Caring for children was always something Cori Salchert wanted to do.
However she and her husband, Mark Salchert, already had eight kids of their own and were busy with full-time jobs.
Five years ago, Cori Salchert had multiple surgeries as the result of an autoimmune disorder that caused gastrointestinal distress.
Sheboygan Press reports the toll of the illness ultimately led Cori to lose her job.
The illness led the Salcherts to realize their dream of adopting foster infants.
“My prayer at that time was asking how God could possibly use this for good,” Cori said.
The Salcherts first fostered Emmalynn in August 2012 after connecting with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s treatment foster care program.
Emmalynn was born with only her brain stem. She lived 50 days.
“Emmalynn lived more in 50 days than most people do in a lifetime,” Cori said.
The family took in Jayden shortly after, who grew to be a toddler and was ultimately adopted by a cousin of his biological parents.
Cori was still dealing with the loss of Emmalynn and Jayden’s adoption, but her husband Mark told her it was what she was meant to do.
She talked it over with her family, asking, “Are you all ready to do this again?”
Mary Elisabeth Salchert, one of the couple’s daughters, responded, “Mom, what if some kid really needs us and you’re just sitting here with a broken heart?”
With their family’s support, Cori and Mark contacted their social worker and were soon matched with Charlie, who has hypoxic ischemic brain encephalopathy.
The illness requires Charlie to depend on tube feeding, a ventilator and tracheostomy.
Nurses at the Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, taught Cori and Mark how to care for Charlie.
A nurse told Cori that any slight mistake with Charlie’s tubes would cause him to be unable to breathe.
Cori broke down in tears with fear, but says, “God told me we’re going to kick this fear in the butt. It’s OK to be afraid, but never let fear cripple your life.”
Charlie was adopted by the Salcherts Dec. 18.
While there are some challenges, the family bonds closely with Charlie.
But Cori knows the reality of caring for him.
“He will die; there’s no changing that, but, we can make a difference in how he lives, and the difference for Charlie is that he will be loved before he dies.
“These children need nurses, but the overarching thing is, they need moms. 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.”
When people ask Mark why his family cares for children like Charlie, he says, “God is love, and He loves this little boy, and He loves us to love him. Charlie is truly an amazing individual; he’s made us richer — more alive, in a sense.”