SHEBOYGAN, Wisc. — The story of a Wisconsin mother of eight who has been caring for hospice babies in the foster system for the past five years has gone viral, generating millions of views and much support.
Cori Salchert first became aware that some parents were relinquishing guardianship of their ill infants while working as a registered nurse and a bereavement specialist for the Hope After Loss Organization (HALO).
She told the Sheboygan Press last January that she found that many such babies are left in a bassinet in a corner of a hospital room, and if they have a feeding tube, they aren’t held much, if at all.
“There was no judgment on my part that the parents should just be able to deal with the circumstances,” Salchert outlined to the outlet. “But I thought, ‘Wow, I would really like to take those kiddos and care for them.'”
However, she soon became ill with an autoimmune disorder and found herself out of work. Discouraged, she asked God how He could use the situation for good.
During this time, Salchert realized that she now had the opportunity to pursue her desire to take in what she called “hospice babies.” She contacted the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and became involved with their foster care program, and soon became matched with a baby girl, who she was informed was in a vegetative state, had a bleak prognosis, and had no name or anyone to care for her.
“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,” Salchert wrote for TODAY.
Emmalyn lived for 50 days surrounded by those who loved her.
“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,” she recalled. “We held her constantly and took her everywhere with us.”
Emmalyn passed into eternity one night as Salchert held her and sang “Jesus Loves Me.”
“Emmalynn had left her tiny impression on our lives,” Salchert outlined, “and while we were grieving her loss, we eventually began to heal and consider taking in another baby.”
She then took in a baby named Jayden, who actually was able to conquer his illness and was adopted by a relative.
In 2014, Salchert fostered another child, named Charlie, who was diagnosed with Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Encephalopathy and was deemed to be terminal. She and her husband adopted Charlie in December 2015, and he continues to be a fighter to this day.
“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,” Salchert said.
“These children need nurses, but the overarching thing is, they need moms,” she stated. “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.”
Salchert’s story, which was shared again last month by the TODAY Show, has generated three million views and 21K likes as of press time.
“Sometimes I feel like I can’t do this because it’s a lot,” she acknowledges in the video. “And then other times I realize that I am not being asked to do anything that God is not going to give me the grace and strength to do.”