Homecoming celebration held for Justina Pelletier

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Teen Welcomed Home After Custody Battle With Hospital

BY MIKE KRAFCIK

NEW HAVEN– It's been two months since the custody battle over Justina Pelletier came to an end.
The West Hartford teenager endured 16 months of forced separation from her friends and family, including parents Lou and Linda, and sisters Jennifer, Jessica and Julia.

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Homecoming celebration held for Justina Pelletier
WEST HARTFORD, CT - JUNE 18: Justina Pelletier is carried into her home by her father, Lou. Justina was removed from her parents' care 16 months ago after allegations of medical child abuse were raised against Lou and Linda Pelletier. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WEST HARTFORD, CT - JUNE 18: Justina Pelletier is lifted out of the car by her father, Lou. On left is her sister, Jennifer. Justina Pelletier returned home on June 18th after having been removed 16 months prior after allegations of medical child abuse against Linda and hisband, Lou. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WEST HARTFORD, CT - JUNE 18: Justina Pelletier's mother, Linda, center, sister Jennifer, right, and family spokesman Reverend Patrick Mahoney, left, speak to the media outside the JRI Susan Wayne Center for Excellence. Justina Pelletier returned home on June 18th after having been removed 16 months prior after allegations of medical child abuse against Linda and hisband, Lou. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
THOMPSON, CT - JUNE 18: Justina Pelletier waves to the media as she leaves the JRI Susan Wayne Center for Excellence with her mother, Linda. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WEST HARTFORD, CT - JUNE 18: Justina Pelletier, second from left, is reunited with her sisters and her beloved dog, Roxy. Left to right: Jessica, Justina, Julia, Jennifer. Justina was removed from her parents' care 16 months ago after allegations of medical child abuse were raised against Lou and Linda Pelletier. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WEST HARTFORD, CT - JUNE 18: Justina Pelletier, second from left, is reunited with her sisters and her beloved dog, Roxy. Left to right: Jessica, Justina, Julia, Jennifer. Justina was removed from her parents' care 16 months ago after allegations of medical child abuse were raised against Lou and Linda Pelletier. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - JULY 12: Lou and Linda Pelletier, with their daughter Jennifer, on a visit to another daughter, Justina, at Boston Childrens Hospital. A juvenile court judge had backed the states decision to take emergency custody of the ailing 14-year-old while allowing her parents visitation rights. After that, the girls stay at Childrens would stretch from days to weeks to months. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 5th May, 2014. The family of Justina Pelletier gathers outside the Massachusetts State House to speak out on the decision made by the courts to allow the teen to leave a residential treatment facility in Massachusetts and move to one closer to her family in Connecticut after which she will be returned to the custody of her family. © ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Live News
Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 5th May, 2014. The family of Justina Pelletier gathers outside the Massachusetts State House to speak out on the decision made by the courts to allow the teen to leave a residential treatment facility in Massachusetts and move to one closer to her family in Connecticut after which she will be returned to the custody of her family. The mother of Justina, Linda Pelletier speaks to the media as Justina's father, Lou, embraces his daughter, Justina's sister, Jessica who became emotional when hearing details into her sister's case. © ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Live News
Boston, Massachusetts, USA. 5th May, 2014. The family of Justina Pelletier gathers outside the Massachusetts State House to speak out on the decision made by the courts to allow the teen to leave a residential treatment facility in Massachusetts and move to one closer to her family in Connecticut after which she will be returned to the custody of her family. Justina's father Lou Pelletier speaks to the media as Justina's mother Linda looks on. © Nicolaus Czarnecki/ZUMAPRESS. © ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Live News
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A judge granted her parents full custody back in June. It all began with a disagreement over the teen's medical diagnosis.

On Sunday night, a sweet sixteen and welcome home party was held for Justina Pelletier at Anthony's Ocean View in New Haven.

Justina's celebration was called the" Sparkling Homecoming Party." The party's theme, "no one can ever dull Justina's sparkle,"

Like most other teenagers who look forward to a party in their honor, Justina had anxiously anticipated this glittery celebration.

"They've treated me so well. I feel like I'm a princess with a tiara," said Justina.

The Celebration brought more than 100 people to the event which included an auction and raffle prizes.

"It's more of a welcome home party. She's missed so many holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Easter and all the religious holidays," said Lou Pelletier, Justina's father.

Justina's family, friends and her supporters– some came from other parts to the country to see Justina.

Several others who couldn't be there left their own video messages and words of encouragement. A man in one of the tributes told Justina "the sparkle of your spirit and your heart will make everything else seem dull."

"She's so happy to have people here that have been fighting for, friends, family, people she's never met before," said Lou Pelletier.

Sunday marked the first time state senator Joe Markley met Justina in-person.

State Sen. Markley helped work with the Massachusetts DCF and the state of Connecticut to help Justina get back home.

Justina was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease by doctors at Tufts Medical Center years ago, a condition causing muscle pain and weakness.

When she was admitted to Boston Children's Hospital with the flu last year, doctors said she had somatoform disorder, a mental condition.

The custody battle began when her parents disagreed with a new medical diagnosis and were accused of medical child abuse.

"The situation was already happening when it came to my attention, so it's a pleasure to see her and to see her looking so good and looking so happy," said Sen. Markely.

Justina's parents say she has started physical therapy at home and will soon attend school in West Hartford.

"Right now getting her on a recovery trail, getting her through physical therapy and all those things going. It's going to be a long process," said Lou Pelletier.

The family hopes event's like Sunday's celebration will allow to build up more confidence after spending all that time in the hospital.

"It might take a long time, but I know I have a lot of people cheering me on," said Justina.

Justina and her family recently traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for "Justina's Law"– a bill aimed at protecting children from a similar fate as Justina.

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