' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Simone Biles' commotion over her (adoptive) parents
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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Simone Biles' commotion over her (adoptive) parents

Simone at work
Simone Biles, one of the stars of the Olympics, is at the source of a huge kerfuffle regarding what adoptive parents deem as acceptable language when it comes to them. Al Trautwig, a NBC commentator, referred to her briefly by saying she was raised by her grandfather and his wife and she calls them mom and dad. He also said that she was adopted by them. He also tweeted: “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

Well, you'd think that he had thrown out a bomb. It was bold, I'll admit and I wonder what prompted him to go that far--that is, CAP the NOT. Maybe he was being nudged to diminish or hide her back story, and he said, Wait a minute, that's not the true story. Maybe he is the biological father of a child who was adopted. Maybe he wanted to raise his own child and was denied that. Or maybe, he had already been criticized for acknowledging that she was adopted by her grandfather and step-grandmother and he was irritated by the sensitive souls who had taken offense and were already complaining about hearing the truth, a prospect that I as a journalist find plausible. Who knows?

What is known is that adoptive parents went ballistic. A blogger and adoptive mother wrote of being outraged that he kept referring to her parents as her grandparents. Last night a war broke out on Facebook on the Slate page where a writer called him out for..."Despite what Trautwig seems to think, the Biles’ formal adoption of Simone and her sister means Ron and Nellie Biles are Simone’s parents and that Simone is their daughter." The headline in Slate pretty much said it all: "Why Does NBC’s Al Trautwig Refuse to Call Simone Biles’ Adoptive Parents Her Parents?

Lorraine
The story was shared on Facebook more than 15 thousand times and there are nearly 300 comments as of this morning at Slate. Now there are several stories elsewhere in the media and I'm sure thousands of comments from outraged adoptive parents, and adoptees too. Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption, says that calling them anything but "her parents" diminishes them: "Some of us would find that offensive," he told the Associated Press. All this...for being honest about her real relationship with her adoptive parents, Ron and Nellie?

The pro-adoption community is super sensitive about language and has promoted noxious, obfuscating, sugar-sweetened language on the world, and particularly we natural mothers for years. They don't want the words to sound as brutal and devastating as adoption can be for a great many mothers, and the adoptees too.

Simone is an amazing athlete and journalism is a profession that tells the story. And her story is that she was adopted by her natural grandfather and step-grandmother, Ron and Nellie Biles, and they raised her. I'd heard one of the original comments by Trautwig, and I thought, well, he's at least telling the full story here in an abbreviated fashion. I'd already known Simone's adoption story because I had read profiles of her.

But what this explosion of indignation and today its coverage in national media everywhere reveals is how fearless and entitled the pro-adoption community feels to trumpet their version of adoption--that anything before the adoption (like birth) is to be eliminated. They wish to insist that the adoptive parents position front and center as the only people on earth responsible for this amazing fireball of energy and talent are the adoptive parents. Even to indicate that her background is more complicated than that, and their attitude is: Shoot the messenger!

The blowback from the adoptive parents community led NBC to order Trautwig to delete his original tweet (he did) and say instead: "To set the record straight, Ron and Nellie are Simone's parents," Trautwig said Monday.

Yet when we natural mothers raise a ruckus about offensive ads (Cheerios, Kaye Jewelers) we get to note dislikes on Facebook and You Tube, but the general media yawns. We do not have the warm wind of the pro-adoption sentiment in this country behind our backs. We are the people who Shall Not Be Mentioned. We are only the mothers. Or, as we are reminded: the birth mothers. The adoptive mother is The Mother. Even when talking to someone I knew quite well--an adoptive mother--I've had my language corrected. Even though I am not only the mother who bore my daughter, who lived her all summer for several years, who later spent a great deal of time at my house--known to this woman--that did not allow me leeway to refer to her adoptive parents as anything but "her parents!" I remember this woman looking at me and saying: They are her parents. Talk about being diminished! (I wouldn't let that pass so easily today.) I also realized how fragile and insecure she felt about not being a mother whose child carried her genes.

