|Circle of Love|
Years later, this emotional roller coaster led to yet another birth—the launch in May 2006 of the Precious Baby Doll Co. With the help of award-winning dollmaker Virginia Turner, Wells created a line of ethnic baby dolls designed to ease parents and children through the difficult adoption process.
“The idea for me to start this doll company was based on my personal story from birth mother to adoptive mother. Yet there is much more to it,” Mary Beth explains. “It’s about celebrating the beauty of one’s heritage, about reaching beyond the boundaries of race and color with open hearts and arms, and loving these children with every fiber of our being.”
First produced was an American doll named “Kimberly Caryn,” the name the young Mary Beth secretly gave to her birth daughter. Second in the line is “Sophia Allesandra,” a sweet-faced Guatemalan baby named after Mary Beth’s adopted daughter. Dolls from other nations soon followed.
Each 17-inch soft-body, vinyl doll comes with a beautifully illustrated book depicting the two worlds that will forever belong to each adoptive child. Written by Mary Beth’s sister, Caryn Wells, they show the triangle of the birth mother and adoptive parents both loving the baby in the middle.
“Adoption is a beautiful and heart-wrenching experience. I watched my sister go through the anguish of losing her birth daughter through adoption and the joy in finally adopting her precious daughter from Guatemala,” says Caryn. “Birth mothers never forget the sacrifice they make to allow their children to grow up in a world that offers a new beginning. That’s why it was important to me to tell the story in such a way that would honor the birth mother and the adoptive parents. That concept became the driving force behind the books.”
Tammy Medlen of Thibodaux, La., had searched for an authentic-looking Guatemalan doll for her adopted daughter, Anna. Her search ended when she discovered the “Sophia” doll. “Mary Beth and I both adopted children from the same agency, which is why the story in the book is nearly identical to my journey,” Medlen says. “It chronicles our entire adoption process and places the feelings we had in book form. This doll is a great way to share Guatemala with my little girl.”
Anastasha Lynn of Tucson, Ariz., had difficulty conceiving a child. Several years and more than $30,000 later, she was totally frustrated, just wanting someone or something to hold onto. Years later she learned of Mary Beth’s dolls. “I ordered one of the dolls for my stepdaughter who is also having fertility issues, so she would have a life-like baby to hold onto while trying to conceive,” Lynn explains.
Joanne Joseph of West Hill, Calif., inherited a collection of international dolls. Over the years she has added a few special pieces to that collection, including Mary Beth’s dolls. “Mary Beth is a beautiful person, both inside and out,” Joseph notes. “The Precious Baby Doll Co. is truly a labor of love. She wanted her dolls to be top quality so she selected a top doll designer and worked closely with her to make sure her dolls would be life-like and beautifully crafted, but I especially love its uniqueness as a gift for any family currently going through the adoption process or who has successfully brought their new baby home.”
When Mary Beth first approached Turner with the idea of creating her doll company, the dollmaker wanted in. “She told me her story of giving up her birth daughter for adoption when she was a teenager and living so many years with a deep sense of loss and unrest, and I knew I wanted to make beautiful faces for her,” Turner explains. “Mary Beth provided me with a picture of her adopted daughter and one of her birth daughter, and I created renditions from those. I did not want any of the faces to be sad because adopted children are chosen, and are very special.”
Mary Beth was thrilled with the results and grateful for the help. “I don’t know where I would be in this venture if it were not for Virginia who creates the wax molds for their faces and limbs. Her work is absolutely beautiful and the faces are so full of expression that most people think the dolls are real!”
After years of searching, Mary Beth finally found her birth daughter, but respected the adoptive parents’ request to stay out of her life until she was an adult. It wasn’t until Leslie Parker was 26 years old that the two met face to face for the very first time in 1997, and part one of the healing process began.
“I have always been able to empathize with Mary Beth’s emotional struggle in giving me up for adoption,” says Leslie, who is now married with a son and daughter of her own. “I know if I were ever in that position, I would always wonder about my child, what she looks like, what she likes to do, whether she’s happy, what her parents are like. These questions would haunt me and I don’t think I would be able to have peace until I met her and learned all the answers and held her in my arms.
“Then to turn around when you are finally married and learn you are unable to conceive would just be the most terrible news,” Leslie continues. “I could not imagine it! I had always hoped Mary Beth would look to adopt one day because I know what a loving, warm and wonderful mother she would make and wanted her to be able to share that love with a child.”
