Friday, October 02, 2009

Much Obliged, Mr. Coram

Thomas Coram was a Londoner who couldn't just stand by.  A modern, enlightened Westerner would be grossly shocked by one aspect in particular of the eighteenth-century version of the city:  abandoned children found at an alarming rate around town.  In England at that time babies were abandoned because prostitutes couldn't care for them, and because women of repute couldn't have their scandulous pregnancies found out by trying to give the baby to someone who might care for them.  Older children were left to fend for themselves when their parents died.

Thomas Coram's repulsion at the sight of hopeless children in Europe's greatest city eventually became his quest to open a foundling home for them.  His home for foundling children cared for hundreds of children into the twentieth century.  It was sponsored by the likes of George Frederick Handel.  Coram's home had large, beautiful grounds for the children to play on.  In the years since the closure of Coram's home, those grounds have become one of the greatest children's parks in London.  Coram's Fields was only a five-minute walk from our flat and was, in fact, the very reason we searched for a flat in that neighborhood.  I discovered it one early day while Steve was in class, and knew it would be the key to a successful year with a rambunctious boy in a crowded city. 

When we finally made it to Coram's Fields this trip on our last evening in London , I felt like I had come home.  I believe it was as much home to me as my flat.  The kids immediately ran to the zipline, and I walked around the old sycamore trees, and remembered how many times this place had saved me from insanity.  I had always been enamored of the story of Coram--of the goodness of Mr. Coram, and the many lives he rescued in his foundling home.  As my children played there five years ago, I often found myself thinking of the orphans who would have played on those very grounds two hundred years ago.  This time, I was struck by the irony of me being back there, with my children, on my way to make a home for some orphans of my own.  I realize I'm becoming quite sentimental, but I felt a great gratititude and respect for Mr. Coram.  His was one more story that inspired me to foster my thoughts of adoption, and his fields were a saving grace--a haven for me and my children.

So I felt I should declare it publically.  Much obliged, Mr. Coram.


Brooke said...

You have so many feelings flooding your head and heart right now. I can't believe you are finally getting the girls. I'm sure you can't either.

Emily said...

Beautifully put, and yes, the irony is practically tangible isn't it?