In 2003, Thom and Tami Wetmore were expecting a perfectly normal newborn daughter, but they had doubts, as doctors told them over the last few months of Tami’s pregnancy that something “didn’t seem right.”
As soon as Tami gave birth, the couple’s doubts were confirmed.
Juliana Wetmore, was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a 1 in 50,000 chance condition in which the face lacks vital bone structures. Juliana’s case was recorded as the most severe in medical history and has had nearly 45 surgeries to reconstruct her face over her last 12 years of life.
As word got out and images of Juliana’s condition surfaced the Internet, the family faced challenges as some people were not very supportive.
However, what initially seemed impossible and hopeless to the Wetmore’s eventually gave them hope: hope that not only changed their lives, but also the life of Danica Wetmore.
Danica is Juliana’s ‘sister’ from the other side of the globe. She was born in Ukraine, and was also diagnosed with Treacher Collins Syndrome. Danica had never lived anywhere else besides an orphanage until the age of 6. The Wetmore’s were told that as she grew, the chances would increase that Danica would be turned out of the orphanage and forced to live on the streets.
It wasn’t until the couple had visited Danica in person that Tami had felt in her spirit to, “Go after your daughter,” and went on to adopt her.
Thus, Danica and Juliana became sisters, both learning to read and speak in sign language to each other, and share life as siblings.
In an interview, Thom and Tami are asked if it were because of Juliana that Danica had been saved from the orphanage. They share that “nobody had ever inquired about her… we were the first and only ones” to ask about Danica, and this goes to show that it was truly an act of love and compassion that inspired them to bring her into their family.
Tami shares about Juliana, saying that she only has “pure love,” in her heart, and that she “loves everybody, does not judge anybody, doesn’t see anybody as different, and just takes everybody as the same.”
Perhaps it was because of this love that gave Thom and Tami the room in their hearts to adopt four more children aside Danica and Juliana, and they now have a beautiful family that lives on the hope that “it’s okay to be who you are.”
Though the two girls were brought together for something that only seemed to limit them, they now have the proof of sisterhood to show the world that genuine love runs thicker than blood.
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