McFadden was born in 1988 in St. Petersburg Russia, paralyzed below the waist with spina bifida. She was also born with a steel will and inner strength. Unwanted and disabled, she was sent to an orphanage where she remained for six years, without access to a wheelchair. Tatyana got around by walking on her hands, using them as feet.
When Debbie McFadden, the commissioner of disabilities for the U.S. Health Department, visited Tatyana’s orphanage in 1994, she connected with her so strongly she decided to adopt her immediately.
Once home in the United States, Debbie McFadden enrolled her daughter in various youth sports groups. Tatyana excelled in a short time, but it was her wheelchair racing career that really took off. Tatyana was only 15 when she became the youngest member of the USA Track and Field team at the Athens Paralympic Games, where she won two silver medals. She has since gone on to become a World Champion, National and World Record Holder, and winner of the Chicago marathon.
Oksana Masters, born in Ukraine in 1989 with physical disabilities likely caused by radiation poisoning, was abandoned by her birth parents at a Ukrainian orphanage. She lived in orphanages under extremely abusive conditions until age seven. Oksana was adopted by Gay Masters, a single woman who was interested in adopting. “That’s my child,” she said when she saw Oksana’s picture.
That was when Ukraine closed foreign adoptions, like Russia recently did, and after two and a half years of waiting, the adoption went through.Oksana moved to the United States in 1997. Eventually both of Oksana’s legs were amputated above the knee.
Oksana started rowing at 13, and after almost 10 years, teamed with Rob Jones, a United States Marine Corps veteran at the 2012 London Paralympics, in the mixed-doubles sculls rowing. Oksana and Rob finished third, winning a bronze medal.
Masters began cross-country skiing just over a year ago, but quickly rose to national prominence. Now 24, she qualified as a member of the USA Nordic skiing team that will compete in the Winter Paralympics March 8-16 in Sochi, Russia. Masters will compete in both cross-country skiing and biathlon, which combines cross country with shooting at targets between laps of skiing.
What would have happened to these two amazing young women had they not been adopted by parents committed to helping them reach their potential? ”It’s just too scary to think about,” said Konnie Gregg, LSS director of international adoption. ” The world would be a better place if we had 1/10 of their courage!”
Oksana Masters summed it up this way: “I couldn’t imagine my life now without my mom. She truly is my hero and has saved my life. She has always bent over backwards to make me happy and make my dreams come true. I wouldn’t be able to compete without her amazing love and support.”
Learn more about international adoption on our website, or contact Konnie Gregg by email at [email protected] or call either 512-454-4611 or 800-396-4611.