continued Though the clergy have varied, one constant has been the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus. “They’ve come out for every service,” Davey says. “The first service, there were about 7. And the last service that we just did, there were about 30. But we have had as many as 70 there at one time. They give a lot of dignity to our services. They just give it an amazing amount of love. We just buried our 98th baby two weeks ago, and we are preparing for when we get our 100th because it is going to be a huge service, and the Knights of Columbus are going to be putting on the whole thing themselves. So it will be mostly a Catholic service, though we will have other people there. We will have a whole church choir there, from Good Shepherd [Catholic Parish in Mira Mesa].”
The Knights’ involvement in Garden of Innocence was accidental — or providential. “One of the members of our group, Tony Miller,” Davey recalls, “one of his relatives had passed away and left him with a sword. And so he went to a Catholic church to find out if he could donate it to the Knights of Columbus. He started talking to them about the Garden of Innocence, and they said, ‘We would like to be involved in that.’ We have had Knights from as far away as Connecticut come and do a service. They are an amazing bunch of men.”
Most of the 98 babies buried at the Garden of Innocence were not newborns found in the trash, like Adam. “Those are called unidentified,” Davey explains, “the ones that are found along the street or thrown in the trash or thrown in the sewer. We have had 10 or 12 of them. The rest are abandoned. Abandoned babies are those that died at area hospitals and the parents walked away and left the bodies. Some are stillborn, some of them are preemies that were born too soon and died right away. Some of them lived for a while before they were abandoned. Doris lived for a month. She was Life Flighted to San Diego from Orange County for immediate open-heart surgery at Children’s Hospital, where she lived for a month. During that month, not one mother came to see her, not one grandmother, nobody. And then after a month, she died, and she ended up being certified abandoned. But during that month, the nurses at the hospital bond with these children so fast. So we explain to the hospital that we are going to take care of them. And we have had some nurses come to our services.”
Davey reports that nurses who come to services of babies they cared for say they receive a sense of closure. Others have as well. “When Michaela was found in the mountains, I called the woman that found her, the jogger that found her, and told her that we were going to be taking care of her. She came, and it gave her great closure, because she never knew what would have happened to her. And the man that found Michael in the sewer, I called him to tell him that we were going to be taking care of him, and he came. And he said it was wonderful to see the dignity that this baby he had found in the sewer got.”
Though she doesn’t know for sure, Davey is almost certain that mothers of babies abandoned at hospitals have come to the Garden of Innocence to see their babies buried. “We believe that we have had maybe one or two mothers come that knew about it, but they never let us know. We think they were the mothers because they were crying uncontrollably. But they didn’t speak to anybody.”
Parents who have abandoned their children at hospitals are not prosecuted. “It’s not against the law to walk away,” Davey says.
Before Garden of Innocence, dead babies abandoned at hospitals were cremated and their ashes scattered at sea along with those of indigents found dead around the county.
Now that the Garden of Innocence is up and running in San Diego, Davey is trying to start gardens in other states. Efforts are under way in Texas, Washington, Missouri, and Nevada. This isn’t Davey’s job. She’s still a realtor. She says it’s her calling. “Sometimes people will ask, ‘How can you bury a baby? That is the worst thing to do in the whole wide world.’ And my answer right back is, ‘How can we not?’ ”