March 21, 2012 -- Stanley Thornton is 31, but his greatest pleasure comes from wearing a diaper, drinking his bottle and sucking on his pacifier.
He knows he is overaged and oversized for such games, but since his early teens, Thornton has found comfort in his private obsession. He even has a crib -- 3 feet long and 6 feet wide.
"I found a way to make it work," said Thornton, a former security expert from Redding, Calif. "It's a twin bed with four side rails."
Thornton's obsession started when he was 13 and he began wetting the bed.
"I wore diapers so I didn't have to change the sheets all the time," he said. "I got that childish feeling and decided to explore that. The next time, I got a bottle and pacifier and really enjoyed it. It gave me a safe feeling."
He even has a "mommy," who enjoys nurturing and tending his every need. He met her online, and there are others in cyberspace who also enjoy the activity.
Thornton's secret life as a baby will be revealed tonight in TLC's series, "My Crazy Obsession," which airs at 10 p.m. Already the television series has profiled a couple with 500 Cabbage Patch dolls.
Next week, TLC will feature Fred and Robert, who have a rare collection of vintage washing machines; Anthony, the airline memorabilia addict; and Melanie, a woman who is crazy about her pet capybara, a rodent-like creature, named Gari.
Some are innocent collectors, but Thornton's obsession reaches deep into his psyche. He was abused as a child and behaving like a baby seems to relieve the associated trauma and anxiety.
He lived with both parents until he was 12, when they divorced, then moved in with his father until he was 16. "They had no idea [about the baby role-playing] or the bed wetting until I was 21," he said.
"It wasn't too hard to keep secret," said Thornton. "Dad worked all the time and I had the house to myself."
Later, he would go to the local park observatory and find a table in a secluded area to have his bottle. "I'd find a picnic table and watch the birds," said Thornton.
In 2000, Thornton had a breakdown and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and has been on disability ever since. He sees a counselor weekly, who theorizes that his obsession with babyhood is a "good coping mechanism."
His disorder is broadly classified as paraphilic infantilism, which is considered within the spectrum of obsessive-compulsive conditions, which predominantly affects males. It is also associated with compulsive sexual, mood and personality disorders, according to psychiatric studies from the National Institutes of Health.
But Thornton insists his fetish is not sexual, like many others in the online adult baby world.
"For me, it's all about comfort," he said. "A few in the community find it sexual, but I think [that] taints it, it takes away the innocence."
"I am not doing drugs or alcohol and it does not harm. I only do it a couple of hours a day, and soon I go back to my regular life," said Thornton.
In 2002, he moved in with a friend – his baby mommy, Pam. "She loved being able to do all the nurturing," he explained. "She had lost two kids. Miscarriage played a role."
With a play mother, "it was a lot more fun," he said. "It was more than just role-playing. She was like a second mom and was there to help me with different problems."
His World is Half Adult, Half Baby
Today, he rents a 10-by-10-foot room by himself. Like his personality, the room is split between the adult world and the baby world. His nursery side has a crib and a high chair. The other half is "more or less" a living room with a television, deep-freeze, lounge chair and his computer.
His favorite pastimes are watching children's cable channels and listening to kid's music. He also likes to play with Lincoln Logs and Play-Doh. Last year he met another adult baby in his hometown and they have fun playing together.
He has met others in online communities dedicated to the art of playing baby and baby mommy. The two most popular websites are Daily Diapers and ADISC, for those who love diapers and need support in their obsession.
The biggest challenge for Thornton is the realization that others outside these communities think he is weird.
"When I try to talk to someone about it who hasn't heard of it, my mind jumps around trying to explain what really is going on -- that it isn't a problem, like they think it is," he said.
"I tell them I sit down and enjoy role-playing for an hour or two a day to relax," said Thornton. "I tell them it's basically coloring, playing with blocks and watching kids' movies."
One neighbor who hadn't known about Thornton's life style was sympathetic when she learned about it while helping him move.
"She took it pretty good," he said. "She was open-minded and we talked."
They have been good friends ever since.
"I am fine right now," he said. "Accepting it has made me a happier person than if I try to deny it."
Stanley says he has never been in love, but he would love to find someone to marry.
"I'd like to become a dad some day," he said wistfully. "I'd like to look for someone to settle down with and have a family."