The truth is Simone was born to a mother with addictions. Simone and her younger sister were formally adopted by Ron and his wife Nellie, her step-grandmother, in 2003. Two other siblings were adopted by Ron's sister--or their great aunt. At Nellie's urging, Simone has met her natural mother a couple of times, but at 19 Simone still lives with Ron and Nellie--her adoptive parents, her parents, her grandparents, Mom and Dad, which is what Simone calls them.

They sound like terrific people. A few years ago they even built a special gym for Simone and her coach. I don't deny they are her parents. But Simone has more than one set of parents. I'm relieved that she is with her kin, and has some contact with her mother. Simone is fortunate is that she has always known the truth about her background. It would be refreshing to see people accept that reality. But in today's world, that's not acceptable.--lorraine

Here's a link with a video clip of her natural mother (LINK FIXED)
Simone Biles' biological mother blasts U.S. gymnast's grandfather

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Should 'adopted' be mentioned when people are in the news?

_______________________
Hole In My Heart: memoir and report from the fault lines of adoption
by Lorraine Dusky
"...an intricately-crafted, tender and honest reminder of the damages suffered by parents and children amidst even the best-intentioned of adoption decisions. Hole in my Heart should be required reading for all who are contemplating placing a child or adopting for this precautionary tale offers poignant lessons about the importance of adoption being an option of last resort; the inadequacy of openness and/or reunion as a salve for lifelong adoption losses; and the need for adoptee rights legislation in America."--Elizabeth Jurenovich, director of Abrazo Adoption Services, San Antonio
"No matter what perspective you're coming from, whether adopted person, adopting family, original family, clinician, someone interested in adoption, or a member of the general public, you will find something helpful and informative in this deeply moving memoir and fact-filled guide....And to find a therapist who actually had experience with surrendering parents? Virtually impossible, especially in the small town where I now live. So it was important to me to share this book with my therapist--who has found it "eye-opening" and an amazing read." Jasmine, NYC on Amazon

SEE ALSO
'Preferred' adoption language is bunk

89 comments :

  1. My anger came from a different perspective, although I agree with what you said as well. This is what I posted on my Facebook with a link to an article about it. (I have often shared articles and statements about not reducing my daughter's other mom and dad for the same reason- deciding for an adoptee how their own personal relationships are defined. IRL, everyone knows I refer to them as her mom and dad, no qualifiers.)


    It's easy to say "adoption made them her parents" in response to this announcer's unacceptable tweet. That's not it. That isn't the issue, and it also may not be a universally true statement for every adoptee. What angers me is how Simone Biles, the actual adoptee being talked about, is being ignored and a commentator is deciding FOR her who her parents are or are not. This is not his decision, and it's a classic example of how adoptees are treated as eternal children where even complete strangers are able to decide for them how they will define the adoptees relationships. Simone calls them mom and dad. Therefore, they are her mom and dad. Period. Not up for discussion. (As a point of note, I would be defending her just as passionately if she said that adoption does not make them her mom and dad, and that she calls them grandparents. Adoptee gets to decide. Always.)

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  2. What I don't understand is why Trautwig had to mention her status as an adoptee at all. Why is that anyone else's business?
    As an aside, my ex-husband was raised by his grandparents ( I am not sure if there was a formal adoption or not, but they were his legal guardians and for all practical purposes were his mom and dad). But if he were to refer to them he always called them his grandparents. I don't understand why these adoptive parents (on Facebook and elsewhere) have to insist on qualifiers and titles and continually argue about it. Don't they have lives???

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  3. The kerfuffle on FB is over the top! The people who are posting there haven't a CLUE what's up. I reacted like you, a bit surprised at his statement, but glad that he was telling things truthfully (for once). As I recall, however, it was the Grandfather/Father who first brought it all up as he spoke of his daughter, the mother.

