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How one mom’s extraordinary love transforms the short lives of hospice babies

Cori Salchert calls the home she shares with her husband, Mark, a “house of hope.” A former perinatal bereavement nurse with eight biological children, Salchert began adopting what she calls “hospice babies” —babies with life-limiting or terminal diagnoses in 2012.

Salchert says these babies come from families who find it difficult to deal with the condition their child was born with. Many step away because they can’t bear to witness the end of their child’s life.

The first of the Salcherts’ hospice babies, Emmalynn, lived for 50 days before dying while cradled in Cori’s arms. Since then, the Salcherts and their children have made it their mission to care for as many babies that need it.

The family first told their story to the Sheboygan Press earlier this month. Here, Cori Salchert tells TODAY’s Terri Peters about the road that led her to shelter these sick children in their final days.

As I sit here at the dining room table, the whirring sound of Charlie’s ventilator and oxygen condenser in the background, I feel I should go back to where this passion for kids began.

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.

When my younger sister, Amie, was an infant, she contracted spinal meningitis. After the high fevers from the infection destroyed quite a bit of her brain function, leaving her mentally and physical handicapped, she went to live in a children’s home for kids who were severely impaired like she was.

When Amie was eleven, she wandered out of an unlocked door at this children’s home and drowned in a pond on a nearby golf course. She was most likely alone and struggling to understand why she couldn’t breathe and there was no one there to help her.

Throughout my life, I struggled with the question, “Where was God when my sister needed Him most?”

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