Grieving couple unable to cremate stillborn, conjoined infants due to NC law

Posted at 2:13 AM, May 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-27 02:13:05-04

APEX, NC (WRAL/CNN) – Because of a North Carolina state law that says two people can’t be cremated at the same time, one grieving family cannot properly mourn their conjoined twin infants.

Unable to cremate their stillborn children, Daniel and Kristin Christensen said the passing days are adding to their pain and grief.

“We just want peace. We just want our babies to come home,” Kristin Christensen said.

Twenty weeks into their pregnancy, the couple’s hearts were lifted and broken in nearly the same moment. They were told they were pregnant with twin girls, but then, they were told the pregnancy had a rare complication.

A membrane between their daughters was missing, allowing the girls to become intertwined.

Two weeks later, the twins were delivered stillborn.

“No more heartbeats, they both, unfortunately, passed,” Kristin Christensen said.

The couple decided they wanted to cremate their babies, but there was more heartbreaking news: a North Carolina law on cremation procedures forbids the cremation of more than one person within the same cremation chamber.

The couple said it is medically difficult to tell the two girls apart.

“They weren’t able to separate them, so right now, they are combined,” Daniel Christensen said. “We want to cremate them, and we don’t even have that choice.”

The Christensens said even if it were possible, they would not want to separate the babies.

“We don’t want them separated. They were never separated,” Kristin Christensen said.

A burial was suggested to the family, but the parents said that is not what they want for their girls.

Never passed, a North Carolina House bill, presented last year, could have prevented legal turmoil for the family.

The bill would allow the “remains of multiple fetuses from the same mother and the same birth” as well as the “remains of triplets up to 1 year old” to be cremated together.

Stephen Davis, the executive director of the state Funeral Services Board, says the board is fully behind the proposed change.

“The focus in this particular case is what can be done legislatively and eliminate this or, hopefully, prevent such an occurrence from happening in the future,” he said.

The family is considering having the babies cremated in another state or getting a judge to intervene. They say they want the law changed, so another family is not caught in this same situation.

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