Friday, April 14, 2017

“A House of Hope” – That is what Cori Salchert and her husband, Mark, call their home. Cori previously worked as a Perinatal Bereavement Nurse while raising her own at biological children but that was not the end of her parenting days.

In 2012, Cori started adopting what she calls “hospice babies” (babies with terminal diagnosis or life-limiting diseases).

Cori Salchert and her family take care of adopted son, Charlie
Often these babies come from families who are unable to deal with their child’s condition and chose to step away from their child because they cannot stand to witness their child dying.

The very first child Cori and her husband adopted, Emmalynn, lived for a total of 50 days before dying in the couple’s arms.  After Emmalynn’s death, the Salchert family has made it their life goal to care for as many babies as possible.

So what sparked Cori’s passion for helping children in need?
Her story begins during her childhood when her sister, Amie, was diagnosed with Contracted Spiral Meningitis. Ultimately, the disease destroyed a significant amount of brain function, leaving her handicapped both mentally and physically. Unable to care for their child, Cori’s parents opted to put Amie in a home for severely disabled children.

At the age of eleven, Amie wandered out of the home and ended up drowning in a nearby golf course pond.

Cori Salchert with her husband, Mark

She likely died alone and scared unable to understand what was happening to her. Her death has often troubled Cori causing her to question where God was in her sister’s time of need.

As an adult, Cori heard the song lyrics of Unredeemed by Selah: “It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored, but anything that’s shattered that’s laid before the Lord will not be unredeemed.”

These lyrics changed how Cori addressed God. Instead of questioning where he was, she began to lay down her hurt before God and he answered her question with, “Here, you take this and redeem it.”

Working as a registered nurse, Cori connected with almost every type of patient, but her favorite were hospice care patients and working with maternity patients and newborns.

When she transitioned from hospice care to maternity care, Cori quickly realized that there were so many more families that came in expecting to have a baby only to end up leaving with empty arms and she was then drawn to these families and wanted to help them.

Cori Salchert gently kisses her adopted son, Charlie

Her strong desire to provide love and compassion to these families as they were dealing with the loss or the potential loss compelled Cori to start the Hope After Loss Organization in Sheboygan. The foundation is designed to offer hope to families who had lose their babies.

Then in a twist in her life, Cori had a health crisis of her own, battling several autoimmune diseases requiring her to have multiple surgeries to attempt to repair damage done from the diseases. Ultimately, Cori was left bedridden and unable to work and questioning why God would let this happen to her.

But God had an answer to her question and he answered with a little girl needing a family to love her.

Cori Salchert with her adopted son, Charlie
In August of 2012, a baby girl, Emmalynn, was left without a family or a name and left with a grim prognosis. She was born without a significant portion of her brain and the doctors had no hope for her life. She would live in a vegetative state until she would eventually pass away.

This did not deter Cori, and she and her family left the next day to bring home this little baby and welcome her into their family. Over the next 50 days, the Salchert family loved this little girl with ferocity until she peacefully passed away in Cori’s arms.

Cori and Mark have 8 children of their own
Had they not taken this little girl into their home, Emmalynn would have died alone in a hospital crib. Their kindness gave Emmalynn the chance to feel love and be comforted in the short time that she lived.

A few short years later, they took in a little boy named Charlie who had been given a life-limiting diagnosis with brain damage. The type of diagnosis Charlie was given, typically results in the child dying before the age of two as they cease breathing and need to be resuscitated.

While his life is a difficult one and his medical needs wear on the Salchert’s, they continue to love Charlie with the same fierceness they loved Emmalynn because they believe that he should feel loved and be cherished no matter how long his life may be.

The Salchert’s invest deeply in each child that comes under their care and feel great loss when the child dies but their hearts are like stained-class windows – made of broken glass that has been forged back together into something more beautiful.

“Because, overall, a smidge of our story is sad — yes — but if that’s all that’s seen, 95 percent of the joy has been missed.”

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