A miracle mum adopted twin baby boys with a rare genetic deformity after they were taken away from their parents.
Matthew and Marshall Trepanier, three, have misshapen, oversized heads due to Pfeiffer Syndrome, which caused their skull bones to fuse prematurely in the womb.
Kindhearted nurse Linda Trepanier, 58, took them in as a foster carer when they were four-weeks-old after their parents were deemed unable to look after them.
Social services staff later approached Linda – a full-time medical foster carer – to ask if she would consider adopting one of the boys for good.
But she fell in love with them and said she could never separate the adorable pair-so adopted them both.
Devoted Linda, of Minnesota, US, said: “When I first saw the twins I thought they were the most adorable little things I had ever seen.
“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.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t looked after them. They would have tried to find them another foster home for them, but who knows?
“Their condition means it would be hard for a normal parent to take look after them. I don’t know many moms who could do what I do, but my career as a nurse prepared me well.
‘My family and friends think I’m crazy because I’m a 58 year old and I should be looking forward to retirement, but I couldn’t care less about that.
“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.”
It occurs when the parts of the skull fuse together too early, meaning the bone can’t expand as the brain grows.
Matthew and Marshall were diagnosed with Pfeiffer type two, which is characterised by severe hand and foot deformities, fibrous joints, high foreheads, displaced ears and protruding eyes.
The condition means they require round-the-clock care and have regular medical appointments.
Over the last two years they have both had three operations to reshape the bone that has fused together before they were born to allow space for their brains to grow.
They need breathing tubes to survive, use wheelchairs to get around because the condition affects their mobility and wear glasses because their eyesight is poor.
Linda needs to take their temperature every few hours to check for infections and she tucks them into bed tightly at night because if their hands are free they could yank out their breathing tubes.
The tubes also mean they have a direct airway to their lungs so a simple cold or flu virus could kill them, and whenever she takes them outdoors she brings an oxygen tank in case of emergencies.
But Linda says that with the right care – which she is determined to give them – they have a shot at living independent lives.
The mum, who has three older biological children, has been with them every step of the way since she began fostering them in 2014 and their adoption was finalised last month.
It comes after 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 16 children since.
She is supported by registered nurses who help her look after Matthew and Marshall and her three other adoptive children.
Linda said: “When I was a little girl I always thought I wanted to be a nurse and take care of babies and kids,” she said.
“It has always been may 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.
“They are a lot of hard work but they are also a lot of fun – they are the happiest and smiliest.
“Almost always if one twin laughs the other twin will automatically laugh as well.
“Everybody just falls in love with them.”