Betty and Emery Corey planned to spend their retirement traveling in their motor home. Instead, they are rearing sick babies -- children born to mothers infected with AIDS.
"We just couldn't turn our backs on these unwanted children," says Mrs. Corey, 61. "They deserve to be loved . . . to be raised in a nurturing, safe and loving family."
Since 1986, the Coreys have been foster parents to tiny, fragile infants born drug-infected or HIV-positive.
They began the undertaking in their Middle River home. To expand, they sold most of their belongings and their house, and became a nonprofit corporation with a two-story, 10-room brick home in northern Harford County.
The home is called Kedra's House in memory of the Coreys' first foster child, who died of AIDS in 1988, 15 days before her sixth birthday.
The Coreys receive no compensation, only room and board and a subsidy for each child from the Department of Social Services in Baltimore, which refers the infants to Kedra's House.
Blues singer Sherri Lynn Robbins and her band will perform a benefit concert for Kedra's House at 8 p.m. Saturday at Fallston High School.
"I met the Coreys and heard their story and wanted to do something for Kedra's House," Ms. Robbins said.
The Coreys have cared for 36 children since Kedra died. While their motor home sits idle in the back yard collecting dust, the four rocking chairs in Kedra's House seldom stop moving.
"Many a night I've spent in a rocking chair, holding and comforting a sick baby," Mrs. Corey said. And often Mr. Corey, 64, rocks along in another chair, cradling another sick infant.
The Coreys are licensed to be foster parents to six medically fragile infants, which includes children who are born weak or underweight.
The infants arrive at Kedra's House shortly after they are born. Most are born to women who use intravenous drugs and have AIDS. The babies are underweight, require special medical attention -- often intravenous feeding -- and a lot of tender loving care.
Most babies leave Kedra's House around age 2, healthy and ready for adoption. But when they arrive, the babies carry antibodies inherited from their mothers who have the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Eventually, about 70 percent of the infants will produce their own antibodies and rid themselves of their mother's disease, Mrs. Corey said.
Tickets for the benefit concert are available at Camelot Music i Harford Mall in Bel Air and Hunt Valley Mall, Baltimore County. Information: 893-9400 or 879-3087.