Look what happened to the child! A gift from heaven.

Maria Audete is one of Dora's two step-children. She was born on May 7, 1981, so she’s now 35 years old. But you’d never guess that if you saw her!

In fact, she still looks like a baby. You might wonder what fountain of youth Maria was dipped in — sadly it was an extreme case of hypothyroidism, which created a huge deficiency in the hormones her thyroid would normally secrete.

When she was nine months old this autoimmune disease completely shut down her physical, mental, and cognitive development. The real tragedy is that she could have been easily cured with proper treatment. But her family, which lives in a thatched cottage in rural Brazil, didn’t have access to the medical care or other basic necessities to take care of it.

Fortunately for “little Maria” though, she’s surrounded by a very loving family. Her mother died thirteen years ago but her father eventually married Dora. Maria still lives with them, as well as her sister, and receives all the attention she needs.

Dora feels sure that part of her purpose on Earth is to be a guide for this dear little person, picking up where Maria’s mother left off. She considers her a gift from heaven. It isn’t easy to find acceptance in the community though. They can’t keep Maria a secret — and they wouldn’t want to. In fact, they even had some good news by spreading the word.

The medical faculty at Brazil’s University of Ceara heard about Maria’s case and decided to help her. They want to provide her with the treatment she needs, which should at least allow her to begin walking and talking!

It’s a rare and fascinating case of a kind of real “Benjamin Button”, who still has the body and soul of a child. But her family accepts her as she is and they’re as good as they could be to their little Maria!