    While I agree that adoptees get to choose for themselves how THEY will be addressed, I guess so do the other members of the adoption community. And, this grandfather/father CHOSE to mention he was also the grandfather of this super-talented little girl.

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  4. What a nasty thing Al Trautwig did. He does have some kind of an issue there, though we may never know what it is. I wonder if it's racial (the extended black family) he has a problem with. Very sad.

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    1. New and Old, Not knowing what point of reference or experience he was coming from, we have no way to say that it was "a *nasty* thing Al Trautwig did" except as a matter of personal opinion. I found what he said refreshing, also a matter of personal opinion.

      You said, "He does have some kind of issue there, though we may never know what it is." Why? Simply because his statement crawled up the status quo it "gives him some kind of issue"?

      It would have been nice if others had asked him why he referenced it that way instead of pulling the judge, jury and executioner bit. The rest of your comment is stretching speculation to the limit and sounds incredibly racist to me.

      Since we're indulging in speculation here, maybe he's an adoptee or maybe he's a step child, that got sick and tired of the rewriting of truth and reality. Maybe he's a literalist who sees they ARE her grandparents and not her parents.

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    2. Cindy, thanks for your candor.

      I have done some research on Trautwig in the news, and it looks like he has been much-criticized in the past for saying negative and sexist things about female athletes. I have read his Twitter responses to his critics about this current situation. As a result, I must amend what I said:  Trautwig isn’t just “nasty” - he is “mean and nasty”. There is a petition online to get him fired from NBC, and I think if they took him off the Olympics coverage, it would be the right thing to do.

      What he did is wrong and inexcusable. He made it a point to announce to the entire world, his particular view on Simone’s legal status in her own family, - insensitive at best, violating her family’s privacy at worst - damaging and cruel. “NOT her parents” insinuates that they, or she, are not what they should be. Simone is a minor (under 21, anyway) and deserves some privacy, as does her family.

      I don’t blame adoptive parents for being upset. In my view, he did the wrong thing. There is no way to defend what he did.

      I stand by what I said; I suspect racism may be in the mix somewhere - and Trautwig has created this situation all by himself. I also see online, on gymnastic and other news blogs, authors saying that his current comment was “vaguely racist” or “thinly veiled racism.”  This is how his comment, clearly, came across to me. But say as you wish.

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    3. I will agree wrong yes, because the legal status makes them her parents, and as or most importantly, she calls them her parents. They are mom and dad.
      Inexcusable? I have no previous experience with Al Trautwig's commentary. Only from this round of wordy slings and arrows do I even know of him, and that does not include his responses but for the original error and reports of the required apology.

      In speculating for reasons for Al's original error, I was going on personal experience's of needing clarity of biological truth, within a family framework of adoption and step parentage. A core needing to be 'single' in answering the question of "who are you?", "who is your family?", and similar questions. I felt a turmoil of anxiety from wanting, needing to speak *my* truth, and felt a guilty (as if lying) child when pressed as though I would be 'punished' no matter what I answered.

      The deep down, historic, what has been for generations biological truth, was my family. The legal and daily lived truth was another. I loved and still miss my adoptive grandmother very much, but the legal truth didn't ring true.

      This is the place where I made my speculations about Al's comment from. Also, I feel better when I (try to) use 'benefit of the doubt' for others. Inexcusable *sounds like* unforgivable. I can't see something as piffling and trivial as this is, **compared to** the overall grand plan of things, as being worth a hoot and a holler.

      It's deep, and all of us within adoption are all to aware. Truth is, all of we humans refer to our friends and family members in the way that feels right to us. Sometimes descriptors are added.

      Wondering, would it be better if we all addressed each other by name and not a 'title'? Simpler and less painful perhaps? Sounds better than by number as well, there would likely be a brawl over who got to be #1.

      New and Old, you're welcome. Thank you for the honest, open dialogue. It's nice to be able to discuss things, especially with our differing views.

