Meet Bowen Toomey: the Unstoppable Boy Born Without Limbs

Abandoned shortly after his birth in small town Serbia, Bowen was adopted at 18 months by the Toomey family. Now in the first grade, he's at the top of his class

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Andrew Hetherington

For his first 18 months, Bowen lived in an orphanage in a tiny town in Serbia. Born with no arms or legs and abandoned as an infant, his first months were spent in a crib. He rarely interacted with anyone, from caregivers to other children. When Devon and Jeremy Toomey found his photo on an adoption website for special needs children, Devon recalls, "I just knew he was supposed to be our son."

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Andrew Hetherington

Soon after bringing him home, Devon and Jeremy brought in a physical therapist to work with Bowen. "He progressed very quickly," Devon tells PEOPLE. Now, Bowen is ultra-mobile. He even has a pair of prosthetic legs, but prefers not to use them.

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Andrew Hetherington

Upon his arrival to the Toomey home, the family discovered that it wasn't Bowen's missing limbs that was the issue – it was his speech, hindered by his lack of human contact during his time in Serbia. It didn't hold him back for long: Now in the first grade, Bowen is at the top of his class.

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Andrew Hetherington

"Scooting" – with help from his left upper arm, his only limb – is Bowen's primary form of transportation. But that's not all he's capable of: Bowen swims, paints, draws, feeds himself and even snow-skis (with the help of his prosthetic legs).

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Andrew Hetherington

Impressive and independent as he may be, Bowen doesn't get by with absolutely no help. Assisting when he eats is a universal cuff, which attaches to his left elbow.

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Andrew Hetherington

For the Toomey family, self-sufficiency has always been the goal when it comes to Bowen. "We don't want to baby him," Devon says. "We want him to learn independence."

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