Morgan’s Place offers closure to grieving families

SIDNEY — While grieving the loss of their child, Mollie and Nathan Verdier were faced with a heavy task: finding a way to give her a proper burial.

“I had never experienced anything like that before,” Mollie said. “We just kind of put our baby up on the mantle in an urn, and she just kind of sat there. Tensions kind of grew in our home, because my husband wanted to follow the teachings of the church, and I just really had this beautiful fire (…) of love burning inside of me, to keep her close to our home.”

When Mollie and Nathan were looking at cemeteries where they could bury their daughter, who was miscarried in 2018, they found that plots would cost them anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars when she was just millimeters in size. After many hard nights and prayers for God to soften one of their hearts, Mollie woke up, wide-eyed, in the early hours of the morning with an epiphany: she and Nathan were supposed to build a baby cemetery.

“Nathan didn’t say no. I just remember waking him up and saying, ‘Nathan, we’re going to build this baby cemetery’,” Mollie said. “And he didn’t say no, and it just kind of started off like that.”

The cemetery, named Morgan’s Place after their daughter, has an initial 4,160 plots and sits on the Verdier’s farmland, offering a final resting place to stillborn, miscarried and aborted babies. They have partnered with several funeral homes in Shelby, Miami, Montgomery, Logan, Champaign, Mercer, Auglaize and Darke counties to assist with cremation and burials at no charge; the only cost at Morgan’s Place is a grave marker, which costs generally between $100 and $150 — something their website says can be covered through donations.

“I’ve been amazed the amount of support we’ve been getting from women who have lost their babies 10, 20, 30 years ago, that are reaching out and that are just heartbroken. Some of them haven’t grieved their baby yet; some of them haven’t named their baby yet,” Mollie said. “I think bringing the ministry of Morgan’s Place to the eyes of the community and letting it into their hearts, it’s allowing them the opportunity to talk about something that was just a very dark time in their life.”

While grieving the loss of another baby in 2019 — a triplet who didn’t make it to term — Mollie said that God kept guiding her and Nathan to further the ministry of Morgan’s Place. It was around this time that they began looking into how they could help babies that are lost through abortion. Through a gravesite mapping company that implements GPS points for gravemarkers, Mollie and Nathan will be able to take data provided by the state in accordance with the recently passed Senate Bill 27 and put it in their mapping system; Mollie said that if and when a mother is ready to locate her baby and find some healing, she will be able to do so.

“We really just want to be part of that post-partum healing, and just to offer to every abortion clinic in Ohio free burials on the grounds of Morgan’s Place,” Mollie said.

Senate Bill 27, which requires any fetal remains to be buried or cremated, will go into effect on April 6, 2021. Mollie and Nathan testified on behalf of the bill on Dec. 3, 2020 — three weeks after they came out to the public with Morgan’s Place. The experience was made possible through connections the couple made with the Shelby County Right to Life while carrying out their vision for the cemetery.

“Any time that you’re the voice for the unborn, it’s very moving. We were there with a lot of great women who had been championing this cause for five years. We came in kind of at the eleventh hour, and we were there for the victory,” Mollie said. “It was obviously a beautiful experience, and I’m glad Morgan’s Place could be part of it that day. It was an honor.”

Mollie and Nathan also had the opportunity to attend the Abortion Leader’s Recovery Conference in November of 2020; Mollie said that this was something that catapulted the idea of them testifying at the Ohio House of Representatives. It was there that she met a woman who had received an abortion 50 years ago and said that what haunted her the most was not knowing where her baby was, and that she wouldn’t get to visit her.

“I think for me, even though the circumstances between both of our losses were very different, in that moment we were both just grieving parents who wanted to give their babies a dignified burial,” Mollie said. “I think that we can bring post-abortive families some mercy and some peace that they’re looking for when they’re ready.”