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  5. I didn't hear Trautwig's comment but every story I've read about Simone Biles mentions her adoption. It's a bio bit that adds human interest to her story. Just as when Pres. Obama was running in 2008, commentators mentioned repeatedly he was the son of an Kenyan and a Kansan.

    Reporters may also tell of her adoption because Simone's life story contrasts with that of other successful gymnasts who are white and raised in wealthy families. Simone is black, the daughter of a drug addict, adopted by a family of modest means; a story of a young woman overcoming humble beginnings that appeals to audiences.

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    1. The Biles are not exactly of modest means; stories mentions that Mrs. Biles was co-owner of a chain of nursing homes:

      According to The Undefeated, Ron and Nellie met while Nellie was in college in San Antonio, and Ron was working in the Air Force. The Air Force wasn’t his only job, though; Ron was also busy raising his daughter, Shanon, as a single father. After struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, Shanon moved to Cleveland to be with her mother. In a recent interview with TMZ, Shanon Biles said she’s been sober since 2007, and believes Ron threw her under the bus when discussing her addiction with NBC. “He could have been more classy about it.” Shanon also says that she’s extremely supportive of Simone’s career and is happy to have reestablished a relationship with her biological daughter. “I just want to say I love you Simone … I’m so proud of you! Go Team USA and I’ll talk to you and see you when I can!”

      Some time later, Nellie became a nurse, and even co-owned a chain of Texas nursing homes. Ron, meanwhile, worked as an air traffic controller. Together, the couple had two sons, Ron Jr. and Adam.


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    2. Robin: I don't see aparent s getting upset because of insecurity. For some reason the bparents didn't want to or couldn't raise the child. When you give up the responsibility of raising a child, you are no longer the parent. You aren't the ones raising the child. Adoption isn't free daycare with perks. I'm an adoptee, and an aparent, and I was taught I have birthparents and then I have my parents ( mom & dad). That's I taught my ason too. He has bparents but only one set of parents us, mom & dad. Parenting is never ending and end when the parents die.

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    3. Maya: I have to totally disagree with you. First of all you write: "For some reason the bparents didn't want to or couldn't raise the child." Actually, my n-mother desperately wanted to keep me and certainly could have raised me. It was society who deemed her unworthy and set up roadblocks that she felt she could not overcome in order to keep me.

      I see insecurity all around in adoption, with adoptive parents repeatedly having to press that they are the child's REAL parents and some adoptees feeling as if there is always a question mark over their heads as to whether or not they are full members of the adoptive family.

      As I wrote, I do consider both my natural and adoptive parents to be my parents. And I would appreciate the respect, as we would show Simone, to decide for myself who are (or are not) my parents. I hope you will allow your adopted son the same courtesy. I respect you sharing your pov with him but not telling him what's what. He may, as he grows older, see things differently from you. And he has the right to have his own pov respected and validated and not feel that he has no choice but to agree with your opinion.

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    4. Maya: Sometimes parenting ends when just one parent dies and the other one realizes that adoption wasn't such a great idea after all and dumps the kid on other people to adopt.

      Like in my case. : )

      And, yes, only the adoptee gets to decide on parental terminology. I can have as many, or as few, "parents" as I choose -- the adults in my life had/have no say in the matter.

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    5. @Maya I am a b-mother. I did not "give up the responsibility" of raising my child. Instead, I "took responsibility" for my child's safety and well-being in the only way I knew how at the time. My daughter's parents are her parents because they parented her. I am her parent because I loved her enough to make my best attempt to ensure she was parented. It's not a contradiction. Placing her was extremely responsible because I truly never wanted to let her out of my sight.
      Not you specifically—but I've noticed a lot of either/or all-or-nothing thinking in this thread and in adoption, as in life, every situation is different.

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    6. Dina, what year did you place your child for adoption?

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  6. Kinship adoptions can be very confusing. If Simone Biles is really her grandfather's daughter, then her mother, who is also her grandfather's daughter would be her sister, as the result of the adoption.

