It’s the kind of thing we often forget happens everyday. Babies are abandoned, they die, or are left for dead and there is no one to claim their bodies. Many of them will end up in unmarked graves with no funeral processions to celebrate their lives.
In 1998, Elissa Davey was watching the news one day when she saw a story about a deceased baby abandoned on a college campus. She knew she had to do something about it. Davey called the coroner’s office to see if she could claim the child’s body, and the coroner said, “show me you have a dignified place to put him.”
Since then, Davey created the Garden of Innocence, which provides children who are unnamed and unclaimed with graves, funerals, and headstones.
Davey gives each child a name. For the funerals of Ariel, Daisy, Don, Emily, Grace, John V., and Maguerite, who are finally being put to rest, Davey gathered strangers to honor them.
Some of the children have met grim ends, some are left at the hospital or found in the morgue, and some are complete mysteries. Davey believes that each deserves a proper burial.
“It was bittersweet, knowing we are going to lay to rest a child who was found in a jar,” said Davey. “A lot of people ask us how we can bury babies. ‘It’s so hard.’ Our answer is, ‘how can we not?’”
Gardens of Innocence provides children, who would otherwise go unremembered, with the dignity everyone deserves after they pass away.
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