8 Children with Custom Dolls Just as Unique as They Are
Maeve and Mairéad Contant
Siblings Maeve, 7, and Mairéad Contant, 5, are adopted from China and have albinism, a genetic condition where there is little or no production of the pigment melanin. Mom Anne Contant turned to Amy Jandrisevits, creator of A Doll Like Me, to see if she could create dolls that looked like her daughters.
"We really wanted Maeve, and her siblings, Mairéad and Liam, to have have dolls that looked like them," says Contant. "I looked everywhere, but I was not able to find any Asian dolls that had pure white hair and pale blue eyes."
At Emma Grassi's 20-week ultrasound, Brian Grassi and his wife had learned a piece of fibrous tissue was wrapped around their daughter’s developing left arm, acting like a tourniquet and preventing growth below her elbow.
Grassi, 43, says he "wept like a baby" when Jandrisevits gifted him and his wife a doll missing part of its lower arm several months before the birth of Emma last October.
"For me as her father," says Grassi, "it's amazing to see a doll that represents my daughter with her limb difference."
Zachariah Hayes was born with a rare genetic disorder called Facial Infiltrating Lipomatosis, which affects the size of one half of his face.
When the 6-year-old received his doll in March, mom Chelsey O'Halloran, 26, was overwhelmed. "A good overwhelmed," she says, "to see he had something like him." As for Zachariah, "he loves it, he thinks of it as himself."
Hayden Betts, 8, was born with fibular hemimelia in her left leg, making the limb about 30 percent shorter than her right leg and her tibia bent at an angle.
Hayden loves her doll, say her parents Earl and Nicole Betts, because "she's just like me." The doll also enables Hayden to explain her condition and the limb-lengthening treatments she is undergoing.
Esmé Adéle Dunkley
Esmé Adéle Dunkley, 16 months, was born missing her left hand, wrist and part of her forearm.
"Every parent wants their child to be loved and accepted by others, but more importantly we want our child to love and accept themselves for who they are," says Esmé's mom, Dominique Babin-Muise. "Through her amazing dolls, Amy has allowed babies and children to be proud of who they are."
Jay Salazar, 3, brings his "Baby Jay" everywhere. "I knew Jay needed a doll to grow up with that looked like him," says mom Taylor Salazar. "It’s an amazing feeling to be able to give your ‘different child’ something that represents them."
Jay was born with a rare condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome, which affected both of his hands and caused shortened and fused fingers. "We talk about his doll having Lucky Fins just like him," says Salazar. "I am so thankful Amy created this amazing organization to help all kids feel included."
Keagan Cameron, 2, was born with giant congenital nevus, a rare skin condition.
"When kids ask, I say he has chocolate chip syndrome, from eating too many," says Keagan’s mom, Joy Cameron. "I want Keagan to know it's okay to be different. And the doll has given me confidence — there are a lot of stares."
Joy says Keagan takes his doll "Chip" everywhere, and she is in awe of Jandrisevits' care in making the spots on the doll match Keagan's. "I thought that was just the most amazing thing," she says. "This woman is so incredible and everything comes from the heart."