I was adopted 27 years ago. My mother received a call to inquire if she wanted another child. She didn’t even know that she still remained on the agency's list! She told them, "Let me speak to my husband."
Next thing she knew, they were in Walmart buying a car seat for a newborn baby. I was adopted at just 24 hours old. When my mother came to the hospital and saw me, she did not know that I was the intended baby. She said that she really liked this baby, and they told her she was in luck because this baby was the one up for adoption.
My name is Savanah Stuard and I am Kintsugi.
I was born with one arm. I don’t have my medical history and don’t know the reason why. Doctors thought it might be that the umbilical cord got stuck around my arm or maybe it was outside of the placenta and did not develop.
Active with One Arm
My parents raised me with one main message: there was nothing I couldn’t do. If I wanted to try Karate, and I did because my brother was learning Karate, I did it. I would just need to learn how.
My mom was a gymnastic coach, and so I did gymnastics until I was 13 years old. They made a prosthetic for gymnastics so I could tumble. It was a block arm.
I did softball, track, and volleyball. I was always involved in sports and athletics. I had a strong desire to be better than people with all of their limbs. It fueled me to try harder and harder. I was committed to figuring things out and I did. I noticed how easy things came for people with both limbs, but I did not resent them. I was just fueled by them. Small things are taken for granted by people with both limbs, like tying shoes, but I figured out. My father wanted me to try, and he was in awe of me when I did.
Limb Difference & School Life
I handled school well, mainly because I played sports. I had my teammates as friends. Dating was the bigger issue. I was bullied and called a three-legged dog, that was very hard to think about. I never thought of myself that way. Girls can be very mean, too. Guys wanted the perfect looking girl for the image it reflected on them. I was scared that I would not find love.
I met the man who became my boyfriend for eight long years. He was abusive mentally, physically, and emotionally. He told me that no one would want to date a girl that looked like me. So, I told myself that I would never find someone, and I stayed with him for far too long. Through the years, my confidence was shot. Looking back, this was exactly how he wanted me to feel. I stayed dependent on him.
At times, I tried to leave. When I did, he would sweeten me back to him. He would scare off the other guys that I wanted to pursue or that I just enjoyed talking to. I was accepted into a different college than him. I asked him to come to my volleyball to try out, but he didn’t. He never did come to see me in the places I shined.
My family came to support me. They were so proud to see me try hard to get onto the team. This was when I mustered up the courage to leave him. He proved again and again that he did not love me the way I needed. Being far away from him was my ticket out of that relationship.
Returning to Myself
It took a while to build up my self-esteem. I had to feel myself again, and I had to grow my confidence and strength. I had to remember what I was before I met him. Back when I was dating him, I was so angry, and I used to fight so much with my parents. After we broke up, my mother told me that I was back to the Savannah she knew.
Today, I am married, and I have no doubt that my husband was instrumental in helping me get where I am today. He loves me and accepts me just as I am.
I met my husband in college. He would see me at volleyball games, and later he told me he would come mainly to watch me. One day, he threw a ball at me. I said, “Excuse me!” and we started a friendship and proceeded to date.
Now, I am a respiratory therapist, and he works in offshore oil. I work a lot; he travels a lot, but together we are building a beautiful life together.
Time to Thrive
Life is full of situations where I need to adjust, not just physically. There are also emotional and mental adjustments. For instance, when I go for a job interview and they look at me wondering if I can perform. They ask if there is anything I cannot do. I answer no.
When I used to be a waitress, kids would point. They can be loud, and at times it made me very uncomfortable. They don’t have a filter. Adults apologize. I also get stares. If people ask, I answer and explain. Sometimes I don’t mind their questions but at times it is very uncomfortable.
I chose to not wear prosthetics on a regular basis. The one I had long ago was so heavy and uncomfortable. Now, there have been so many advances that I am not saying no for the future.
I have something that helps me when I am at the gym, to allow me to do some exercises that otherwise would be impossible.
Be Creative and Find a Way
I record videos to demonstrate for people how I figure things out like braiding my hair or doing gymnastics or even buttoning my pants. Tiny actions that people don’t notice are a challenge for someone with one arm, but there is no reason not to be creative and find a way.
I went to a camp to help other kids with disabilities, and I was inspired to make my Instagram page so that I could be a role model. I have a dream to work with girls and women, helping them with confidence development, and guiding them to have safe relationships, working on their self-esteem.
I receive messages from parents who are pregnant and find out their baby has a missing limb and some of the parents want to abort. They reach out to me to discuss how I live. I live such an amazing life. The fact that I don’t have a limb doesn’t affect my ability to live as a productive member of society. I don’t see myself as disabled. I am differently-abled. I don’t pick apart the word disability either, but I don’t view myself with that label.
I know I was born to help others. I know I have a job that is bigger than myself, and I can’t wait to find out exactly what is my function in this world. For sure, it will be to serve others.
My name is Savannah and I am Kintsugi.
To find out more about Savannah please check out her Instagram page
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