Mary Beth discovered the process of adopting a child was also difficult and anxiety-ridden. After working her way up the waiting list to receive a child, she had to wait nearly six more months after the baby was born before she could bring her home. During that time she made four trips to Guatemala. “It was always so painful to leave her behind, but I knew she was being extremely well taken care of by the adoption agency. Adopting Sophia is the greatest thing I have ever done, and I love her more than I could ever begin to tell.”
Sophia became the second step in the healing process. At last, Mary Beth had two daughters; the circle of adoption to adoption was complete. But the new mother’s trials did not end. The emotional roller coaster she had endured left scars that could not heal. Mary Beth and her husband divorced the following year, leaving her a single mom with a daughter to support.
“There were times when I would cry from being too tired and maybe a little afraid, but I am a very spiritual person and find strength in my faith,” Mary Beth confides. “If I had to speak to people on facing challenges I would say, you have the strength within; find it and move forward.”
Taking a healthy dose of her own advice, Mary Beth started her own doll company, yet another step in the healing process. “The doll company is now my livelihood, but I know I have a wonderful product with a strong message and it keeps me moving forward,” she notes.
Today, Mary Beth is going through the adoption process once again, this time as a single mom trying to find a sister for Sophia. For her, the future couldn’t seem brighter. “I’m so excited because I just found out I am now number two on the waiting list! I can hardly wait to bring home a new sister for Sophia.”
Meanwhile, as the circle of love continues, collectors can look forward to even more precious baby dolls from many more countries.
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The winners of the 2013 Industry’s Choice DOLLS Awards of Excellence (DAEs) were announced April 12 at the Debut of Dolls Banquet held at IDEX in Orlando, Fla. Each entry in this year’s competition was evaluated by our panel of judges: Doll industry consultant Pat Burns, doll writer and historian Penny Herbst, Simon Farnworth of DollObservers.com, author and DOLLS contributor Stephanie Finnegan,
DOLLS editor-at-large Jill Jackson, and Modern Doll President Patsy Moyer. This year’s Industry’s Choice winners go on to become the nominees for the Public’s Choice awards voted on by DOLLS readers. Look for photos of all the nominees, ballot, and online voting instructions in the July 2013 issue of DOLLS.
Iola, Wis. – Jan. 9, 2013 – DOLLS magazine publisher and former editor Carie Ferg received a special VIP Award for Outstanding Achievement in the 2012 Colliii Awards. The Colliii Awards are the largest online dollmaking competition in the world.
“We wanted to present the 2012 VIP Award to Carie Ferg as a recognition of the dynamism and innovation she has brought to the doll industry over the past few years,” said Colliii Awards Director James Carlsson. “The VIP Award is presented every year to a person or organisation that has made a significant contribution to the doll world. It was Colliii.com’s pleasure to present this to Carie as a token of appreciation for her hard work.”
Past VIP Award winners include DOLLS’ Editor-at-Large Jill Jackson for her work with "Doll Reader," the Biemann family from Schildkröt dolls in Germany, and such atists as Stephanie Sullivan.Registration for the 2013 Colliii Awards will begin in July. For more information about the competition, go to www.colliii.com/en.
The winners of the 2012 ProSculpt Annual Sculpting Contest have been chosen by collectors and artists from around the world. Winners this year are from England, Italy, Japan, South America, and the United States. Photos of all the winners can be viewed at the Johnston Original Art Dolls website. The winners are:
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Haute Doll introduces its new exclusive by Horsman Ltd., the modern-style “Heart Chair” perfect for 16-inch fashion dolls. The design was inspired by Verner Panton’s 1959 full-scale contemporary chair design.
The fourth Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event (PUDDLE) drew 60 doll lovers from 10 different states and Canada to the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn in June. This year’s theme, cranes, was inspired by the sandhill cranes at the group's charity organization, the Willowbrook Wildlife Center. Six custom dolls and other items donated by sponsors like The Sleeping Elf and Denise's Dolls were raffled off at the event, raising $500 for the center.
The weekend started Friday night with dinner at Mitsuwa Japanese Mall in Arlington Heights, followed by a tea party at the hotel. PUDDLE officially kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday, starting with an organized buy-sell-trade opportunity, and dozens of fans milled around trading and buying doll wigs, eye chips, bodies, clothing, and more.
