TATYANA ZHYGANOVA

Stavropol’s Tatyana Zhyganova raised 80 children, including six of her own and numerous foster kids. She received the 2nd degree Order “For Merit to the Fatherland”.

In June 1995, her new-born daughter and she were taken hostages by Basayev’s militants during the Budyonnovsk Terror Attack. Having lived through that horror, she came home with her new-born daughter and three children who lost their families in the attack. After a while, she managed to find the father of her foster son, found a family that adopted another one, and her six-year-old foster daughter started living with Tatyana’s mother and her family. Since then, she started taking in kids who had no home, including physically or mentally challenged children. Tatyana has enough love and care for all of them.

Her husband has always helped her raise their kids as well as foster ones. But at some point, he was no longer with her and she had to go through a tough period. She had 16 children to take care of. The former teacher and musician had to take a pitchfork and a hoe and start a large farm with her kids. Her friends and neighbours and foster care authorities did all they could to help.

Now many of Tatyana’s children have families of their own. They are all thankful to their foster mother for her love, care and a chance for happy childhood. When asked how many kids she has, Tatyana never responds with a number because family is not about statistics, it is about lives that are woven together.

Our children went through the “school of life” in the streets, but God loves them. He gave them a new home, food to nourish their bodies and souls, fathered them while I mothered them.

Almost 40 kids have went through my foster care over these years. Some of them were adopted, some eventually joined their relatives, some simply grew up. All of them have different paths in life. All of them saw victories and defeats in their labour. What matters the most is that these children learnt about God in my house. I can only sow the seed…It is the Lord who harvests.

I have six kids of my own. There are also kids whose parents have been deprived of parental rights: Luda, Masha and Egor Vishnyakov, Andrey Minaev, Vadik Butko, Oksana Sizova, Zina Yakovleva.

Dasha’s mother died in 2004 from alcoholism. We pray that God saves their mothers, helps them change. We also have Olya, Inna, Ksyusha, Grisha, another Grisha. But other children, who go through tough times, come to visit us. We go to church every Sunday. We like singing psalms. God helps us a lot. Egor used to steal, but God transformed him and he is now a very good and kind boy. No one here smokes or says bad words. At first, it can be hard to change but we pray for every single child. Now we all live in tranquility and joy.