Cori and Mark Salchert of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, take care of sick babies in their last few days of life.
Essential Baby reports on what Cori Salchert refers to as “hospice babies,” infants who have a life-limiting diagnosis and whose parents who have given up guardianship of them.
“There was no judgment on my part that the parents should just be able to deal with the circumstances,” Cori said of her family’s decision to adopt hospice babies. “But I thought, ‘Wow, I would really like to take those kiddos and care for them.'”
She had prior experience helping families as a bereavement specialist with the Hope After Loss Organization (HALO), according to the Sheboygan Press. There, she made sure no child had to die alone.
Cori was left without a job, however, after she began experiencing gastrointestinal distress that led to multiple surgeries and complications. When she lost her job, she said she felt hopeless and without much idea of what to do.
“My prayer at that time was asking how God could possibly use this for good,” she said.
And they did find good out of the situation. The idea of adopting hospice babies always appealed to them, but did not seem feasible because the couple already had eight biological children. With extra time, they made it happen.
The process left an emotional toll, but Mark encouraged his wife to continue with treatment foster care, saying, “This is what she was meant to do.”
Their kids were involved in the decision process and were on board, too. One of their daughters said “Mom, what if some kid really needs us and you’re just sitting here with a broken heart?”
So far, the family has fostered three hospice babies and, on Dec. 18, adopted a little boy named Charlie who has hypoxic ischemic brain encephalopathy and is dependent on a tracheostomy, a ventilator and tube feeding, according to the report.
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Despite the cycle of grief the care brings, the family said they find foster care an extremely rewarding process.
“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,” Cori said.
For Cori, the difference, though fleeting, is immeasurable.
“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.”