“There’s comfort in cuddling and physically holding something that feels like a baby, even though it’s not a baby,” says St Hilaire. “It can release some of the same endorphins.”

For Lucenda Plancarte, who is a friend of Ortiz and a reborn collector in her early 30s, the hobby’s therapeutic benefits are twofold.
“I have polycystic ovarian syndrome and stage four endometriosis,” she explains from her home in Compton, California. “And I’ve been proven infertile. I’ve already had multiple treatments, surgeries, seen different doctors. [Having children is] just not in my cards.”

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