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From Grapevines to Guardianship: An Aussie’s Path to Helping Kids in Need

The story behind how this founder's Australian childhood inspired her to become a foster mom

Monday, January 23 ‍
by Tony Miller

A woman smiling and holding a teddy bear with glasses.

Pictured: For the Cubs Founder, Amy Vale, with Percy the weighted plushie.

FEATURE STORY

A childhood in the Outback that inspired a major life choice

Amy Vale’s journey from the rugged Australian outback to the bustling city of Austin, TX, is a heartwarming tale of friendship, loss, and an unwavering commitment to children in need.

Growing up amidst the red dirt and grape vines of Australia, Amy was surrounded by adventurous backpackers every summer who came to work on her parents property. One such visitor, Jake, worked the harvest for a summer in the 1980s, leaving an indelible mark on young Amy’s heart.

“My parents made a lot of friends, but Jake was someone we kept in touch with as he ventured around the world. I had no idea how his life choices would impact mine so profoundly,” Amy shared, her voice tinged with nostalgia.

Jake’s journey eventually led him to Tanzania, where he adopted a baby boy he had cared for during his time in the country.

“I remember mum sending baby clothes to Jake as a small token of support. In return, we would receive letters and pictures of this beautiful little boy. Adoption starts with loss, but the change in this child's life trajectory was not lost on me. It was not about the “things” he now had, and more about the basics he needed like safety, stability, and a nurturing environment to thrive in.” she said, her eyes welling up with emotion.

Newborn baby sleeping peacefully.

Pictured: Illustrative photo of adopted baby boy.

Names and identifying details changed out of respect for people involved.

From Australia to Austin, TX via New York City

Fast forward to 2021: Amy had spent over a decade in the United States, working with top brands like Spotify and charity:water in New York. She moved to Austin, TX, with her husband Adam, a professional musician and their two dogs.

The couple, focused on their careers, had delayed the discussion of starting a family until life calmed down enough to allow the space for parenthood to be feasible. For Amy, adoption had always been in the back of her mind, a decision informed by Jake and his son, now in his mid-twenties and traveling the world much like his dad did decades prior.

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The bond with her grandfather was profound

“It didn’t feel important to be pregnant or give birth. What did, was to provide a kid with consistency, safety, and the opportunity to thrive. That’s how we determined our path to parenthood would be as foster parents,” Amy explained, her voice filled with conviction.

During the lengthy licensing process, Amy’s beloved 92-year-old grandfather fell seriously ill in Australia. The bond she shared with him was profound, and his illness prompted an urgent visit. She spent precious days by his side, discussing foster care, the stock market, and life in America.

Elderly man tending to potted plants in a sunny garden.

Pictured: Amy's grandfather in his prized garden before

becoming ill

“On a Friday night, my mum sent me a video message from ‘Pa’. Five days later, I was sitting next to his hospital bed, trying to keep it together while he fought to breathe with failing lungs. Those moments were incredibly precious,” she recalled.

After he passed away, Amy was left grappling with her grief. She realized that what made their relationship so special was the sense of belonging he provided. This realization inspired her to create Percy, a weighted plush bear designed to mimic a hug, named after her grandfather, whose nickname was Percy.

Smiling girl hugging a teddy bear in a cozy room.

So much love for Percy

"I highly recommend this bear for any child as well as an adult. I myself as an adult love this bear. He is very well made and the customer service is outstanding. I will be ordering from this shop again. And as an added bonus, the purchase also helps kids in foster care so hurry and order your bear."

Debra M.

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Creating a brand with lasting impact, beyond a bottom line

As she prepared to welcome foster children into her home, Amy found herself overwhelmed by the lack of well-designed, reasonably priced essentials for kids. This led to the creation of For the Cubs, a brand offering quality products for eating, sleeping, and soothing. And as she’s built the business over 2.5 years, Amy and Adam welcomed nine children from foster care into their home, each child leaving a lasting impact.

It’s no surprise that with every purchase on For the Cubs, customers are also helping support kids in foster care. Through One Simple Wish, Vale hopes to grant 1000 wishes this year.


“Through For the Cubs, I want to create something with lasting impact. This is for parents and caregivers seeking quality products for their little ones, for people of all ages who can now find comfort in a bear that honors my late grandfather and the sense of belonging that he offered me, and most importantly, for kids in foster care who will know that someone cared enough to make their wishes come true. This isn’t just a business; it’s a testament to the power of love, connection, and belief in the stories of those who need it most,” Amy said, her voice breaking with emotion.

This isn’t just a business; it’s a testament to the power of love, connection, and belief in the stories of those who need it most,” Amy said.

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Editorial note: This Founder's Journey is a true story. Some names and specific details have been changed to protect individual's identities. This story has been published by For the Cubs.