Folks, this is a Christmas nightmare like none other. You think you've heard everything, and then you browse Reddit on a Sunday night and see this. It's a recent post on "Am I the A-hole?" and it will shock you to your core. A woman posted that she and her husband tragically lost their child toward the beginning of this year.
They went to her husband's parents house for Christmas, who gifted the couple a reborn doll that looks exactly like their late son. Those are extremely realistic dolls that are custom-made to look like real infants. Horrified yet?
She writes, "I'm not sure if they thought it would be a good idea or comforting, but it's among the worst things I've ever seen. I do NOT want this doll. I don't care how much they paid, it's creepy I'm not touching it. I freakout because it was shocking." Yeah. Obviously.
It's unthinkable that they thought this was an appropriate thing to do without warning. Who thinks that's OK?! I cannot! Not to mention, the woman who posted this belongs to a culture that doesn't "really allow touching dead things and that thing looked it." She and her husband promptly rejected the gift and left the doll with her in-laws.
Now, the woman's in-laws are claiming it was "rude" to reject the gift and keep sending articles about how these sorts of dolls make parents feel better. It's not just that they thought they knew what was best for their son and daughter-in-law. This is not the kind of decision you make for someone else without their knowledge.
In an edit to her original post, she adds, "We're in therapy about this and we agree that the doll would be very bad and cannot be in the house. I found the maker of the doll yesterday and called to threaten to sue her for 'using my child's image without permission,' among other things. She seemed frightened enough and apologized profusely for not knowing that we weren't aware. I think my call was enough."
A couple things: First, I am so glad that her husband is with her on this. We have seen similar(ish) stories in which husbands side with their crazy parents over their partners, and that makes things ten times harder. It is so important that they are on the same team here.
Likewise, the fact that they are in therapy together just made me want to hug them. So many stories I read on Reddit make me want to take an elevator to the roof of the highest building in the world, step out, and scream, "Go to therapy! It will help!" The fact that this couple knew they needed help to deal with the tragedy of losing their son is so, so good.
Third, this story definitely sheds light on a problem in the reborn doll industry. Holy crap, it's not OK for someone to be able to make a doll of whatever dead person they want. There has to be some way to vet the person asking for the doll to be made. Even though this couple seems to be doing everything right, they still took to Reddit because the rest of their family seems to be divided about the appropriateness of their reaction to the gift. Luckily, Reddit was pretty unanimous.
"I cannot imagine a single thing more traumatizing and horrifying than unwrapping a package to find a doll that looks exactly like the baby you lost. Like, I would physically have recoiled and probably screamed," one person wrote. If her in-laws were to sit down for one second and think about what it would feel like to open up a package and be surprised with an uncanny model of your dead child, they never would have gotten the doll in the first place. It's logic and empathy and compassion that they're missing.
Someone who used to work for a company that sold reborn dolls wrote, "It's a very personal and emotional thing. I would spend hours helping women picking out the best doll for them. It is incredibly insensitive to force this on someone... The best way for them to broach this would have been to ask prior about it and see the reaction."
Their intention probably wasn't to make their son and daughter-in-law completely freaked out and sad. Still, it's totally wild how much they missed the mark. The second layer to the problem is that they didn't accept the couple's very honest and real reaction. They said they were being "rude" instead of respecting their wishes. I think unless these two come to understand how wrong they were, it's time to cut them out.