Every expecting parent wishes that their baby will turn out to be perfectly healthy and “normal.” Yet, as we all know, things don’t always work out that way—and some parents can’t handle it.

That’s what happened when baby Vasilina was born without a left hand and only two fingers on her right hand. Her mother didn’t want to keep her—or even look at her—when she noticed these deformities… yet Vasilina’s story was far from over.

Vasilina Knutsen was born in Swerdlowsk, Russia in March 2015. Upon seeing that she only had two fingers on her right arm and was missing her left arm completely, Vasilina’s parents decided to put her up for adoption. She was eventually adopted by a loving family… but her struggle was far from over.

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Elmira and Chris Knutsen are both from Moscow. Elmira is a native Russian, but since Chris was born in the United States, the adoption process was complicated.

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That’s because in December 2012, a law was passed in Russia that made it illegal for Americans to adopt Russian children. The ban was even extended to all countries that allow same-sex marriage.

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The Knutsens had to jump through a lot of hoops to ensure that they’d be able to adopt Vasilina. Eventually, they made it through the excruciating process, and Chris and Elmira couldn’t wait to bring their new baby girl home.

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It’s difficult for children—let alone those with disabilities—to be adopted in Russia. Right now, there are about 100,000 Russian children in the system awaiting adoption. Those with disabilities are the most likely to spend their entire lives in different institutions.

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Elmira and Chris already have three boys, one of whom has a mental illness. Between his and Vasilina’s disabilities, the family often gets mistreated when out in public. “[People] actually stare, make the sign of the cross and run away… it happens quite often,” Elmira said.

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Luckily, the Knutsen family is learning to live with these ignorant reactions. They’re just happy to have such a wonderful family! As you can see, little Vasilina already has a ton of talent.

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It’s so wonderful that Vasilina was adopted by such a special family. Surely she’ll grow up to realize how lucky she really is!

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