With tears collecting in her eyes, Lupe Ortiz-Tovar explained why she always felt different from the other kids.

Lupe went into foster care when she was 5 years old and lived in more than 18 homes across multiple states throughout her childhood. She learned not to get her hopes up thinking the next family would be her last.

"I think you remember the honeymoon phase of going into a family, but it’s never yours," she explained in a video by the Human Rights Campaign. "It’s really like you’re a visitor in someone else’s home and you don’t know how long that's going to last."

GIF via Human Rights Campaign.


Lupe's experience being shuffled around the foster care system is one that's shared by far too many children. A point-in-time survey found more than 420,000 kids were in foster care in the U.S. in September 2015 — up from 2011, when it stood at just over 397,000.

While there are various reasons why kids are placed into care and many children are in the system only temporarily, thousands share Lupe's story. She transferred from home to home until she aged out of the system.

Finding a real home to call her own just wasn't meant to be.

GIF via Human Rights Campaign.

Or so she thought.

In 2005, two terrific guys came into Lupe's life.

"Little did I know that I would meet Clay and Bryan," Lupe said. "And my dads would find me."

GIF via Human Rights Campaign.

Lupe met Clay and Bryan, a same-gender couple, while completing a summer internship with Foster Club, a nonprofit aimed at helping kids in foster care.

In the decade after that, Clay and Bryan became close mentors to Lupe, she says over email. And finally, in 2015 — after Clay and Bryan's marriage could be legally recognized — the couple adopted Lupe in Oklahoma when she was in her early 30s.

"There is no such thing as too late to find your forever families," Lupe said. "There are no term limits on the love that families can provide each other!"

"We all added something to each other's lives," Lupe said in the video by HRC. "It was like a puzzle that was just waiting — we were all waiting for each other."

GIF via Human Rights Campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign is using Lupe's story to illustrate how crucial it is to allow LGBTQ couples to have the ability to adopt.

"Kids shouldn't have to wait to find their forever families because of discrimination," HRC states in the video.

And discrimination is very much on the table as Oklahoma Senate Bill 1140 hangs in the balance. The bill would allow certain faith-based child welfare agencies to deny adoption opportunities to kids in need based on the potential guardians' sexual orientations or gender identities.

HRC, which is strongly against the legislation, is urging Oklahomans to text "FAMILY" to 30644 or call 405-521-2711 to connect with a state House representative to demand the bill be defeated.

It's not just about ensuring equality for queer couples, the organization argues. Having the option also allows many children in need — like Lupe had been — to find loving parents.

"I've never had or thought about what a great father is — I've never had that picture in my life," Lupe says in the video below. "And so [Clay and Bryan] have really completed many empty pictures and have given me lots to dream about and hope for in my own life."

Watch Lupe's story by the Human Rights Campaign, an Upworthy Handpicked video:

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

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