‘Children shout ‘invalid’ to my son – I won't tolerate this’: Instamother raises disabled issues

Rustam is so cheerful that you won’t believe he has multiple birth defects. His adoptive mother is on a mission to prove that such children should not be ostracized.
Nika and her son Rustam

Nika Zlobina has 83,500 Instagram followers, but these are meaningless numbers for her. Nika is not a social media fanatic; she found Instagram by accident.

“I was preparing paperwork for an adoption and there was a database with photos of children, and I happened to see images of Rustam,” Nika recalls in a conversation with Russia Beyond.

Once volunteers posted in social media a video with Rustam dancing, they wanted to encourage people to adopt him. The video went viral and Nika saw it reposted several times on different sites, but what made her mad was the reaction of some people.

“Some said this ‘freak’ won't ever be adopted. I was terrified how many people wrote negative comments, and among them were young mothers with kids,” Nika says. Then she thought that if not her, then who? And so she adopted Rustam.

Disabled doesn't mean freak

Nika decided to create an Instagram account to show her life with Rustam, and it became a diary of sorts where she shared her thoughts and descriptions of everyday activities. Her goal was to show that Rustam is developing and progressing, and that he’s neither an idiot nor a freak, as his detractors were claiming.

Before and after: A year in family

Nika primarily wants to reach people who are interested in adoption in order to show that they shouldn't be afraid to adopt kids with disabilities.

“Everyone mostly wants blond beautiful babies to adopt, and there’s a long line for such kids; meanwhile, others suffer without parents,” Nika complains.

Support for disabled parents

“If my account should suddenly be blocked then I’ll probably feel better because I won't see dozens of haters commenting about my son,” she says.

Rustam teaches father how to smile

However getting messages from other parents with children who are mentally or physically challenged is what Nika appreciates most in her blogging.

“One woman wrote that she was afraid to go out with her daughter who has Down's Syndrome, adding that my posts give her courage; and now she does not hesitate to go for walks with her daughter,” says Nika, adding that such feedback makes her happy, and proves that she is doing the right thing.

Rustam has taken part in a fashion show

One lady even messaged to say that she was initially embarrassed to follow Nika on Instagram, but after a while the lady started sharing Nika's posts with friends, helping to attract public attention to the issue.

Reaction on the streets

Nika says she doesn't pay attention to people staring at Rustam on the streets, unless they say something negative. Once Nika was walking with him and children saw them from the fence around a local kindergarten.

“They started to shout at him, ‘You invalid,’ which is something that I won't tolerate. I was absolutely shocked.”

Rustam is five now, and though his intellect is fine he still has some speech defects. Children often ask what's wrong with his leg or face, but for now he can't explain properly.

When he grows up Nika plans to consult psychologists to help Rustam's behavioral development and to learn how to deal with negative reactions.

New hairstyle

“My personal opinion is you need to fight your detractors. I don't want to make mistakes; we need a professional here,” Nika says.

Read more: A man who survived: Russia’s most uplifting Instagram that will inspire you to carry on

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