Trigger: Mention of child death.
As sad as it may be, so many babies and children are abandoned by their mothers shortly after birth. While some are able to survive, not all of them are lucky enough to do so. Many end up passing away as a result of being abandoned due to being crushed to death (if the baby's found in the trash), exposure or another way. It's more of a problem than you may think.
In San Diego, California, volunteers at the Garden of Innocence in El Camino Memorial Park have honoured babies abandoned at birth- including its 200th and most recent baby. Speakers read out all 200 names, which included the newest addition named Roger. Volunteers also placed rose petals on each baby's gravestone to honour them.
The Garden of Innocence was founded by Elissa Davey about 20 years ago. It started with the first baby, a boy named Adam. He was found deceased in a trash can in Chula Vista, much to her horror. She recalls how this affected her more than other stories did at the time.
"You read about this happening in the local newspaper but then your life gets in the way and you jump up to start your day and forget about those articles. For some reason, with this particular story, on this particular day, I couldn’t forget," Davey explained. "He was a sad situation because he was actually thrown away twice because his mother threw him away in her gym clothes and someone came around later and took the gym clothes and took the baby and threw him in a different trash can."
That's why Davey founded the Garden of Innocence- to allow all abandoned babies to be buried somewhere nice, where their name would be shown. It's funded by donations from generous individuals. Today, there are 13 similar Gardens of Innocence across both California and Oregon. Davey's ultimate goal is to have a Garden of Innocence in every state across the United States. She says it touches her to see people come to a memorial service for abandoned babies.
"They first come here to see what’s it’s like, to see what we are doing. Then they get involved and they say, 'wow this is neat, I’ve never heard of this before,' and we need people to hear about it," she added.