One Baby Lived, The Other Baby Died: Finding and Sharing Hope After Tragedy

National   |   Nancy Flanders   |   Jun 9, 2013   |   4:42PM   |   Washington, DC

Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — When Marlena Diedrich and her husband Joseff learned they were expecting twin girls, they were ecstatic. Like most parents, they hoped and prayed for a healthy pregnancy, and for the majority of the pregnancy, all was well.

However, at 30 weeks, Marlena went into labor. Doctors were able to stop it, but they discovered that one of the girls – already named Grace – was under distress and wasn’t taking in any amniotic fluid. Grace was given a very poor prognosis, and Marlena was transported to a different hospital with a new team of doctors and a more advanced neonatal intensive care unit.

She was told she must remain there on bed rest with the hopes of making it to 36 weeks’ gestation. Doctors were unable to diagnose Grace or determine if Elle, her twin, was going to be affected. Because she kept going into labor, Marlena was on multiple medications. And though her husband and mother were able to be with her, she still dealt with a great deal of sadness and frustration.

Marlena and Elle

Marlena and Elle.

“This was the black hole of my life,” says Marlena. “We talked a lot about what was going to happen and what could happen. We knew we were going to have to make this decision of what we were going to do when the babies came. One might not be living. They both may be in the NICU. I was devastated. I was angry. I had a lot of anger because I took care of myself and my babies, but felt guilty wondering what I did wrong. My emotions were out of control and all very negative. I was really scared. We would have been such great parents to twin girls.”

But while she was in the hospital, Marlena started to realize that her situation wasn’t as bad as some of the other mothers’. There were women in the hospital who had come from other states and were alone there. Some women were only 23 weeks along and had months to go. Marlena was able to have her family with her as well as her extended support network, which included her friends and her pastor. In that way, Marlena knew she was blessed.

After seven weeks in the hospital, at 37 weeks’ gestation, Marlena gave birth to her girls, but Grace was stillborn. Elle, however, was healthy enough to go home right away. Marlena was glad to be home, but at the same time, she was still dealing with a great deal of emotion. She had a newborn to care for, but she was also mourning Grace. And she couldn’t stop thinking about those women in the hospital, alone and worrying about their babies. Marlena wanted to help them, and she also wanted a way to remember Grace.

“I wanted to show that my baby, now in Heaven, was a human being, and though she didn’t have a life here on Earth, her life still had meaning,” explains Marlena. “So we started the Acts of Grace Foundation as a tribute. We go to hospitals and provide social activities so the women can get out of their rooms. They might not have everything in common with each other, but at this moment in time, they are in the hospital together, and they all want their babies to be okay. That’s what connects them.”

Joe, Cal, Elle, and Marlena at a game night for Acts of Grace Foundation

Joe, Cal, Elle, and Marlena at a game night for Acts of Grace Foundation.

While Marlena and Joseff both work full-time and care for Elle and their son, they find the time to run The Acts of Grace Foundation. Acts of Grace holds game and craft nights to bring the women together for support, provides necessities like shampoo, and also gives out luxuries like books and DVDs to the women. They currently do most of their work in the Denver area, but they send packages to other hospitals and are hoping to expand.

In the five years since Acts of Grace was founded, Marlena has been able to help over 1,500 women. All of the women are from different backgrounds – some placing their children for adoption, some in unstable relationships – but all of them are concerned for their children. And right alongside Marlena and these women is Elle.

“Elle knows about Grace. She loves to go with us and go into the hospital rooms and give the women the gifts, hand out ice cream, push the wheelchairs. And the women love to see her. We explain a lot to her, but I don’t know how much she fully understands. She talks about Grace a lot and tells her classmates that she has a twin and she’s up in Heaven and that we’re all going to see her when we go to Heaven.”

The number-one way you can help the Acts of Grace Foundation is by spreading the word about them. You can also donate books, movies, and personal hygiene products. Additional volunteer opportunities are listed here.

If you’re able to donate financially, Acts of Grace has a $7 on the Seventh program where you can set up a recurring donation of $7 on the seventh day of each month. Just visit this page to sign up.

Woman Conceived in Incest: Please Don’t Kill Children Like Me in Abortion

by Nancy Flanders | Washington, DC | | 6/4/13 10:01 AM


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Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Kristi Hofferber has always known she was adopted. At three days old she was welcomed into the loving home of her parents, who were unable to have biological children. She was an only child, and her parents felt no need to hide the adoption, as they knew adoption wasn’t something to be ashamed of. And Kristi wasn’t ashamed, but she was worried that if she looked for her birth mother, it might hurt her parents in some way. So for years, she denied that she had any desire to find her birth family.

