RIVERSIDE, Calif. Lisa Musil spent years privately mourning the two nameless babies she aborted as a young woman. In April she honored them in a very public way as her husband Stan "posthumously adopted" her children on Rich Buhler's "Talk From the Heart" radio show on KBRT AM-740 in Southern California.
"Every time that I look at herwhen she see babiesit still reminds her of it," Stan Musil said in a phone interview after the adoption. "Those babies are a big part of her and I want them to be a big part of me, too."
Stan came up with the unusual idea while they were discussing a soon-to-be constructed memorial to the unborn that Lisa's ministry, White as Wool, is in the process of developing.
To be located at the Pierce Brothers Crestlawn Memorial Park & Mortuary in Riverside, the 5-foot granite memorial will include etched name plates for aborted children. It was during the planning process that Lisa wondered aloud what last name to use for her lost children. Although the couple met and married years after her abortions, Stan offered up his own last name for Alicia Anne and Vincent Matthew.
"I wanted to be closer to her," Stan said. "To me words are cheap. Actions are more powerful. To me it was something that came naturally. It was another way of being closer to Lisa."
The offer touched Lisa, now barren, at the center of her being.
"That was the most loving action," she said. "It was so endearing. It wasn't just giving a name, but going about it in a way that would acknowledge my children. It's a new level of intimacy. Scripture says a good name is better than great riches."
Stan said he now has another reason to rejoice in eternity.
"I can't wait to see my babies in heaven," he said. "It's amazing how God has opened tremendous doors."
A door to healing
For Lisa the doors opened a crack 19 years ago, when she met Jesus Christ through the ministry of Greg Laurie. Not long after her conversion, Lisa said she felt compelled to minister to post-abortive women like herself.
"Then I realized, how could I possibly tell people it's wrong when I did it myself?" she said.
It was then she went through the Linda Cochrane book "Forgiven and Set Free: A Post-Abortion Bible Study for Women."
"God opened the flood gates," she said. "I was just wailing and weeping. I was in denial. I would use words like 'I terminated my pregnancy."
The more she began to understand fetal development, the more significant her decisions to abort became.
"I hadn't been healed," she said. "I hadn't dealt with it."
It was that Bible study, she said, that finally brought healing and resolution.
"If it was just a blob of tissue, why did I still hurt?" she said. "I needed to find forgiveness; I needed to find peace."
She said society's perception that abortion is a routine medical procedure undermines the mental and spiritual ramifications of taking a life.
"You go in one kind of a person and you come out a completely different person," she said of the abortion process. "And when you come to know Jesus Christ, you come out a new creation in Christ, a new person."
With the healing behind her, Lisa said she finally felt ready to begin leading Bible studies, but the heart of her ministry shifted years ago while visiting a the National Memorial for the Unborn in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Southern California, she pondered, needed its own memorial.
"We didn't have a place to go," Lisa said of post-abortive women. "We don't have a burial site where we can go to pray, sit on a bench, bring some flowers."
Nearly all of the funding for the project is complete, although $3,000 is still needed.
"After 14 years that dream of mine is coming true," she said. "I've done nothing at all. It's all of the Lord."
With the blessing of the memorial park's owners, the Riverside memorial to the unborn will be located about 50 feet south of another significant cemetery tribute created by Cradles of Love. That location marks the burial site of 54 aborted fetuses, which were discovered a decade ago by children playing around in a Chino Hills field. Bob Shelley, founder of Cradles of Love, worked persistently for 18 months to secure custody of the remains, which were found in cardboard boxes. Until Shelley's intervention, the county had planned to dispose of them as hazardous waste.
Spreading the word
The publicity from the ceremonial adoption has prompted others to pursue their own adoptions and has shed light on the White as Wool memorial project. Lisa has been interviewed by Fox News, American Family Life, Focus on the Family and a Philadelphia radio station.
Ronald Stoddart, an attorney who handles domestic, international and embryo adoptions, developed the ceremonial adoption papers for the Musils and is now making it available to others.
"We knew the court wouldn't recognize it," said Stoddart, who also serves as executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions in Fullerton. "But that's not the point of it anyway."
One of those pursuing the abortion adoption is a woman's husband and her daughter, who wants to acknowledge her lost sibling.
Stoddart said he believes the concept is a "healthy way for families to deal with" the trauma of abortion.
"They could grieve together and give them his name and not look at it like, well, that happened before me," Stoddart said of the Musils.
He commended Stan for his openness to Lisa's past.
"Abortion is (centered) so much around secrets," he said. "If you have an abortion, no one will know you had sex before marriage. No one will know you were pregnant."
For Stan, Lisa's revelation about her abortions was never a stumbling block in their courtship.
"We all have our pasts," he said. "That why Christ died for our sins. I love her even more because she was open to me about her past and I was open to her about my past."
Stoddart said he's just grateful for their testimony.
"It's nice to hear a positive, God-honoring story to tell," Stoddart said.
For more information about the memorial project, call 1-800-750-3771.