Daughter encourages parents to adopt

 

By the age of 6, Danica Wet-more had only lived inside a Ukrainian or-phanage. In all that time, Thom and Tami Wetmore were the only ones who visited her.

"It's just, you felt it in your heart. We knew, as soon as I saw her. I knew, in my spirit, ‘Go get your daughter,'" Tami Wetmore said. "That's exactly what I felt."

Danica was born with Treacher-Collins syndrome, resulting in deafness and bones missing from her face. Because of her challenges, the Wetmores were told, when she got older she probably would be turned out of the orphanage to live on the streets.

Six years later, she's happy, loved and safe with her forever family.

"She's quirky. Extremely inquisitive. Very artistic," Thom Wetmore said. "(She) loves drawing, painting, expressing herself."

At this point, perhaps you're wondering what would inspire a family to open their hearts to a girl with serious medical concerns from the other side of the world.

The answer is their daughter, Juliana. She was born into the family six years before Danica showed up.

She, too, has Treacher-Collins syndrome. Along with deafness, she was born without 40 percent of the bones in her face.

"You forget that there's anything different about her after she's sitting there for five minutes," Thom Wetmore said.

Juliana has endured 45 surgeries for her face, but her body and her brain have always been perfectly healthy. And her spirit is always bright.

"Pure love. She loves everybody. She doesn't judge anybody. She doesn't see anybody as different," Thom Wetmore said. "She just takes everybody as the same."

"My favorite thing to do is watch movies, watch TV, play on the computer, play with my sisters," Juliana said, talking like a typical 12-year-old but using sign language.

"Whatever you first think of somebody when you see them on the outside, that's not what they are on the inside," Thom Wetmore said.

What is Juliana on the inside?

She's the girl whose strength inspired her parents to find room in their hearts for Danica - to understand the challenges ahead better than most.

"She had been in an orphanage for 6 1/2 years, and no one had visited her," Tami Wetmore said. "Nobody had ever inquired about her."

"We were the first and only ones," Thom Wetmore said.

And the Wetmores love didn't stop with Danica. After her, they still had more room in their hearts to adopt three siblings who desperately needed a home.

"It's just amazing how your daughter that you look at as just a normal, everyday child that looks a little bit different, has changed so many lives," Thom Wetmore said. "Because you realize it's OK to be who you are."

Nothing, it seems, comes easier to Juliana than that.

 

To learn more about the Wetmore family, join Gillian Sheridan for her Children are a Gift report, Tuesday night on CBS 19 News at 10. To inquire about an East Texas child waiting to be adopted, call 903-533-4242 or email gsheridan@cbs19.tv.

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