Cori Salchert, a former perinatal bereavement nurse with eight biological children, has been adopting “hospice babies” — infants with life-limiting or terminal diagnoses — since 2012. As an infant, Salchert’s younger sister Amie was left mentally and physically handicapped by spinal meningitis. Amie went to live in a home for similarly impaired children, but at the age of 11 wandered out of an unlocked door at the home and drowned in a nearby pond. Later, while working as a hospice nurse, Salchert found herself uniquely suited to comforting families who lost children. Salchert went on to found the Hope After Loss Organization in Sheboygan, Wisc., an organization aimed at offering hope to families whose babies had died.
Five years ago, Salchert found herself battling several autoimmune diseases for her own life. She was left in pain, bedridden, and unable to work. Then, in August 2012, she received a call, asking if she would take in a two-week-old terminally ill baby girl. She did and the newborn lived with Salchert’s family for 50 days, before passing away without pain. Two years later, Salchert took in another terminally ill child. “What a gift it is,” says Salfert, “to be a part of these babies’ lives, to have the ability to ease their suffering.” And despite the grief of investing love into these children only to lose them so soon, in the end she says it makes her stronger.
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