Karolina Jonderko

2015 - Ongoing

Poland; England, United Kingdom

It looks like a real baby, it even smells like one, but it’s made of vinyl. When you take on such a doll, you are given a birth certificate with the weight and height, just like a real baby. Each and every one of them is unique, carefully crafted by reborn artists, that’s why they are collected as pieces of art. Yet those dolls happen to be a powerful therapy tool. It’s proven that cuddling a baby causes a release of hormones, which produce a sense of well-being. They bring comfort.

Every woman has a unique motive for having such a baby. The maternal instinct is so strong that those who can’t have, or have lost a baby, give their love to an unreal one. They look after them, change them, take them for a walk and buy clothes for them. The “babies” provide companionship, they bring calming routine, they are a little bundle of joy to love and help their “mothers” dealing with loss, depression, trauma or anxiety.

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  • Babies for adoption. There are hundreds of dolls you can choose from at the doll show. These events are very popular in the UK – families, couples and single people come along to look for a perfect "baby".

  • There is a lot of tenderness and love between the dolls and their owners.

  • Katarzyna with her doll and children in the play park. Most of the time when Katarzyna takes her kids out the doll comes too. People approach her to admire the newborn baby. Not being able to tell the difference once told their reactions vary – from excitement to shock.

  • Some dolls are made from silicone. They are more expensive. Their skin is very gentle and smooth, like the real baby's skin.

  • Basia, Dominika, Magda and Emilka are going trekking. A few times a year doll lovers and collectors gather to spend time together and exchange experiences, like all new mummies do. One of them, Dominika is a teenager .Knowing she’s too young to have kids she adopted a doll to fulfil her strong maternal instinct.

  • Basia Smolińska is changing little Lincoln's clothes. Basia's love for reborn dolls started a few years ago, when she saw the BBC documentary "My fake baby". Recently she started to produce the dolls herself and as reborn dolls became more and more popular the hobby changed into a business.

  • Magdalena putting her doll to sleep. Lorcia became part of the family a few years ago when Magdalena and her husband had been trying for a baby for 7 years. Recently Magdalena gave birth to a baby boy and the doll is now in a cupboard, no longer needed - yet Lorcia had fulfilled her therapeutic purpose.

  • Lorcia’s room. Lorcia was part of the family for seven years because Magdalena could not conceive. A year ago she gave birth to a baby boy. The doll now safely stored in a cupboard is no longer needed - yet fulfilled her therapeutic purpose.

  • Ewa suffers from anxiety. She is afraid to leave the house which makes her ability to meet new people very difficult. The doll keeps her company and calms her when having anxiety attacks.

  • Baby album. Magdalena loved to dress her doll up. Before she gave birth to her son she used to change Lorcia's [the doll's] outfit everyday and take a photo for her baby album.

  • Katarzyna has 4 children, adopting the reborn doll after miscarriage a few years ago. Her children love the doll, they do things together, treat it as a part of the family.

  • The oldest son is lying next to his mum's reborn doll. Katarzyna Kiełbasińska has 4 children, but she got interested in reborn dolls when she miscarried a few years ago. They are spending holidays together

  • Kasia has 4 children, adopting the reborn doll after miscarriage a few years ago. Her children love the doll, they do things together, treat it as a part of the family.

  • Since there was only one high chair in the restaurant the rest of the dolls were left on the floor which draw attention of the customers.

  • Basia is packing the doll to the suitcase since she doesn't want to draw attention in the bus.

  • Katarzyna's children treat the doll as part of the family.

  • There are many reasons why women buy reborn dolls. One of them is the need to be needed and to have someone to look after. In this case the "child" is sick and needs to be taken care of. Many dolls are custom made so you can buy one with any kind of deformity or genetic disease. Memorial dolls are also very popular, often based on a photograph of the late child.

  • When leaving the house "moms" often turn the tv on for the dolls. So they don't feel alone.

  • Making off the doll. Doll must be backed in the oven in order to fix the special paint on the vinyl. It takes up to 2 weeks to make a doll. It all depends on the order.

  • The new reborn doll is packed and ready to be sent to a new "mummy". The package includes a birth certificate and layette. The box opening ritual is very important for new doll owners. Many women film this moment and share it on YouTube and reborn doll forums.