Gift of Love

Gift of Love

One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children, is our unconditional love. That goes for all parents; birth, foster, or adoptive. StandUpGirl is a champion for the gift of adoption and would like to ask you to join us in celebrating the support and resources we provide for young women in crisis, by joining our friends in their heartwarming story and joining our family by donating today. Every donation will go directly towards providing life affirming resources to women in a crisis pregnancy situation.

The Amazing Pro-Life Story Behind Toyota’s Super Bowl Ad and Paralympic Swimmer Jessica Long

The Amazing Pro-Life Story Behind Toyota’s Super Bowl Ad and Paralympic Swimmer Jessica Long

Author: KATIE YODER   FEB 11, 2021  |

After Toyota’s Super Bowl ad captured the touching life story of Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long, the media raced to report on the athlete. But many of them bypassed crucial details about the 28 year old – including her Christian faith and pro-life position.

Toyota, a partner of Team USA, highlighted the 13-time Paralympic gold medalist on Sunday. Her story is one worth telling: She was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a baby and lost both of her legs as a toddler only to become the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history. But there’s more to the story. She centers her life on God, she says, and advocates for adoption in place of abortion. That’s because, for her, “I would rather know that the baby would have a better life than I could give him or her instead of just terminating the baby.”

The minute-long ad doesn’t show all of that – but it struck a pro-life tone. The camera follows the champion athlete as she “swims” through her life story, beginning with her adoptive mother receiving a phone call informing her that little Jessica is available for adoption.

“We found a baby girl for your adoption,” a woman’s voice tells her mother, “but there’s some things you need to know.”

“She’s in Siberia, and she was born with a rare condition,” she continues. “Her legs will need to be amputated. I know this is difficult to hear. Her life, it won’t be easy.”

That didn’t deter Mrs. Long. “It might not be easy, but it’ll be amazing,” she responds. “I can’t wait to meet her.”

Steve and Beth Long – a Christian, homeschooling family in Baltimore, Maryland – adopted Jessica when she was just 13 months old. Her legs were amputated when she was 18 months old due to a condition called fibular hemimelia, which meant that she did not have fibulas, ankles, heels, and most of the other bones in her feet. In total, she has endured more than a dozen surgeries.

But that didn’t stop her from living life. God had a plan.

Instead of a phone call, her adoptive parents actually “went to a church meeting and they saw a picture of me,” she told I Am Second last year. “They were told that this little Russian girl has leg deformities and really needed to be adopted. And my mom just said, ‘We knew that you were the child that God wanted us to adopt.”

Jessica loves both of her mothers.

“I’ve definitely dealt with a lot of emotions and questions regarding my adoption, but I am so grateful she chose to give me life,” she wrote of her birth mom in an Instagram post in 2019. And “My mom who raised me is the most bubbly, fearless, incredible woman and I’m honored to be her daughter.”

In 2013, she traveled with one of her five siblings to meet her birth parents.

“I want them to know that I’m not angry with them,” Long said in an NBC film, shortly before a tear-filled reunion. “I think that was really brave, and I don’t know what I would have done if I was in her situation, at 16 and having this disabled baby that they knew that they couldn’t take care of. I want to tell her that when I see her that, if anything, I have so much love for her, my mom, because she gave me life.”

Jessica is pro-adoption and pro-life, according to a Celebrate Life Magazine (CLM) story published in 2014.

“If you truly can’t care for the child and can’t give the child the life he or she deserves, I would give the child up for adoption, because there is going to be a family out there who will love that baby—no matter what the diagnosis is,” Jessica said. “I know it can seem really discouraging, but in the end, I think that if you would abort the baby, you would definitely regret it. I think, for me, that I would rather know that the baby would have a better life than I could give him or her instead of just terminating the baby.”

Jessica also believes in the power of prayer and faith, telling CLM that “It gives me all of my strength.”

But her faith journey is just that: a journey.

“I can’t think of a single childhood memory that we weren’t always at church or with our church community,” she told I Am Second. “And what I heard a lot of is that, ‘God made me this way.’”

“I knew I didn’t want anything to do with this God that made me this way,” she added. Among other things, she struggled with anger and feelings of being unwanted.

Years later at a Bible study, that changed.

 “I just think, I just couldn’t do it alone anymore,” she said, before walking over to a woman who prayed with her.

“I just said, ‘I want to give God my whole heart for once,’” she remembered. “And as soon as I prayed, it was the first time in my entire life that I felt enough.”

She stressed that it’s a process.

“I am constantly reminded every day that I need to give it to God,” she urged. “Every day when I put on these two prosthetic legs that are heavy and they still hurt me. My legs still cause me pain. And I think it’s honestly this really cool, beautiful reminder that I can’t do it on my own.”

At the end of races, she pictures God swimming along with her.

“When practices get tough or races have been hard, I just call unto Him,” she concluded. “God, this is hard.”

And she hears Him respond: “Just keep trying, Jess. I’m here with you.”


I Never Met My Biological Mother

I Never Met My Biological Mother

Ryan Jon in an Australian Radio Host & Podcaster has a story to tell. On Mother’s day each year he puts out a message to find his biological mother. Watch this heartfelt story of love for adoption and the person who gave him life.
See more at

I Lived on Parker Avenue

I Lived on Parker Avenue

Video Credits: Joie De Vivre Media and executive producer, Benjamin Clapper, present “I Lived on Parker Ave.” as its first short documentary.

U.S. Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles

U.S. Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles

U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is stunning the world with the complexity of her routines and her signature sky-high moves. Some experts predict that the young Texas athlete could bring home as many as five gold medals from the Olympic games in Rio, Brazil.

But just as inspiring as her hard work and amazing talent is her life story.

