Real Stories

13 Babies and Counting: Woman’s Reborns Preparing her for Parenthood

Jess is a very busy mum.  Her oldest is three-year-old June and she has several newborns including Rebecca, Sam, Manuela, and (another) June. Four of her newborns, including Anneliese, Lillie, Cookie and Aria, are premature.

She is also a mum to three-month-old Zain, eight-month-old Brooklyn, and one-year-olds Charlie and Pippa.

Jess with her reborn dolls
Source: Supplied

In total, Jess, 27 and her partner, Avery Raassen, 33, have 13 children under their roof to love and care for. However, none of them are real.

A love of reborns

Jess is an avid collector of reborn dolls – lifelike dolls that could easily pass as real, especially at first glance. Reborn dolls are made from soft vinyl with features that resemble real infants, including milk spots, veins, blotching and more. They look and feel like real babies and Jess is part of a growing community across the world that love and care for reborns.

Jess and her reborn collection
Jess loves taking photos of her babies together. Source: Supplied

Jess, who lives in the UK, purchased her first reborn, baby Rebecca, in 2020 during the pandemic.

I bought one because I was feeling lonely and I thought they looked cute, and then it developed into a love of all dolls and an appreciation for the art form,” Jess tells Mum Central.

Like many of us, she was feeling quite anxious to leave the house. Having Rebecca helped ease these feelings and also helped Jess to feel confident to go outside.

During the pandemic I became very, very anxious about leaving the house and so my fiancé actually bought the pram for me to encourage me to go outside. It worked really well and after a few months, I was able to go outside on my own without the pram as well,” Jess said.

In preparation for parenthood

For Jess, and many people in the reborn community, holding a reborn baby can be incredibly calming and therapeutic. Reborns can be used as a therapy tool to assist with mental health, child loss, miscarriage, loneliness or dementia.

Jess and her reborns
Source: Supplied

However, many people simply enjoy collecting them. For Jess, having her reborns not only brings comfort but also helps prepare her for parenthood. Both she and Avery take turns changing the babies and dressing them.

I have a deep desire to be a mother, but I am not ready for the responsibility that comes with a real child, so the babies allow me have a window into that life,” Jess shares with Mum Central.

“I also recognise that these are not real babies and I often leave them in places you definitely should not leave a real baby – like a table or sofa.”

Jess reborns
Jess’s reborns have their own display case to sleep in. Source: Supplied

To date, Jess has spent over $13,000 on her darling babies, plus extra for accessories. Her most expensive reborn doll, Cookie, cost her approx $3,200 AUD.

While she admits some passer-buyers are a bit confused about her hobby, many are intrigued, polite and supportive. Both her mum and dad are proud and supportive of her collection, even though her dad thinks it’s a touch “bizarre”.

She has also connected with several others who share her passion for reborn dolls.

People often ask me why I have Reborns, and I find it a surprisingly hard question to answer. I don’t have just one reason for collecting!  For me there are several aspects to collecting – the excitement of buying a new doll, having it delivered, dressing it and posing, and then taking photos.

I also love seeing other people’s, and have made so many friends through this hobby. I don’t interact with them every day but they are really wonderful to have around and have had such a positive impact on my life. I am so grateful I found them!”

In addition to collecting reborn dolls, Jess also creates and sells reborns online to “give back” to the reborn community. She only started four months ago but she’s already earned a few thousand dollars. Jess said it takes roughly three weeks, on and off, to create a doll.

reborn doll kit
Jess also creates and sells reborn dolls. Source: Supplied

In the future Jess would love to add a real baby to her family but, for now, her 13 little ones keep her on her toes.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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