Cori Salchert is an incredible woman. Not only is she a mom who adopts, but the babies she adopts are very special, indeed: they are hospice babies, destined to never see adulthood. But not only has Cori adopted one but now she is adopting her second. This bold, warm-hearted act of ultimate kindness is making headlines. Here’s the full story.
House Of Hope
Cori and Mark Salchert call their home a “house of hope.” No stranger to being a mom, Cori has had eight children of her own biologically. The former perinatal bereavement nurse began expanding her family to adopted children in 2012, opening her arms alongside her husband Mark to those whom she calls “hospice babies,” also known as babies with life-limiting or terminal diagnoses.
The Children Left Behind
Salchert says that for many of the hospice babies, their stories are the same: a family can’t bear to see their newborn die before their eyes, so they put him or her up for adoption. This is where Salchert, a very special adoption parent, steps in.
Emmalynn was the first.
Only living for fifty days, Emmalynn was the first of the babies the Salcherts decided to take in. She lived a life with very compassionate people as her family before she died, held in Cori’s arms.
A Lost Little Sister
Why would Salchert do this incredibly selfless act? It turns out that her sister, Amie, died at age eleven in a tragic drowning accident after wandering out of an unlocked door in a children’s home. It was an event that made her question her faith – and also, learn to let go of the hurt caused by loss, and redeem it instead.
Hope After Loss
Salchert became a registered nurse whose favorite patients were both those in hospice as well as maternity patients and newborns. Those who had dying babies had tough experiences – and the kind nurse realized they needed special care. So she founded the Hope After Loss Organization in Sheboygan to help families whose babies had died.
A Tough Time For Salchert
Salchert had physical problems, battling autoimmune diseases. She needed several surgeries to keep her digestive organs intact. It is, astonishingly enough, at this low point, when she received a pivotal call: August 2012’s question: would she be willing to take in a young child who was a hospice baby, baby Emmalynn?
Emmalynn’s Tiny Life Touches Many
“The baby’s prognosis was grim, as she was born without the right or left hemisphere of her brain, and doctors said there was no hope for her…,” Salchert wrote. “Taking all of that information in stride, we left to bring Emmalynn home, having been given the privilege to choose a meaningful name for her and allowed the priceless gift of being her family…Emmalynn lived more in 50 days than a number of folks do in a lifetime. She had not had a family, and now she was suddenly the youngest sibling of nine.”
Though Emmalynn left all too soon, her joy and love made a lasting impression on Salchert and her whole family. It opened them all up to the experience of being “hospice baby” parents.
Salchert’s new son, Charlie, is four months old. Adopted in much the same fashion, he has a type of brain damage that children typically die of by age two. Salchert knowingly adopted him anyway and loves him as much as any other child, albeit alongside the constraints of the life support machine and other accoutrements that are Charlie’s necessities.
Salchert’s parting thoughts on her experiences with Charlie and Emmalynn are poignant and worth repeating:
“We invest deeply, and we ache terribly when these kids die, but our hearts are like stained-glass windows. Those windows are made of broken glass which has been forged back together, and those windows are even stronger and more beautiful for having been broken.”
A beautiful thought from a beautiful heart. Many thanks to Salchert for not only sharing her home but also her story.
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