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Cabbage Patch Kids and Black Market Doll Adoptions

Song Lyric of the Day:

Cabbage Patch Kids / Growing in the garden / Cabbage Patch Kids / Growing in the sun

Cabbage Patch Kids commercial, circa mid-1980s

When I was a wee youngling, my mom bought me a Cabbage Patch doll. Mom went through hell to get her, practically having to elbow people in the store to get one for me. When I saw Isabel Sissy, I fell in love. The red ponytail braids, the yellow dress, the white lace-up shoes — it was all good. Isabel was soon joined by her baby sister, Fernanda Georgiana (I kept the names on their birth certificates), proudly purchased with birthday money received from my Abuela Tulita. Fernanda was obviously younger since she was bald as an egg, her chrome dome covered by a light purple bonnet that perfectly matched her two-piece ensemble. I eventually got a Cabbage Patch Koosa, kind of like a pet for the dolls, which I cleverly named Brownie ( you just typed/wrote a name on the label for its collar). I couldn’t have been happier.

Isabel Sissy and Fernanda Georgiana
Brownie

A large part of the appeal of Cabbage Patch Kids, as any doll parent worth their salt knows, was the adoption application papers and birth certificate that came with each doll. To finalize the adoption, you mailed in the application. A few weeks later and — voila! — you received the paperwork making it official. I giddily filled out the paperwork for both Isabel and Fernanda and gave it to my mom to mail off. I would listen with envy as my elementary school peers would talk about their finalized papers having arrived. Where were mine? What was taking so long? Had they gotten lost in the mail? I waited for years for those papers to be mailed back to me. Years. Once we moved from Houston to Knoxville, I knew the papers would never find me.

Last summer, I gave Coraline my beloved, albeit never officially adopted dolls. Like I had so many years before, she also instantly fell in love with them, although she prefers Fernanda over Isabel; I think the baldness equals “baby” to Coraline. She’s also quite fond of Brownie, even being careful to turn his head around to face front again when needed (it rotates all the way around).

With Grandpa Doug and Isabel
Kissing Fernanda
Kissing Brownie

After telling my mom how I gave my beloved dolls to Coraline, I mentioned how I had waited for so many years for adoption papers that never came. She said that was nice of me to give Coraline the dolls, and then, almost distractedly, added, “Oh, the papers? I never mailed them.” I’m sorry, but WHAT?!? YOU NEVER MAILED THEM?!? I waited YEARS for those papers! YEARS!!! I didn’t actually yell those things at Mom, but you can bet she got an earful. Mostly I went on about how for all these years I’d been harboring illegally adopted, black market Cabbage Patch dolls. See what not mailing in those adoption papers did? Created a shit-ton of baggage. Thanks, Ma!

Despite their questionable background, Coraline regularly dotes on Isabel and Fernanda, although they’ve almost been thrown to the wayside thanks to her obsession with her newest baby doll, cleverly named Baby (she has a bottle! That goes in her mouth!).

Putting Isabel and Fernanda to Bed

For her first Christmas, my mom gave Coraline this nifty talking, programmable dog named My Pal Violet. Violet spells out Coraline’s name, calls her Cora, and even lists her favorite animal, food, and color. Violet lives in Coraline’s crib and we hear her often when Coraline plays with her before falling asleep or on waking up. Violet even occasionally makes her way downstairs at Coraline’s behest. Violet had a printable adoption certificate.

Violet with her adoption certificate

Did I print and fill out Violet’s adoption certificate as soon as we opened her up? You bet your ass I did. That way I can hopefully guarantee that when Coraline is a happy, well-adjusted adult with a good career and a family of her own, she won’t be wasting her time complaining on the Internet about how her mother never took care of the damn adoption certificate.

Violet = legally adopted

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