An Indianapolis woman is doing her best to give names and burials to dead babies who are aborted, miscarried, or abandoned.
Linda Znachko is the founder of He Knows Your Name, a ministry that gives children dignity and honor in life and in death.
She told Life Dynamics that she connects with women in their darkest days—in the wake of a child’s death, following a miscarriage, or even decades after an abortion—to honor the life of their loved one, no matter how short or tragic that life may have been.
“When you give dignity to someone who has died – you yourself receive dignity for your own life,” she told Life Dynamics.
Linda is a deeply religious woman whose only goal is to honor her Lord Jesus Christ, “We are written in the palm of His hands,” she said, “When we honor others we validate the importance of life.”
He Knows Your Name Ministries was birthed in October of 2009 when the body of a newborn baby, dressed only in a diaper, was discovered in downtown Indianapolis.
Baby Nicholas only lived 13 hours during his tiny life outside the womb. When Nicholas died, his mother, who wanted nothing to do with the child, left others to handle the arrangements. The baby had been put in the care of a funeral home to be cremated but instead was found later in a dumpster, discarded like trash.
Linda Znachko said that when she heard the news three thoughts rang through her head: “A dumpster is NOT a grave! A diaper is NOT a burial gown! And Doe is NOT a name!”
Linda’s first step was to call the Marion County Coroner’s office where she asked the receptionist what would happen to the little boy.
The Coroner’s office told Znachko that the child would be disposed of.
“I was silenced with sickness,” she states.
“What did that even mean? I telephoned repeatedly until I reached Chief Deputy Coroner Ballew – or Alfie, as I would come to know her. I asked her to allow me to bury this child when the investigation was over, and she gave me her word she would work with me.”
After an investigation revealed the baby’s mother, Linda said that she met with her.
The mother, Nichole , told Linda that after her son’s death she decided to have her son cremated and, though she tried to contact the funeral home several times, they never returned her calls. She slipped into a deep depression with many months passing while she was left without answers. Nichole learned that Boatwright Funeral Home had engaged in multiple, illegal disposals of remains…one of whom had been her son.
Sixteen months later, when the news reported a child found in a dumpster, Nichole never imagined it was her son.
Linda knew that she would have to get permission from Nicholas’ mother to bury him and she wrote about that encounter on the website:
That first conversation brought another unexpected revelation. In our short exchange, Nichole told me that her son’s name was Nicholas. After months of wondering, I relished the sound of it: Nicholas. My heart opened. I did my best to explain to Nichole the odd series of events by which I’d come to so love her son. And as the words escaped my lips, I suddenly knew, in my deep places, that I now had a new purpose. This was no longer just about the precious bones waiting for burial. I knew, as I stood before her, that my new purpose was to honor this distraught mother by offering her a funeral that honored her son. I didn’t want her to have to endure the costs and burden of organizing planning and making decisions. This was a gift I wanted to give to Nichole.
But, if she was to accept, I quickly realized, she’d have to sign over her son’s body to another funeral home. How on earth could I ask that of a woman who’d been unspeakably violated by those in whose care her baby had first been entrusted? Realizing that Nichole might be re-traumatized by the necessary legality, I wanted to ease her burden. Looking Nichole in the eye, touching her arm, I gently explained, “I loved your child and I love you. I have wanted to bury this baby, and it’s still something I’d like to do for you. It’s a gift I’d like to give you. Do you think you can trust me?”
Her answer was the one I’d prayed for: “Yes.”
On the He Knows Your Name website, they make it clear what they hope to accomplish, “It is our desire to be life-givers of hope, redemption, freedom, dignity, and new-found joy. For parents who have experienced the tragic loss of a child and for the children who have suffered the loss of their parent.”
To do that they want every child to be given a name:
Dignity and Honor: Naming aborted and miscarried babies can bring you healing in death.
A Living Legacy: Memorializing a loved one can provide comfort by giving them a new identity in death.
Joy, Freedom, and Restoration: Read the stories of parents left behind and discover how this journey becomes life-giving.
Linda shares that, “Sadly it is a fact that, even with the Safe Haven law, babies are still abandoned, buried in nameless graves, with no headstone to mark either their deaths or – more importantly – their lives. He Knows Your Name Ministry strives to ensure that every child receives a name in life and dignity and honor in death.”
DIGNITY TO ABORTED CHILDREN
Linda is not shy about her views on abortion.
In 2014, Linda wrote how she counseled with a woman to help her name her 3 aborted babies.
Linda even had a charm necklace made with the etchings of her babies names.
“I give all the families I help a necklace,” she told Life Dynamics. She said that it was a tangible way for them to remember their child every day.
The ministry also posts regularly about the topic on Facebook from prayers for women seeking abortion to the dignity each child must have even in their death.
As we combed through the ministry’s Facebook page we also came across this post, “In HONOR of ALL the children that lost their lives at the hands of Gosnell, I give tribute to their SACRED lives by showing the affirmation of LIFE certificate given to each of them in their NAMING service. ALL LIFE is SACRED. Thank you Lord, that YOU will bring them out of their distress. In the NAME of Jesus Christ. Ps 25:17″
Along with it was an Affirmation of Life Certificate signed by Fr. Frank Pavone at Priests for Life.
Linda told Life Dynamics that she recently helped with the funeral of a child who died at 25 weeks gestation.
She said that the baby’s mother was being pressured to have an abortion but stood her ground to keep her baby.
According to Linda, a kind woman took the pregnant girl into her home and helped her through the pregnancy. When the baby died the woman helping the teen then took money out of her own savings account to be certain that the child received a dignified burial. She also contacted Linda who gladly agreed to help.
Linda said that she offered to provide a headstone not only for the baby’s mother but because she wanted the woman who helped the young pregnant girl to be blessed as well.
“When people express value and dignity in life, no matter where they are in their woundedness a deep healing comes because of that blessing,” Linda said.
ADOPTING IN DEATH
Linda told Life Dynamics that her ministry has traveled to several states where she has helped about 25 families with funeral expenses such as headstones.
In addition, He Knows Your Name has gone as far as taking legal custody of a child’s remains and giving them a burial — “adopting in death,” as she calls it, according to a report by the Indy Star.
A statement posted on the ministry Facebook page summarizes Linda’s feelings about the children she helps bury, “On days like today, when I order one of these, I am eternally thankful for these words…”People were bringing babies to Jesus…..and he said, Let the little children come to me…” Lk 18 #everylifematters #solittle.”
Linda told Life Dynamics that her term, “Adopting in Death,” it is not a catchy phrase or just words to tug on the heart.
“Every transaction is a legal transaction,” Linda stated.
“I sign the release from the hospital and the morgue. I get the autopsy reports and I sign the land plot that the baby is buried in,” she said.
Linda is constantly sharing her vision with various organizations including churches and women’s ministries. She hopes that by passing her passion and love for these children and their families to others more people will step up and do the same in their city.
“Last year, every month I’ve been doing something and it has all escalated,” Linda said about her work.
“The bottom line is that I have a heart for the Gospel. I am pro-Jesus and pro-redemtion,” she said emotionally.