She gave up on finding a forever home — until she found her dads.

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:

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Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign. We don't do PSAs. We also need to update so to explain truth – the nonprofit behind the truth youth smoking prevention campaign – you could also say this in a funny way – best known for sharing the facts about smoking and vaping or pull from some old campaigns. Just layer in a description of truth and who the campaign is., is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

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via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

The fine folks at Forbes are currently falling all over themselves trying to clean up the mess they created by publishing their 2019 list of 100 Most Innovative Leaders.

The problem: The list included 99 men and one woman. For those not so good with the math, that means according to Forbes, only 1% of the country's most innovative leaders are female.

Have you ever watched a movie that's so abysmally bad that you wonder how it ever even got made? Where you think, "Hundreds and hundreds of people had to have been directly involved in the production of this film. Did any of them ever think to say, 'Hey, maybe we should just scrap this idea altogether?"

That's how it feels to see a list like this. So how did Forbes come up with these results?

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