Every attendee received a door prize, thanks to generous donations from many sponsors. Distribution of the door prizes was followed by a secret gift swap and lunch break. Afterwards, an informal Q&A-format customizing workshop answered questions for many fans new to the hobby, followed by a display of fully customized and modified dolls entered in the customization contest. Winners of an online photo/art contest which was held and judged before the event were announced along with the customization contest winners. The photo and art entries can be seen at www.puddlestyle.com/photoart.html.
Many fans continued the fun over dinner in the hotel restaurant and in the hotel lobby until the wee hours. Krista Farmer, who traveled from Toronto for the event, said “It was a crazy cool day.” Although the event officially ended Saturday night, 11 fans stayed for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Willowbrook Wildlife Center Sunday. — Jane EasterlyFor information on PUDDLE 2012, visit www.puddlestyle.com.read more
Attendees at the third annual R. John Wright Convention enjoyed the festivities of several major holidays coupled with outstanding dolls, all rolled into four fun-filled days! R. John and Susan Wright chose “Celebrations!” as the theme for their 2011 event held at the historic Desmond Hotel in Albany, N.Y., which was co-chaired by Loretta Nardone and Lillian Wright.
The convention opened with St. Patrick’s Day reception Wednesday evening, where everyone laid claim to being a wee bit Irish while enjoying a scrumptious dessert buffet. The sales room opened immediately after this kick-off event, with conventioneers hoping the “luck of the Irish” would help them find that perfect doll or dolls.
Thursday began early with the Easter Morning Breakfast; those attending this ticketed event didn’t have to search for large, beautifully decorated baskets serving as table centerpieces. They were filled with molded felt eggs in pastel colors. At the end of the breakfast, the eggs were distributed and the happy new owners opened them to find “Peep,” a 3-inch yellow mohair chick as their event souvenir. His companion, “Posey,” was available for sale. After breakfast the special and competitive exhibits opened, along with the helper room. This year’s special exhibit, arranged by John and Susan Wright’s daughter Emily, was titled “Happy Holidays” and showcased R. John Wright dolls and animal characters and the traditional holidays that inspired them.
That afternoon, attendees boarded buses for the short trip to Bennington, Vt., for a tour of the R. John Wright facility along with other local activities. The Wrights explained the development of their creations from concept through completion before everyone had the opportunity to visit with their employees as they made various doll parts and accessories and shopped in the R. John Wright store. The day culminated with a Fourth of July BBQ followed by fireworks at dusk.
Workshops by dollmaker Gail Wilson and a program by Alan Pate, a leading American expert on Japanese dolls, were offered on Friday, along with several roundtable discussions on various topics. Attendees dressed up for the frightfully fabulous costume parade leading into the Halloween Masquerade luncheon, with prizes awarded in five categories. After lunch, the newest piece from R. John Wright’s Wizard of Oz collection, “Wicked Witch of the West,” made her debut in front of an enthusiastic audience.
The ticketed Victorian Yuletide Dinner featured traditional table decorations and an enchanting program, “A Victorian Christmas,” presented by Nardone. The event souvenir was the 10-inch “Mary Frances,” the latest addition to the Victorian Children Collection. Available for purchase was her 7-inch little sister, “Baby Grace.”
Saturday morning’s activities included another program by Pate and a workshop conducted by Emily Wright. That afternoon, a Valentine’s Day High Tea charmed conventioneers with fine teas and delicacies. The newest addition to the Flower Fairies series, “Rose Fairy,” was available for purchase. The evening’s closing event was a New Year’s Eve Gala Celebration. This elegant banquet featured another entertaining program produced and presented by Nardone. When the souvenir dolls were distributed, delighted attendees found the adorable 12½-inch “Celebration Scootles” would be going home with them. As an added bonus, her delightful twin brother was available for purchase.As the convention ended, attendees were already making plans for next year’s “Around the World” event, which will be held at the same location June 20-23, 2012 and will celebrate the magic of children around the globe. There will also be an added treat as the first bear event held at an R. John Wright convention will be incorporated into the excursion to the Wrights’ facility in Vermont. For more information, visit www.rjohnwright.com or call (802) 447-7072. — Pat Burnsread more