“I had a wonderful childhood. My parents gave me everything I needed.  Many adoptees have a desire to know more. I did have that desire,” she says, “I finally decided it was the right time to look further into my adoption and I tried to do it without telling my adoptive parents, and that didn’t work out in my favor. I wasn’t able to get any information and I knew, at the same time, that I wasn’t doing it the right way, that I should be honest with my parents. So I asked them for information and they were very upfront. The answer I got was difficult to hear.”

Kristi’s parents told her that when she was thirteen a newspaper article had been run about a court case in which a woman was pressing charges against her own father for years of rape. Kristi’s parents recognized the woman’s name as Kristi’s birth mother because although it was a closed adoption, her parents received paperwork from the birth mother’s attorney that had included the birth mother’s name. Kristi learned that there had been six children created over the years of incest. One died due to physical abuse causing Kristi’s mother to miscarry. Another four were terminated through abortion in order to cover up the incest.  And a sixth child was placed for adoption. It seemed likely that Kristi was that child and that she had been conceived through incest.

”Of course I wasn’t expecting that. I had no idea. It had never crossed my mind,” says Kristi, “It took me a few weeks to really think about going further with my search. If this is accurate (information) what was this going to bring up for (my mother)?”

But Kristi, who was now 30, felt it was in God’s plans for her to find her mother, so she continued her search. It took only two days for Kristi to find her mother online. She sent a blind email to her from a partial address she had found, hoping it was the right person, and it was. Kristi received a response almost immediately and that weekend, met not only her birth mother, but her half-sister and her sister’s newborn son. Kristi stayed with her birth mother for several days and eventually, her mother told her the story about what had happened, despite efforts from her family to keep it a secret. The story Kristi had heard from her parents was confirmed. Her birth mother’s father had raped her over a period of more than 20 years and Kristi was created in one of those rapes when her mother was just 16.

“I’m very thankful that I chose to go ahead and find her,” says Kristi, “I felt both sad and also blessed to have been carried to term and brought into this world.  The only information I know about why my life was spared was that my biological mother chose to hide the pregnancy for a time. She actually wasn’t sure I was alive because she didn’t see me after I was born and she accidently received a bill for an infection I had at birth. I was flown to another hospital to be treated and she had been told that it was likely that I didn’t survive.”

While their relationship hasn’t always been easy, Kristi and her birth mother talk every few weeks. Kristi truly believes that God brought them together and she is grateful to be able to continue their relationship. She is also grateful for her life.

I have a wonderful family, beautiful son who is adopted, and loving husband who is also adopted and who has been a tremendous support in this journey.  We are pieced together by God’s design.  So many lives are effected by the loss of just one child through abortion.  It is hard to even imagine how different things could have been.  I am very grateful to my biological mother for protecting me and then placing me for adoption.  I was placed in a wonderful family who took me in with their arms wide open an gave me the love and care I needed.   For this, I am also eternally grateful!

After learning her birth story, Kristi’s goals in life changed. She had been working full time and decided that her career wasn’t where her heart was. She went back to school for social work  and plans to become an adoption counselor so she can help women who are facing the difficult situation of pregnancy in cases like her mother’s.

Kristi learned from her birth mother that because of lack of evidence, her father only served 18 months in prison. Kristi would have been that evidence, but her mother was unable to locate her because her adoption information was sealed.  He died over a year ago and Kristi never had the desire to meet him.

About abortion in cases of incest, Kristi says:

I truly feel that no matter the circumstances surrounding the conception of the child, the child should not be punished for the crime of the father. And I truly feel that when someone says (abortion should be illegal) except in cases of rape and incest that exactly what’s happening. The child is being punished for the crimes of the father, and not given the life that the child deserves. Especially coming from the place I am, I truly feel like every child should be given a chance at the life that they’re given.



You can read more about Kristi, and stories like hers at

LifeNews Note: Nancy is a work at home mom who writes about parenting, special needs children, and the right to life. She is the lucky mother of two spirited little girls, one who has cystic fibrosis, and she spends any free moment she can find fundraising for a cure for CF. You can read her personal blog at Reprinted from Live Action News.