Born in Russia, McFadden was born with spina bifida, a disorder that paralyzed her from waist down. She was raised in an orphanage without access to a wheelchair until she was adopted, at the age of six, by Deborah McFadden who was visiting Russia on a business trip. Tatyana grew up in the United States, where she tried several sports to get stronger – swimming and basketball included. At age 15, she completed in the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games and won two medals. Continuing her winning streak, she took home four medals from the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games and three gold medals from the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Also in the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympic Games she won a medal in cross country.