INDIANAPOLIS — Hospitals say that every year, they are left with babies who died at birth by mothers who never return.
An organization called He Knows Your Name Ministries claims those babies and gives them a name and a proper burial.
After spending just two hours on this earth as a stillborn, a baby's mother left him at a local hospital on Wednesday. He Knows Your Name Ministries claimed the baby and named him Stephen Joseph before holding a ceremony Friday afternoon at the Mt. Vernon Chapel at Washington Park East Cemetery.
"Your life mattered. Even though I don't know you and even though you're a stranger to me, your life matters and I care that you were born," He Knows Your Name Ministries founder Linda Znachko said at the ceremony. "I don't know what her conflict is or was, but I know that in her choosing to walk away, we walked in."
To Znachko, this baby's life means something, and his name means something.
"To honor my husband Steve, Stephen, and also the father of the baby in the manger, Joseph," she said. "The lost part of the baby is really sad. And then I get to claim this baby and do something beautiful with the fact that the baby was lost. The baby now, for me, is found."
In Indiana, babies born at over 20 weeks are required by law to be buried or cremated. Hospitals try at length to reach the parents or family members. If unsuccessful after a certain point they reach out to Znachko.
She signs legally binding paperwork all the way from the hospital, to the funeral home, to the cemetery, where she's buried now 21 abandoned babies.
"I see that every one of my babies is an opportunity for me to talk about infant loss, bereavement subjects, the fact that we need to raise the stigma of miscarriage and stillborn loss and infant loss because there's so many families who walked in silence," Znachko said.
Giving each child a name, a gown and a proper send-off to celebrate their life.