Simone Biles is adopted. I am adopted. Stop talking about how we are adopted
‘Try and tell us who our parents are’
by Erica Spaeth
As I’ve been watching the Olympics, I’ve seen Simone Biles and the rest of the U.S. team absolutely crushing it – we all have. They are doing an amazing job and, of course, getting attention for it. But as per usual, that’s not enough. People just cannot stop themselves from digging into their personal lives.
Inevitably, it came out that Simone Biles’ parents are her biological grandparents who adopted her and her sister Adria sixteen years ago, taking care of them when their biological mother could not.
Some people, namely the gymnastics announcer Al Trautwig (who I find supremely annoying), think it’s somehow important to establish that Nellie and Ron Biles are not Simone’s “real” parents, and I, an adopted child, have something to say to him.
A parent has nothing to do with biology. A parent is someone who cares for you and loves you no matter what – someone who does whatever it takes to keep you safe and makes sure nobody hurts you.
A parent is someone who reminds you how amazing you are and helps you reach high and live your dreams – just like Simone Biles’ parents did. Just like my parents did – and do – every single day.
I was adopted as an infant. My biological mother was young and unable to care for me, much like Simone Biles’ mother. My parents (my adoptive, but very real parents) dropped everything to come from Washington, D.C. and pick me up in Shreveport, Louisiana. They stayed there for two weeks before bringing me home to Potomac, Maryland.
I was born with some conditions. My biological mother did not take care of herself properly while she was pregnant, and so I was born small , malnourished, and with motor coordination problems – I did not walk until I was 18 months old.
Still, my parents took me to countless doctor’s appointments and physical therapy appointments, so that when I finally learned to walk, I ran. Try and tell me who my parents are.
My mother has been all over me since the moment I was born. She hand crafted bows for me (eventually creating a small business out of it), picked out my outfits, chaperoned my field trips and helped with the school play.
She drove me to school and to my soccer games, and attended all of my horse back riding lessons despite being terrified that I would fall off the horse and hurt myself.
She made me breakfast, lunch and dinner and tracked how many hours I spent watching TV. She helped me learn how to ride a bike, and taught me to spell my name. She was my parent.
When I was twelve my mother passes away, and my father stepped in right where she left off – he poured his heart into me.
He made sure I went to bed full of food every night and still played all of the sports I wanted to. He put my older brother through college and worked the whole time. He drove me to all my doctor’s appointments and practices, as well as continuing to coach. He didn’t do a single thing without me in mind. He is my parent.
Years later my dad remarried, and his new wife took me in as her own. She sent me to study abroad at Oxford when I was in high school, and took me to her office so I could learn the ropes of a professional woman.
She helped me get internships to jump start my career, kicked my ass when my grade fell below a 3.0, and sent me to the British Virgin Islands for a summer to do community service so that I could help others and understand my privilege.
Because of her, I walked out of high school with over 160 hours of community service, a 3.6 GPA, and 5 colleges to choose from. She is my parent.
So please, I dare you to tell me that any of these three wonderful people aren’t my real parents.
Tell me how they failed to parent me. Tell me how they failed to nurture me and help me grow. Tell me that without them, I would be attending the University of Pittsburgh, on my way to a semester abroad. Tell me I would have just completed internships with both Harper’s Bazaar and Badgley Mischka. Tell me that they aren’t the reason that I am alive and thriving today.
On behalf of all the adopted kids out there who have their parents to thank for every opportunity life has handed them, please tell us how the women and men suffering through long days and nights to get us to where we are now are not our real parents.