Somewhat inspired by the theme of issues related to race as blogged by Mandy W and Robyn C recently, I would like to introduce my story of the search for the newborn Hispanic Cabbage Patch Doll. No, really. I have a story that actually does aptly fit that description. But while this blog doesn’t touch on the same issues discussed by Mandy and Robyn, it does discuss some of the implications of the inclusion/exclusion conundrum.
Prior to the birth of Bear in 2006 and long before the idea of actually moving forth with adoption flew onto our family radar, I always envisioned a home full of toys, namely dolls in this context, bearing representations of different races. Yet once Bear was born, we were less focused on actual dolls and more on stuffed animals (and believe me—we have more than our fair share!) since that’s where his interest seemed to lie (and still remains). Once we started plans to adopt Beauty and even more so when she arrived home, the gifts began rolling in. Cutesy pink clothes, more stuffed animals, and a handful of dolls—just to name a few of the items received. At that point, it became glaringly obvious that all the baby dolls were, well, white.
As it so happens, my very opinionated now two year old loves dolls, particularly ones that are designed to look like newborns (”baby babies”, she calls them). Our collection has since expanded and includes dolls of several different races. But I’m quickly learning how much easier it is to obtain white dolls in our area (which, for the record, is an almost even blend of several different races). A recent trip to our local toy store spelled it out quite clearly; there was just enough representation of other races to make it obvious the store was trying, even if it was a bit half-heartedly, to hit the mark of inclusion. I’ll admit it: I felt a bit slighted, both for Beauty and our son who will be coming to us from Ethiopia. I also felt slighted for Bear who is so proud of the fact that he and his siblings have beautiful and unique skin tones and loves to celebrate this fact whenever possible. But I digress; enter the story of the search for the newborn Hispanic Cabbage Patch Doll.
For well over a year now, my best friend, Erica (who is also Beauty’s Godmother, I might add), has been on a fervent quest to obtain a newborn Hispanic Cabbage Patch Doll. She has checked every store in existence; she has scoured the online world for hours (best aunt ever, I tell you!) and it has been to no avail. “Backordered”, they will tell her. “We don’t carry it.” “No, sorry. Don’t have it.” And to date, the elusive newborn Hispanic Cabbage Patch Doll has evaded us all.
This bothers me quite a bit. The kids have a few newborn Caucasian Cabbage Patch Dolls they play with on a regular basis (they were actually mine, so these are the, shall I say, vintage models) and they both love taking care of their babies. It disheartens me that so common of a toy (who doesn’t love Cabbage Patch Dolls?) is so difficult to find in the newborn Hispanic variety. Thankfully, Beauty is a tremendous fan of Dora the Explorer (and specific to the “baby babies” issue–Dora’s “Super Babies”) and there is no shortage of Dora-related items available.
While I like to think of my children as overall fairly well-rounded, I realize that issues such as this one will materialize in numerous forms over the years. Inclusion, exclusion—something every child must face in so many forms throughout their lives. I will continue, as most adoptive families do, to foster an appreciation for toys that transcend the race boundaries or include many different races in their product line. For Christmas, Beauty’s wish list for Santa includes an American Girl “Just Like You” doll, but even still, my search—as well as Auntie Erica’s, I’m sure–for the newborn Hispanic Cabbage Patch Doll will not falter.