Three-year-old Val Caron tot Savana Blanchette has a very special toy — a doll that looks exactly like she did as a three-month-old infant.
It all started when Savana's grandmother, Edith Wood of South Carolina, entered her photo in a cutest baby contest a couple of years ago.
Savana's photo was chosen as one of the top 10 finalists among the hundreds of entries, and was posted online, where it received about 1,000 votes, winning the contest.
The prize was an Ashton-Drake Galleries doll that looks just like Savana, as well as a $200 cheque.
Ashton-Drake is a company that makes realistic-looking collectible baby dolls. The Savana doll is still for sale to the general public, and costs about $160.
The company's description of the doll is pretty great.
“A lifelike sweetheart from head to toe, Savana is sculpted by Ping Lau, cast in baby-soft RealTouch® vinyl skin and weighted to feel like a real baby,” the description said.
“When you cradle her in your arms, you will notice all of her realistic details, from her hand-blushed tones and individually hand-applied wisps of fine baby hair, to her ten tiny hand-painted fingernails.
“Plus she's fully poseable, so she can snuggle right into your arms, completely warm in her hand-tailored pink fleece (inspired by the winning photo!). With her heart-melting smile, Savana is a very important collecting first baby doll that is sure to create much demand. Don't miss this rare opportunity to celebrate doll history with us.”
The fans of these kinds of realistic baby dolls — which are meant for adults, by the way — sometimes behave in ways that seem a bit odd. There's a contingent of collectors who treat them like real children, calling them “reborns.”
Savana's mom, Claudia Brisson, admits she thinks it's “bizarre” that people are able to purchase dolls that look just like her daughter.
“But she's so cute,” she said. “Who wouldn't want her?”
Brisson used the $200 contest prize money to buy Savana one of the expensive dolls. It's since taken quite a beating, because Savana plays with it constantly.
“She's in that stage where she carries her babies all around,” she said.
Her grandmother keeps a “nice” version of the doll that she's planning on giving Savana when she's married.
“I never even thought we would have a doll made from our daughter,” Brisson said. “It does look like her. They did a really good job. It's really fun. Whenever I miss having a baby, I can just hold my little daughter again.”
Brisson and her partner, Daniel Blanchette, also have a six-month-old daughter, Vanessa, and they're planning on entering her photo into this year's version of the contest.