Press Release



April Dinwoodie, Chief Executive

Hollee McGinnis, Policy Director
212-925-4089 or 646-263-9236

NEW YORK, Oct. 18, 2005 – The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute today called for an end to the sale of dolls in “Newborn Nursery Adoption Centers,” calling the marketing campaign “offensive” and undermining for adopted children, for all their parents, and for adoption per se.

“Your concept … is based on antiquated, discredited perceptions of adoption; today’s practices are far more sensitive and child-centered, a reality not reflected in your marketing,” the Institute’s Executive Director, Adam Pertman, wrote yesterday to the stores involved – Saks, Parisian and FAO Schwartz. Though it wasn’t designed to cause anyone harm, he added, the idea “is insidiously offensive, stigmatizing and demeaning, and should end.”

The Newborn Nursery Adoption Centers are meant to simulate hospital nurseries where children (and adult collectors) of Lee Middleton Original Dolls can “adopt” lifelike baby dolls in “realistic” settings. The nursery-themed retail concept is complete with the sound of baby noises from a nursery where buyers can peek through a viewing window at a variety of “babies” (with different complexions, hair and eye colors) lying in cribs. The advertisements for the campaign suggest that shoppers decide which one to “take home” partly based on the children’s physical traits. Once a doll is selected, a sales associate dressed like a nurse assists the customer by providing a hospital gown, helping with the completion of “adoption papers,” and giving the doll a final “health examination.”

The Adoption Institute letter said the concept was probably the result of a lack of understanding of adoption’s realities, and not bad intentions on anyone’s part. Nevertheless, it said the nursery-themed marketing scheme is problematical for many reasons, primarily because it is based on antiquated, discredited assumptions and stereotypes about how infant adoption occurs. Among other issues the Institute raised about the concept were:

It implicitly eliminates key participants in the adoption process – i.e. the women and men who give life to the babies, and who in infant adoption today typically choose the new parents for their children.
It effectively suggests adoptive parents shop for babies as they do for products and perpetuates damaging myths about how adoption works – including a notion that adopted children are commodities.
By furthering such an inaccurate portrayal of adoption, it risks fomenting another generation of negative, uniformed attitudes toward adopted people, their parents by birth and adoption, and adoption per se.

To read the Adoption Institute’s letter in its entirety, please go to:

The Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent policy, research and education organization in its field. It provides information and leadership that improve the lives of everyone touched by adoption – especially children – through better laws, policies, practices and attitudes. For more information about the Institute, please write to or visit our award-winning website at If you have questions or want to arrange an interview, contact Pertman at 617-332-8944 or