The Independent Journal reports Biles was born in Ohio to drug-addicted parents, and her father quickly abandoned the family. The first few years of her life were a yo-yo between her mother’s house and foster homes, according to Texas Monthly. When Biles was six, her grandparents adopted her and her younger sister, and they moved to Texas, the report states.

Now, the 19-year-old gymnast calls her grandparents, Ron and Nellie, mom and dad. A perfectionist, Biles trains continuously and often is hard on herself when she makes a mistake, according to the report. On Sunday, the only day she doesn’t practice, she goes to church with her family, according to the report.

“She’s always been headstrong,” Nellie, a retired nurse, told the news outlet. “When she makes up her mind, it’s, like, oh my gosh—the whole world could be upset and she’d still do it. My other kids would listen. Her, no. She makes her mind up and that’s it.

When Biles expressed an eager interest in gymnastics, her parents enrolled her in classes. According to the report:

A year after enrolling, Biles was in the middle of a class when Aimee Boorman, a former competitive gymnast and one of the coaches at Bannon’s, walked by and took notice. Impressed by the tiny girl’s explosive power and “air sense”—a gymnast’s catlike ability to stay oriented while flying through the air—Boorman soon became Biles’s personal coach, a position she has held to this day.

Biles also struggles with stress and a drive for perfection. She has a counselor who helps her work through the issues, according to the report. Her parents said it took her days after she won the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship to realize that she won the title of best gymnast in the world. Those around her say her confidence has grown since then, and she has become more at ease in her performances.

The young athlete has attracted the public spotlight because of her amazing abilities, but her adoption and her struggles are even more inspiring because they demonstrate how every person can overcome adversity to achieve greatness.

Written by: MICAIAH BILGER   AUG 9, 2016

photo by: By Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

More posts on Simone Biles

Olympic champion turned the spotlight on someone else!


A Heart of Gold – Jessica Long

A Heart of Gold – Jessica Long

Jessica Tatiana Long was born in Siberia with fibular hemimelia, missing most of the bones in her lower legs and feet. Her parents, Natalia and Oleg, were scared, impoverished, unmarried teenagers. The doctors who delivered Jessica told her young parents that they would not be able to care for such a severely disabled child back home in their village. So Natalia and Oleg reluctantly decided to place their baby girl in a Russian orphanage, though they felt certain that no one would want to adopt a crippled child.

However, when Jessica was 13 months old, American couple Steve and Beth Long came to Jessica’s orphanage and adopted her and another little boy with a cleft palette. As soon as they brought her home to Baltimore, the Longs started seeking treatment for Jessica’s condition. When Jessica was just 18 months old, both of her legs were amputated below the knee, and she was fitted with her first prosthetic legs.

But Jessica and her family didn’t let a little thing like two amputated legs slow her down. She quickly learned to walk and enjoyed a happy, active childhood. “I am one of six children and my parents made sure we all remained active,” Jessica told the Siberian Times. “I have been involved in many sports including gymnastics, basketball, cheerleading, ice skating, biking, running, and rock climbing. However, I always loved swimming the most. I learned how to swim in my grandparents’ pool where my sisters and I would spend hours pretending we were mermaids.”

Apparently, Jessica’s version of a mermaid likes to swim really fast. Whenshe was just 12 years old, Jessica became the youngest competitor on the US team in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, where she won her first three gold medals. Jessica went on to win a total of twelve gold medals in three Paralympic games, and she is the current world-record holder in 13 Paralympic events. Her other awards include the 2006 U.S Olympic Committee’s Paralympian of the Year, and, at the age of 15, the 2007 AAU Sullivan Award, given to the nation’s top amateur athlete. She was the first Paralympian to receive this honor, beating out such high-profile athletes as speed skater Apolo Ohno and fellow swimmer Michael Phelps, and is still the only athlete with a disability to win the award in its 82-year history.

As her fame grew, Jessica became more curious about her humble beginnings. “I love Russia, and part of me will always be a Siberian girl,” she told Bob Schaller for USA Swimming. “Eventually, I would like to go back and see the orphanage I was adopted from. Want to hear something funny? Always when I was growing up, I thought I was a Russian Princess – Anastasia was my movie.”

Finally, after a flurry of international attention for winning five gold medals in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, a Russian reporter tracked down Jessica’s biological parents in the tiny village of Tem deep in the taiga. Natalia and Oleg were now married and had three more children – a daughter, Anastasia, and twins, Dasha and Igor. They knew that their daughter had been adopted by an American couple, but they were overwhelmed at the news that she was now a world champion Paralympic swimmer.

Within a day of arriving home in Baltimore after the London games, Jessica watched a video of her biological mother, father and sister on a Rossiya- 1 talk show. The video helped confirm something she had known intuitively since her childhood.

“I never once felt adopted in my family – never once,” she said. “I just knew that I had another family that looked like me. So, when I first saw the TV show and I first saw my biological mom, it was really cool. Because I just – I look like her.”

In December of 2013, Jessica journeyed to the village of Tem in the Irkutsk region of Siberia to meet her biological parents. She couldn’t speak more than a few phrases in Russian, but she told the Daily Mail that seeing where she came from was a life-changing experience. The 21-year-old posted a picture of her biological family on Twitter with the caption: “Meet my Russian family. I love them more than words can say. My heart is so full.”

Jessica continues to swim and excel and inspire millions all over the world. She recently brought home five gold medals from the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships, which wrapped up on Sunday, August 10, and she is currently training for the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio.

“I believe God has a plan for everyone,” Jessica writes on her website, “I believe God had a plan for me to be adopted from Russia, to come to the United States and become a Paralympic swimmer. Part of His plan is for me to inspire people, whether they have a disability or not.”

Photo by:  Agência Brasil Fotografias