Born in 1996 in Russia, Nik Hoot’s biological mother had him during a late-term abortion at 24 weeks. By all rights, Nik shouldn’t have survived at all, but even as a premature baby, he was determined to make it. The “failed” procedure, which resulted in his birth, took a terrible toll, though, depriving him of his legs and parts of his fingers.
That awful beginning has never stopped him from making the most of the life he has been given. Growing up in Woodburn, Indiana, in a big family that includes many other adopted children with birth defects, Hoot went on to become a star athlete at his high school, competing in baseball, basketball, football, and wrestling with the disadvantage of prosthetics.
For Nik, his story is proof that all children deserve a chance. “Anybody can become anything,” he told WANE. “Getting rid of a kid like that isn’t right to me. I just look at myself as a miracle.”
His first set of legs……the pic on he left is his prosthetist who is still fitting his legs. The lady was the pt and…
When Nik’s adoptive parents, Apryl and Marvin Hoot, were looking to adopt in 1997, they focused on children from Russia. After Apryl and Marvin watched and re-watched a video with information about the different children who were up for adoption, Nik stood out to them. As adoptive mom Apryl told Canyon News, “Nik was the last child to pop up on the video. Bright eyes and a smile that was killer, but he was just short of a year old and he had no legs.”
They were aware of Nik’s disability, and Apryl, who was 46 years old at the time, was worried about being able to take on a child with such challenges. “Nobody’s going to think less of me for not adopting a baby at my age,” she remembers telling herself. “Especially one with no legs.” But after a homily from their local priest about the value of all life, she and her husband, Marvin, felt this baby deserved a good home and that they were called to provide it.
For the Hoots, who had raised their own biological children and adopted others, learning about prosthetics was new territory. But they soon found out that Nik was more than up to the challenge. Apryl told WANE, “I was scared for two weeks to put his legs on him. After that, it was like ‘oh, ok, his legs go on like you dress your other kids.’” They weren’t sure how well Nik would be able to balance, but from the very beginning he was intent on moving around. “They sent home this tiny walker […] he threw his walker away about two days after he got it, used furniture, and in two weeks time he was running.”
As Nik grew up, his interests clearly went toward the one area no would expect him to be interested in: sports. While Apryl was concerned about his ability to compete with other kids who didn’t have disabilities, when she finally agreed to let him try out for the baseball team, he showed his mettle. “For two years, I didn’t want him to play baseball,” she told WANE. “I was afraid, he can’t run the bases fast enough like the other kids. They’ll make fun of him. I was wrong.”
During a championship game for his school team, Nik stole home base, tying the game. They would go on to win, and Nik got a standing ovation “from both sides,” Apryl Hoot said. His adoptive father, Marvin Hoot, remembers the determination it took for Nik to pull that off. “It was amazing, seeing him run into home [base],” he said to WANE. “The look on his face, trying to go as hard as he can to get to the plate.”
As for Nik himself, he claims to have never felt that different than any of his teammates or competitors, with the possible exception of running. “I always find ways around it,” he explains. Wrestling, where Nik can use the natural strength of his body without having to run, proved to be his passion.
For him, the struggle involved in a wrestling match mirrors the obstacles that he has faced in the real world. “It’s so disciplined. There’s so much you don’t want to do like all the hard work and conditioning,” he explained to WANE. “That’s just part of life. You’re going to hit a lot of barriers in life, but you really have to get over them.”
Nik got particular satisfaction out of winning at school competitions as it was a chance for him to show what people with disabilities can do. “Knowing that everyone has all their eyes on me” made triumphing in competitions even more special, he said. “They’re not used to seeing someone like me wrestle that often. I know I have to go out there and be the best.”
For his mom, seeing the courage and strength it took to compete already made him the victor in her book. “Whether he wins […] is beside the point. He’s still a winner no matter what.” Now that Nik has graduated high school, turned 23 years old on Sept. 19, 2019, and is holding down a full-time landscaping job, his mom continues to tell his story to show that every child deserves a chance.
Nik’s younger brother, Mitchell, who was adopted from Hong Kong and was born with multiple birth defects, followed in his big brother’s footsteps by going into wrestling. For Apryl Hoot, “Both have risen above what most people ever expected. Despite birth defects and disabilities as the world views, they are whole human beings worthy of being all that they can be.”