Dinnertime with toddlers isn’t always a bundle of laughs. After all, teaching a youngster to use a spoon or a fork usually means that most of the yummy stuff ends up down their front. But young Russian girl Vasilina has no problems reaching her mouth. However, the toddler has turned into an internet star and got the world talking because of the curious way she does it.
Mind you, the internet has played an important role in young Vasilina’s life before. In fact, it’s partly responsible for the happy home in which she now finds herself. After all, Vasilina – who was born without arms – spent her first few months in a Russian orphanage. Then, her picture was shared online in the hope of finding her a new family.
That image was seen by Elmira Knutzen and her husband, Chris, who live in Moscow. They already had children – one of whom was also adopted – but they couldn’t resist Vasilina’s smiley face. Therefore, they applied to make her the latest addition to their loving family.
Of course, Vasilina’s disability was clear to see, and the couple knew some hardship would inevitably lie ahead. But it didn’t deter them from wanting to give this young girl a better start in life. However, this adoption was not completely straightforward.
In fact, it took the courts a long time to approve the Knutzens, partly because Chris is American. And even though Elmira is a Russian citizen, and they’d already been previously approved for the adoption of another child, they weren’t sure until the final furlong just how the decision would go. Luckily for them all, it went in their favor.
Still, Vasilina was not the first disabled child in the Knutzen clan. Yes, one of her new brothers was also born without hands, so the parents were equipped with some useful experience and knowledge when it came to raising Vasilina.
And, luckily for the little girl, Vasilina quickly settled into her new life at the family home in Moscow. Indeed, her three older brothers instantly adored her. It certainly must have been a nice feeling for someone who had already lived such a hard life.
Aidan in particular took special care of his disabled sister, giving her kisses and helping her to eat. In fact, their bond was so close that little Vasilina cried out for him when he left the room.
So what caused Vasilina’s disability? Well, nobody really knows. However, it could be a case of congenital amputation. This condition affects approximately one in every 2,000 newborns. Some may be born with just a finger missing, while others may be missing entire limbs. Regardless, there are three main reasons for its development.
Firstly, it can occur because of blood clots in the developing fetus. Secondly, fibrous bands from the sac that protects the embryo – the amnio – can tighten around developing limbs, cutting the blood supply. Thirdly, exposure to toxic substances during pregnancy can cause the condition.
In the latter instance, these so-called “teratogens” can be absorbed into the body from the environment. Indeed, this was the case in the Ukraine in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, with many children subsequently being born with missing or abnormal limbs.
Whatever the cause, though, Vasilina is a survivor. But this brave little girl is not only surviving with her disability, but she’s also positively thriving. And although big brother Aidan has helped her to eat in the past, Vasilina has now developed a new way to feed herself. Captured on video by her mom, her nimble technique will blow you away.
While many able-bodied toddlers would struggle to navigate food from a spoon into their mouths without making a mess, Vasilina has mastered a unique mess-free technique. Yes, working alone, the toddler manages to feed herself… using her feet.
And, fortunately for us, Elmira recorded Vasilina in action. As the home video shows, Vasilina deftly attempts to put what appears to be a piece of potato into her mouth using her toes to grip a fork. However, her first attempt is not successful, prompting a little giggle from mom.
After adjusting her cutlery with her other foot, the clever kid has another go. Sat up at the table, the flexible toddler leans forward this time, managing to pop the potato right into her mouth. It is proof that practice can indeed make perfect.
So on October 12, 2016, Elmira proudly took to Facebook to upload the video of Vasilina. And clearly the rest of the world shared her joyful sentiment, as the post quickly went viral. In fact, various news sites picked up the story too.
Amazingly, within the space of just a week, the 17-second clip had been replayed 70 million times on Facebook. Furthermore, more than 1.5 million people shared the video, and it attracted 85,000 overwhelmingly positive comments.
Clearly touched by her determination in the face of adversity, people from around the globe have deluged Elmira’s Facebook page with messages of praise. In fact, three words regularly crop up: “inspirational,” “strong” and “genius.”
One viewer wrote, “This is one reason why I stop complaining about life and am taking each day as it arrives.” Another said, “Brilliant! She will go a long way with such positive determination. Must be a very proud mom.”
There’s no doubt about that. After all, the Knutzens have evidently taken it all in their stride and drawn strength from their faith. After all, Knutzen told Russian religious website pravmir.ru, “God does not make mistakes.” She is clearly one very proud mom.