As a hospice nurse, Cori Salchert began to notice a heartbreaking practice. Some terminally ill babies were being abandoned by their families and left to die alone.
The Wisconsin mother of eight told the Sheboygan Press that she often would cradle terminally ill infants and children so “no one had to die alone.”
“There was no judgment on my part that the parents should just be able to deal with the circumstances,” Cori said. “But I thought, ‘Wow, I would really like to take those kiddos and care for them.’”
And that’s exactly what the Salchert family is doing. Cori and her husband, Mark, have taken in three terminally ill infants since they decided to pursue foster care ;less than five years ago, according to the report.
On Dec. 18, the family adopted a little boy named Charlie who has severe neurological impairments that force him to depend on a tracheostomy, ventilator and feeding tube, according to the report.
“He will die; there’s no changing that,” Cori said, brushing away a tear. “But, we can make a difference in how he lives, and the difference for Charlie is that he will be loved before he dies.”
“God is love, and He loves this little boy, and He loves us to love him,” Mark added. “Charlie is truly an amazing individual; he’s made us richer — more alive, in a sense.”
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The Salcherts decided to begin fostering these vulnerable, sick infants after they experienced a tragedy of their own. Five years ago, Cori was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that caused gastrointestinal distress. Faced with multiple surgeries and constant illness, Cori left her job as a perinatal hospice nurse, according to the report.
“My prayer at that time was asking how God could possibly use this for good,” Cori said.
The news report continues:
As fate would have it, Cori’s circumstances opened up the time for her to pursue the Salcherts’ dream of becoming foster parents to hospice infants. They connected with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s treatment foster care program, which matches families with children who have significant to severe behavioral or medical challenges.
The Salcherts brought home Emmalynn in August 2012. She did not have the left or right hemispheres of her brain, only the brain stem. She lived 50 days. Emmalynn passed away tucked into Cori’s fuzzy green robe “like a kangaroo” while foster mother and daughter sat alone at the kitchen table one night.
The Salcherts’ next foster child was Jayden, who was able to overcome his medical challenges to become a thriving toddler. He was ultimately adopted by a cousin of his biological parents.
With Emmalynn’s passing and Jayden leaving the home, the Salcherts were heartbroken. Cori recalls turning to Mark and saying she was done with treatment foster care, but her husband encouraged her that “this is what she was meant to do.”
With their biological children in full-support, Cori and Mark persevered. That’s when they received Charlie, who now is officially a member of their family.
The family said they enjoy cuddling, watching movies and taking walks with Charlie. Their local fire department also made Charlie an honorary fireman, the report states. Charlie’s life is making an impact on people in their community. His father said Charlie “really brings out the nobler parts of a community.”
This amazing family humbly told the newspaper that they are far from perfect. Cori refused to accept the label “supermom,” the report states. But the Salcherts truly are extraordinary people in a culture that often devalues terminally ill people by suggesting that their lives be destroyed by abortion or doctor-prescribed suicide.
“These children need nurses, but the overarching thing is, they need moms,” Cori said. “Too many people never do anything because they can’t do everything and can’t save everyone. For me, even though I can’t help every child, I’m happy to make a difference in the lives of a few.”