I Was an Orphan With Several Birth Defects. Today I’m a Paralympic Athlete

Feb. 2018
I was born in the Ukraine, on June 19, 1989, with severely deformed legs – my left leg was six inches shorter than my right and I was missing weight-bearing bones [in both]. I also had six webbed toes on each foot, five webbed fingers on each hand, no thumbs, one kidney, and no enamel in my teeth.
I was put up for adoption – I imagine because, [due to] all my birth defects, my birth family just didn’t have the resources to support me.
I bounced around between three orphanages growing up. Some nights I would go to sleep hungry, because food was limited. I spent most of my days praying I would be adopted, and that I’d have my very own mom, [but] other kids told me: “You’re never going to get a family. No one is going to want to adopt you.”

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