RICHFIELD, Minn. – Sonia Boyer’s life in America began with an online adoption posting read by her future mother.

“They had an entire description about how musical she was and how loud she was and how assertive she was,” Jody Johnson says, “and at the very, very, end they said, ‘Oh, by the way, she doesn't have arms.’”

Nearly two decades later, Sonia is still burying the lede – impressing people with her artwork, before they’re even aware how she’s managed produce it.

Sonia Boyer uses her toes to shape a bowl 
Sonia Boyer uses her toes to shape a bowl 

“I see it as normal I guess, because I grew up using my feet like you guys use your hands,” says Sonia, now 18 years old. “You’re pretty familiar with your hands, I’m pretty familiar with my feet.”

The 2016 graduate of Richfield High School owns a grand prize ribbon for work she produced for the Richfield Teen Art Show. She also possesses an expanding portfolio of paintings, drawings and pottery, all created with her feet and toes.

This fall, Sonia plans to apply for admission to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design - the next step in her dream of an art career.

Sonia Boyer receives instruction from Richfield High School art teacher Jen Kotsmith Kraus
Sonia Boyer receives instruction from Richfield High School art teacher Jen Kotsmith Kraus

Jen Kotsmith Kraus, Sonia’s high school art teacher, believes Sonia will achieve her goals.

“She has such an awareness with her feet already that is hard to teach. She has a gift for what she's doing already,” says the teacher, who has continued to work with Sonia through the summer.

Sonia’s parents adopted her from an orphanage in India at the age of 15 months. Her birth parents abandoned her at the hospital shortly after she was born without her arms.

A young Sonia Boyer in a family photo
A young Sonia Boyer in a family photo

Despite their Sonia's obstacles, her adoptive parents have encouraged her to dream big.

“We just said, ‘Everybody you know has some kind of an issue whether you know about it or not, and the thing is you have to figure out how to work around it,’” her mother says.

The lessons rubbed off. When asked if she ever feels sorry for herself, Sonia answers without hesitation, “I don’t see the point in wasting time.”