She spent six years in an orphanage with no visitors. But it turns out she just needed one.
Juliana Wetmore has become known across the U.S. as the “girl without a face.” She was born with a genetic disorder named Treacher Collins syndrome that causes deformations of the face. But, Juliana had the worst case that has been documented up until now.
Four months before Juliana was born, the doctors discovered irregularities and couldn't say with certainty what was wrong. But nothing could have prepared the doctors or the parents for the sight that Juliana's presented after her birth.
The newborn's little face hardly resembled a normal one. Yet, the little girl’s body was completely healthy; only her face was missing bones, producing deformations and making it difficult for her to breath. The doctors didn't believe she would survive the night. But Juliana was a fighter, right from the onset.
Tami and Thom Wetmore were not able to hold their little daughter until five days after her birth. The parents were completely indifferent to their daughter’s appearance. They enjoyed their intimate moment with their daughter to the fullest, immediately developing deep feelings for the little girl, despite the deformations. The doctors soon determined that Juliana was missing important bones necessary for hearing and was therefore almost deaf. But nevertheless, she could see well out of her right eye and most importantly: her brain functioned completely normally.
Six years later, after countless operations, Juliana hadn’t lost any of her fighter’s spirit. She mastered sign language and attended a school for deaf children. The intelligent child excelled at school. But no matter how lovingly her family cared for her, neither her parents nor her sisters were able to fully understand or comprehend how she really felt. But that was about to change…
Far from the Wetmore family lived a girl named Danica, a little girl who was the same age as Juliana and who suffered from the same disorder. Danica had a milder version of the syndrome, but her life wasn’t any easier, as she had a different hurdle to overcome: Danica didn't have a family to support her, to love her, or to protect her. She was given up for adoption after her birth and had been living in an orphanage in Ukraine ever since. The girl never received visitors. And sadly as soon as she was old enough, the orphanage would no longer be able to care for her, damning her to a life on the streets.
But before things got that far, the Wetmores came into Danica’s life! The family read about the little girl online, who so desperately needed adoptive parents. They traveled to the Ukraine to visit her. After this first and only visit, the two parents looked at each other and knew immediately what the other was thinking. “Let’s do it. Let’s get our daughter and fly home.” And just as easily as that, the Wetmores adopted Danica.
The now 12-year-old Juliana, who has already been through an astounding 45 operations, was able to grow up with a sister that truly understood her. The family adopted a further three children, who, together with Juliana’s older sister, form a gang of six beautiful children. Juliana and Danica were able to grow up sheltered and protected in this loving environment. Juliana amazed everyone with her exceptional intelligence and Danica was a truly remarkable and talented artist.
This family received many hard and difficult burdens to carry from life, but has borne them with astounding bravura. Such a family can only be admired for its humanity, courage, and strength and most importantly, for all it has done for these children. Share this story with everyone you know — good news like this deserves to be spread!