This is not a story you hear everyday. Wisconsin mom Cori Salchert adopts terminally ill babies. Why? She wants to make sure they are loved and have the best possible life before they pass from this world. If that’s not the best and most selfless thing you’ve heard all day, I don’t know what it.
Having a child with a terminal illness and short life expectancy is unimaginably painful, and there’s no easy way to deal with this kind of loss and suffering. Salchert is a nurse, perinatal bereavement specialist, and mother of eight biological kids herself. Through Hope After Loss, an organization created in 1995 to support grieving families that lost babies or pregnancies, Salchert has adopted several terminally ill babies.
In 2012, Salchert adopted her first baby when she was told there was a 2-week-old baby girl with no name, and no family to take care of her in her last moments. Apparently, hospice babies, as Salchert calls them, are left without families because they can’t handle watching their children die. This means the babies spend their short lives in hospitals, knowing no real love. When Salchert brought her first adopted baby, Emmalynn, home, she told TODAY why:
“She could have died in the hospital, wrapped in a blanket and set to the side because she was being sustained with a feeding pump. But we brought this beautiful baby home to live, and live she did.”
Emmalynn lived for 50 days surrounded by Salchert’s family–she died in Salchert’s arms, which is unbelievably tragic and bittersweet. It’s a testament to Salchert’s incredible and fierce ability to love, and love completely. This year, Salchert and her family have adopted Charlie, a boy who lives with brain damage and lives on life support. He only has a year to live, but that doesn’t stop Salchert from giving him the chance to have a family:
“For years, I had wanted to care for babies who had a life-limiting prognosis like Charlie or a terminal diagnosis like Emmalynn. What a gift it is to be a part of these babies’ lives, to have the ability to ease their suffering, to cherish and love them even though they aren’t able to give anything tangible back or even smile in return for our efforts.”
People like Salchert are a true inspiration–it’s easy to get caught up in the daily stresses in our lives, but this calls for us to look outside of ourselves, and be kinder, more compassionate, and remind ourselves to be grateful for what we have.