Irish stores pull US firm's 'adoption' dolls after Liveline complaints

Irish stores pull US firm's 'adoption' dolls after Liveline complaints

IRISH stores Brown Thomas and Arnotts have stopped selling 'adoption' dolls produced by US firm FAO Schwarz after complaints to RTÉ radio's Liveline.

The dolls were described as coming from the FAO Schwarz Doll Adoption Centre "swaddled and snuggled up in a Moses basket, ready to be taken to its new home".

However, callers to Liveline said this description differed vastly from Ireland's experience of adoption from Church-run institutions.

Brown Thomas Arnotts Ltd, which owns the two stores selling the dolls, has now removed the toys, saying "the experience of adoption has been varied in Ireland".

'Complex emotions'

Liveline host Joe Duffy raised the issue on Friday's show after being contacted by a listener, who said the dolls were "humiliating".

Reading a message from the listener, Duffy quoted: "For adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents, the adoption triangle contains complex emotions of grief, pain as well as love.

"It is humiliating to set it marketed as an invitation to adopt your bundle of joy for €85 a doll."

One caller, Mairead, who was herself adopted from a Church-run institution, contrasted the way the dolls were marketed to the reality she and others experienced.

"That little baby for sale in Ireland is tucked up nice and cosy, unharmed in any way," she said.


"That's not the way it was for those poor people that were reared in institutions, and have suffered so much.

"Even now they're suffering, because they're scarred for life [as a result of] what they went though.

"It's an insult to the people who weren't adopted, who were reared in Magdalene Laundries who suffered and still to this day have a fear instilled in them.”

Another caller, Paul, said his wife was born in the St Patrick's Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, where she was tied to her cot for 23 hours and 20 minutes a day and force-fed corn flour.

"Adoption is a trauma that never leaves you," he said.

'World-renowned toy store'

Brown Thomas Arnotts contacted the show to say they were withdrawing the dolls from sale.

"FAO Schwarz is a world-renowned toy store that has and continues to provide millions of children of all ages with wonderful experiences that fuel their imagination," their statement said.

"Brown Thomas Arnotts entirely agree that the experience of adoption has been varied in Ireland, and we take on board the views expressed in the programme.

"To that end, we will today stop selling the FAO adoption dolls in all Brown Thomas and Arnotts stores."

The dolls are also no longer available to buy from the store's websites.