September 22, 2014

Emotional moment for two women who gave birth to stillborns

Families who’ve had a stillborn child will be able to get a state-issued birth certificate under legislation that has cleared both the Iowa Senate and House.

Christine Grothe of Conesville cried as the Senate passed the bill Wednesday afternoon.

“Nora will finally have a birth certificate,” Grothe said. “It’s been 11 years.”

Grothe began lobbying legislators to change this state policy a decade ago. Mandy Ford of Clarinda joined the effort this past fall.

“I had a dream the night that we buried our daughter, Melody,” Ford said. “We buried her on August 29 and I emailed Christine the next morning and I said, ‘I don’t know why. I don’t know how, but I want to see this through.”

Right after Ford delivered her stillborn daughter, she and Grothe connected on-line through the MISS Foundation, a group that helps parents who’ve suffered the trauma of a child’s death. State officials say about 200 babies are stillborn in Iowa every year. The bill would let parents who’ve had stillborn children get a state birth certificate as well as a death certificate, and give parents in the future that option if their child is stillborn.

“This is for Nora. This is for Melody,” Ford said, “and for all our children.”

If the governor, as expected, signs this bill into law, Iowa will join 32 other states that offer both a birth certificate and a death certificate to the parents of babies who are stillborn.

The MISS Foundation sponsors “Kindness Walks” for families who’ve lost a child. Ford plans to use any money raised during the “Kindness Walk” in Clarinda this May to put “grief packets” in doctors’ offices, hospitals and funeral homes to provide information about support services that are available to families who’ve buried a child.