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Forest Haven (Laurel, MD) | No Hope for a Cure

Forest Haven (Laurel, MD) | No Hope for a Cure - Forest Haven
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There is something to me that is infinitely sad about children's toys in abandoned locations. Part of it, perhaps, it that they represent things we want a child's world to be filled with: happiness, optimism, unconditional love. To see them left in the dirt, covered with mold and spider webs, yet still resolutely smiling and offering a hug to a world that will never again give them one, seems like a terrible failure - one that maybe symbolically stretches out even further than just the one object and its inferred rejection by the child who is no longer there to play with it... Sometimes to me it seems discarded toys are representative of that bottomless well of madness you stare down when you contemplate how awful and unforgiving the world can be to children overall.

Certainly Forest Haven, where I found this, is the epitome of the complete inability to shield children from the terrible realities of our very existence. It was closed amidst unforgivable allegations of abuse and neglect, and even had it not been mismanaged - due in part to the perpetual bureaucratic decisions to poorly fund these types of facilities to the point where proper care is impossible - there is the simple fact that the disabilities and illnesses that the children and sometimes adults there suffered from had no remedy. One chart I read spoke of a girl who was tiny for her age and confined to her crib because her osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone syndrome) and hydrocephalus made letting her play outside like other children a potentially life threatening mistake.

Yet she was a child nonetheless, and I speculate that the youthful potential for innocence, joy, and love was there inside her too. Her sickness made her life more difficult than I could ever imagine with no hope of a cure, and because of it she was banished, taken from her family to a place where she was forgotten, where proper care wasn't even possible because of the crushing need and inadequate resources and management. She lived her life in a crib there.

It can eat away at your sanity if you think about it too much.

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The abandoned Forest Haven Developmental Center in Laurel, MD. Image and unattributed text by Matthew Christopher of Abandoned America.

If you'd like to learn more about this location, it is a featured chapter in the new Abandoned America book Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online booksellers across the globe. If you'd like a signed copy you can get one here.


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