Simone Biles Is Teaching Americans That Adoptive Parents Are Just Parents
The 4-foot-9 all-star gymnast dominating the Olympics isn’t just racking up medals in Rio and making an international name for herself as potentially the best gymnast of a generation — Simone Biles is also bringing awareness to adoption in America. Of course, everyone knew about adoption, but it’s become abundantly clear that many people don’t know how to talk about it. Biles is showing them the way.
After spending time in foster care because her mother struggled with addiction and couldn’t care for her and her siblings, Biles, now 19, was adopted by her maternal grandpa and step-grandma, who she calls her parents. Because they are her parents.
However, not everyone understands that simple concept, including some Olympic commentators. NBC gymnastics commentator Al Trautwig said on air that the gymnast “was raised by her grandfather and his wife and she calls them ‘mom’ and ‘dad.'” He then dug himself a deeper hole on Twitter, responding to a tweet explaining that they are in fact her parents by saying, “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.”
Trautwig apologized the next day in a statement from NBC Sports, saying, “I regret that I wasn’t more clear in my wording on the air. I compounded the error on Twitter, which I quickly corrected. To set the record straight, Ron and Nellie are Simone’s parents.” The tweet has since been deleted, but the power of a screenshot should never be underestimated.
When asked about Trautwig’s offense comments, Biles told Us Weekly, “I personally don’t have a comment. My parents are my parents and that’s it.” It really is that easy. Adoptive parents are parents, end of story.
Her father, Ron, told USA Today when asked about adoption, “It 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.” While they probably don’t appreciate being the subjects of so much attention just for adopting their kid, it is encouraging to see how they’re changing the conversation for the better.
Biles isn’t letting all the talk about her personal life distract her from doing what she went to Rio to do. She’s already won a gold medal in the women’s team all-around and is expected to rack up even more as the competition continues. Hopefully commentators will refer to her parents as her parents going forward and respect that her family is just like any other.