Cheryl and Keith Wyse and family
09/04/2013 at 06:00 PM EDT
Cheryl Wyse already had two great teenage sons, but the yearning for a girl never left her. So, in the mid-1990s, she and husband Keith looked into adopting from China.
They never imagined their quest for a daughter would lead them to a new life as parents of four girls whose bones are so weak a mere cough or sneeze can break a rib.
"When I met them," says Cheryl, 53, of her two oldest, "they looked so fragile. They captured my heart. I just wanted to mother them."
But make no mistake. While the Wyse girls of Archbold, Ohio, have Osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, they share an indestructible spirit.
From Rachelle, 15, who has endured more than 75 bone breaks while maintaining a straight-A average (along with twin Rebekah), to 7-year-old Lydia and 4-year-old Esther, both abandoned as babies, the four overcome daunting obstacles in the most matter-of-fact manner.