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Jessica LongToyota / YouTube

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February 9, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Car maker Toyota’s Super Bowl ad featured the double amputee and Paralympic champion Jessica Long, highlighting the importance of adoption in modern society.

Toyota’s one-minute video ad, titled Upstream, focused entirely on Jessica Long, and left cars out of the picture completely in what Toyota described as “an uplifting message of hope and strength.”

Long was adopted from an orphanage in Russia when only 13 months old. Her adoptive parents lived in Baltimore, and the film details the call that Mrs. Beth Long received, informing her that they had found a girl to be adopted, but that her legs would need to be amputated.

“Her life — it won’t be easy,” the caller declared, to which Beth Long replied, “It may not be easy, but it’ll be amazing.”

Jessica Long was born with fibular hemimelia and consequently did not have fibulas, ankles, heels or most of the other bones in her feet. As a result, she had both of her legs amputated below the knees when she was 18 months old, and has since had more than 12 different surgeries.

Beth and Steve Long had two children already and wished to grow their family, but were unable to have any more biological children. They decided to adopt a child, meaning that Steve traveled to Siberia in March 1993 to adopt Jessica and another boy. Four years later, the couple was able to give birth to two more children.

As a 3-year-old, Jessica learned to swim in her grandparents’ pool after church on Sundays, and then joined a swimming team when she was 10 years old. Long debuted at the 2004 Athens Paralympics, where she took three gold medals, despite being the youngest member of the team at 12 years old.

Competing in the following three Paralympics in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, Long brought her medal tally up to 23 Paralympic medals, 13 of which were golds. She also has over 50 world championship medals, 35 of them gold, has broken a number of world records and received many awards.

When commenting on Toyota’s video, Long mentioned that it drew attention to the story hidden behind her public success. “Perseverance, grit and overcoming the odds contributed to my success and my hope is that people feel inspired and uplifted by this emotional spot.”

Long has also previously highlighted the importance of her Christian faith. Speaking to a movement of Christian athletes, Fight for the Fatherless, Long revealed that she had been raised in a “very strong Christian household,” and that she had taken time to come to terms with understanding her disability in light of her knowledge of God.

“I was always angry with God,” she said, “I couldn’t understand how a God could make me without my legs … Years later when I was out in [Colorado Springs] training, I felt God truly work in my heart. I was raised the right way, but I still had to come to Christ on my own.”

“Eventually I decided I wanted to give Jesus my whole heart. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. It doesn’t mean I don’t have tough days! I now just know who ultimately has my heart and I’m learning to trust God.”

Referring to the multiple surgeries which she had to endure growing up, and after which she had to re-learn how to walk each time, Long attributed her success to God: “I also had to learn how to walk each time, but looking back quitting was never an option. I got through every single challenging moment of my life because of my determination that God gave me.”

Toyota’s ad, and Long’s personal testimony, both serve to highlight the importance of adoption in the current society. The Adoption Network has released figures stating that one in every 25 U.S. families with children have adopted, and that 140,000 children are adopted every year.

In contrast, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data states that nearly 620,000 abortions were carried out in 2018. Meanwhile, Adoption Network mentioned that only 4% of women “with unwanted pregnancies place their children through adoption.”

Commenting on Toyota’s video, leading African pro-life advocate Obianuju Ekeocha wrote: “Our world wants to celebrate life, the same life that may not be easy but will always be beautiful. Let us be the world that promotes Adoption NOT abortion because every life is worthy to be given a chance.”

“Believe you are capable of incredible things and that God has a plan for every individual,” Long commented to Fight for the Fatherless. “I want you to embrace who God made you to be.”