When Elmira Knutsen walks in the yard with her youngest daughter Vasilina, people sometimes notice that the cute, smiling girl doesn’t move her arms at all, but her legs are always moving. In the summer, Vasilina’s neighbors saw her sitting in the sandbox barefoot and sorting the sand with her toes.

Even when they know what’s going on, people at first don’t believe it because my mom looks so happy and content with her life. Vasilina was born without hands, after all. Vasilina was born in March 2015 in the Sverdlovsk area. When the biological mother saw that her daughter didn’t have a left hand and that instead of a right hand, she had a small process with two fingers, she made a choice that, unfortunately, many people think is normal or even right.

She left her daughter alone. Photos of the cute girl with gray eyes soon started showing up on forums for adoptive parents. People said that Vasilina’s parents were not alcoholics or outsiders. Instead, they were just regular people who were afraid. But the girl was still unlikely to find a new family. No one thought anyone would want to take a child who didn’t have arms.

Even more so now that almost no one can adopt from outside the country. But miracles do happen. The best proof of this is that Chris and Elmira Knutsen found out about Vasilina. Chris is from the United States, and Elmira is from Bashkiria. They already have a family member and an adopted son. The couple also decided that they wanted a girl. The court took a long time to decide whether Vasilina should live with the Knutsens or in a nursing home.

All because Chris is a citizen of the United States. But, luckily, the fact that the family lives in Moscow all the time made all the difference. Now, Vasilina has a loving mom, dad, and three older brothers. The girl slowly gets to her feet, but it’s hard for her to stay on her feet. Behind the walls of a house where people laugh and have fun, darkness still rules.

The oldest adopted child in the Knutsen family was also born with pathology, and Elmira admits that people often treat her children badly: “They look, cross themselves, and run away. Yes, usually…” The family goes to the US every two years to see Chris’s parents. If Vasilina ever gets tired of people looking at her funny, she might even want to move there for good.