Kind-hearted nurse Linda Trepanier is a grandmother-of-three and mother-of-six. Having raised kids most of her adult life, the 58-year-old should be taking it easy.
But after falling in love with baby twins with a rare genetic deformity, she has devoted her life to raising them.
Matthew and Marshall Trepanier, three, have misshapen, oversized heads due to Pfeiffer Syndrome. This occurs when skull bones fuse prematurely in the womb.
Linda Trepanier from Lakeville, Minnesota, took them in as a foster carer when they were just four weeks old.
Little Matthew and Marshall parents were deemed unfit to take care of them.
Linda, who is a full-time medical foster carer, was then asked by Child Protective Services if she would consider adopting one of the boys for good.
But Linda could not bare to separate the twins – so she adopted them both.
‘When I first saw the twins I thought they were the most adorable little things I had ever seen,’ she recalled.
‘They had these big heads and tiny bodies. They weighed 8lbs but their bodies were the size of newborns, so most of the weight was because of their heads.
‘I just fell in love with them. I knew in my heart that they were my boys.’
The twins inherited the condition from their father. Their genetic disorder means they require round-the-clock care and have regular medical appointments.
Nurse Linda Trepamier has dedicated the last two years to looking after her sons.
They have both had three operations to reshape the bone that fused together before they were born.
Matthew and Marshall need breathing tubes to survive and use wheelchairs to get around. The twins also wear glasses because their eyesight is poor.
Linda needs to take their temperature every few hours to check for infections.
She also tucks them into bed tightly every night to prevent them from yanking out their breathing tubes.
Linda’s family and friends think she is insane to to take on such huge responsibility at her age. But she the selfless mom couldn’t care less.
‘People struggle to understand. They say, “Oh, those kids are going to tie you down,” but I have learned to live with it.’
‘I just feel privileged that I have been able to make a real, positive difference to Matthew and Marshall’s lives,’ said Linda.
Linda gave up her career working as a regular nurse to look after poorly children in her own home back in 1986.
She has fostered more than 16 children.
‘When I was a little girl I always thought I wanted to be a nurse and take care of babies and kids.’
‘It has always been my passion and once I started doing the foster care and teaching other nurses how to provide care I just felt like it was something I was born to do,’ said Linda.
Linda has three older biological children – Gregory, 27, Patrick, 25 and Marlys, 24 – and three other adoptive children – Ethan, five, Audrey, nine and Shay, ten. Her and her partner Mike Fink, 58, also have three grandchildren.
But with her loving care, Linda is determined to give Marshall and Matthew a shot at living independent lives.