Adoption has come a long way over the years. Today, most people feel very positively about adoption. In fact, 94 percent of individuals believe that adoptive parents are incredibly fortunate to have made an adoption plan. 90 percent of adopted children have positive feelings about their adoption, and over 80 percent have a warm and close relationship with their adoptive parents. Adoption is positive for everyone involved and yet, it is clear that there are still misconceptions.
If you have been keeping up with the Olympics this year, you likely know of Simone Biles. Just last week, the 19-year-old, United States’ gymnast earned three gold medals and became the first American woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles. Simone Biles’ story is inspiring young women, athletes, and families worldwide; not only for her talents as a gymnast but also for her strength and perseverance off-stage.
Fifteen years ago, Simone Biles and her little sister were adopted out of foster care by their maternal grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles. Their biological mother struggled with addiction and was not able to take care of her children. Together, the girls moved to Texas to live with Ron and Nellie, who quickly became more than grandparents.
Ron and Nellie are Simone’s legal adoptive parents, her support system, and proudly, her Mom and Dad. They raised her to be the woman she is today, encouraged her every step of the way, and have consistently been in the stands catching blown-kisses from their golden daughter these past weeks.
On Sunday, August 7th, however, Simone Biles and her parents were put down by gymnastics announcer Al Trautwig, who refused to accept Ron and Nellie as Simone’s parents. Trautwig explicitly stated on-air that Simone Biles “was raised by her grandfather and his wife and she calls them mom and dad.” He later wrote on Twitter, “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.”
In just two statements, Trautwig proved that there still exists a huge stigma around the subject of adoption. He not only rejected Simone Biles’ parents, but also the legitimacy of all adoptive parents. He threatened Simone’s own self-identity as an adopted child. He posed many uninformed questions such as, “Can grandparents be parents?” and “Are adoptive parents as real as biological parents?”
Simone Biles set the record straight when she replied,
“My parents are my parents and that’s it.”
That is it. Adoptive families, no matter their make-up, are real and true families in every aspect – legally, financially, emotionally. What makes a parent a “real parent” is not biology. It is nurturing. It is the day-to-day care, the unconditional love, devotion and commitment that makes a parent a parent.
And Simone Biles, like most adopted children, is happy with where she is today. She has a supportive family who encourages her through the best and the worst of days. She has her parents and her birth parents, and to her, that is completely normal. There is no doubt or confusion in her mind.
The Olympic gymnast has an open adoption plan. Simone talks to her birth mother on holidays and birthdays and has met her a few times in person with Nellie by her side. While she sometimes wonders about the “what-ifs,” Simone chooses to focus her energy on one family. She explained to TIME magazine, “I have everything I need, so there are no blanks left unfilled. I never felt I had questions or needed answers or had a part of me that was missing.”
Ron Biles, Simone’s father, lends some advice to all current and prospective adoptive parents out there. In a USA Today article, he remarks that “[Adoption] is a wonderful thing. It gives you the opportunity to enrich the life of yourself and the child, and enrich everyone who is involved in your life.”
He continues, “Raising kids is just a wonderful thing. You get to see them grow and be a part of that, and I can’t think of anything more satisfying. It is an important issue and I could only say good things about it.”
Adoption is, in fact, positive for everyone involved. The Biles family is raising the bar when it comes to how society perceives adoption. So should we.
If you would like to speak to Adoptions With Love about adoptive parenting, the adoption process, or receive adoption advice, please call toll-free at 1-800-722-7731 or contact us here.