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    1. Good point! Adoption legal papers make for some ridiculous fictitious genealogy - LOL :-)

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    2. @kitta -- this actually happened to me, as I was (the first time around) adopted by my grandparents.

      My birth mother then legally became my sister, my maternal uncle became my brother, and my bio siblings became my cousins.

      At the second adoption, I was dumped on the maternal uncle who was then no longer my brother, but now legally my father. My real mother was now legally my aunt, and my bio cousins were now my siblings. (One bio sibling was also adopted by our uncle, but at a different time, so he's both a bio AND an adoptive brother. Oy, vey.)

      So, SO confusing.

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    3. @Kaye,
      wow, you surely did move around in the family a lot.
      I had a friend who grew up in a kinship arrangement that was a confusing situation, but not as much as yours.

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  7. Okay - so, the girl came from addiction ridden mom..... hmmm.... and who were her mother's parents? Just wondering at what point we stopped realizing that it was rude and nasty of the guy to put it out that way, but the truth is, this girl's grandparents, the same grandparents that raised her mother to be an addict (and YES parents have a lot to do with addiction problems - even if they don't realize it)..... and then they raised their grandchildren "as if born to." Just curious.

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    1. No Lori, her grandfather is her daddy-by-adoption, (should have been forbidden), but her maternal side grandmother was his FIRST wife, the adoptive mother is another woman, and they only took in his granddaughters, his grandsons went to a sister, and were adopted too if I understand correctly...

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    2. Yeah - that sounds so much better.... hmmmm..... you have to wonder a lot about this situation. Whatever though. I mean, it really isn't anyone's business.

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  8. Adoptive mom here and I find it somewhat comical that you accuse 'us' of having a one-sided perspective and yet here you are spewing your venom at the rest of the world because they supported Simone? You keep saying that birth mothers are left out of the story but her birth mother is mentioned many times - no one - not one single person tried to make her mother disappear or say she wasn't part of the story - but she didn't raise Simone - her adoptive parents raised her and she called them mom and dad - that's all anyone pointed out. Why are you so angry? Maybe you need to look at your motivation for writing such a nasty piece shaming us adoptive parents. This isn't even about Simone anymore - this is about your feelings about your own situation - don't throw her name in it so you can get attention.

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    1. Perhaps you did not read the piece I actually wrote.

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    2. I find it comical that you are so angry PROUD ADOPTER MOM. Why do you feel the need to troll natural parent blogs and spew your venom? One sided? It is always all about YOU and how you feel about someone else's child and everyone's view of YOU as the almighty adopter savior; while most of you could give a rats behind about where that child you covet actually came from. That was not you, lady, ok, so get over yourself.

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    3. proudadoptivemom
      how did lorriane spew venom at adoptive parents? she doesn't even sound angry. or complain that simone calls the mom and dad, which lorraine recognizes as her parents. we are birth parents here. why do you get so upset by this since you call yourself prouddoptivemom? would you be less upset if the announcer called the biles the "proud adoptive parents" all the time? what exactly are you so proud of?

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  9. I think it was the emphasis and caps. They're NOT her parents instead of they're not her parents. And I agree, as an adoptee I hate it when people who don't really know me (and some that do) try to label and organize relationships in my life to fit what they think is correct. If someone said my (adoptive ) parents were not my parents. Fine. Personal opinion, I don't agree. But if someone said they're NOT my parents, that's strident and pushy. It's like my biological mom pming me on Facebook and telling me that I WILL call her mom (direct quote: That baby snatcher is not your mother. I AM your mother, you WILL call me Mom because I am your mom), needless to say it went down hill from there. My point is, context is everything. He's a journalist who is not unfamiliar with Twitter or what capital letters mean on line. He knew what he was writing and what the tone was meant to be, which I find condescending.

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    1. I still think that he has some personal reason for stating it like that-IN CAPS. Or maybe he was already tired of the complaints from APs because he was being criticized for what he saw as a terrific story--girl has addicted mother, is adopted by grandparents, is now America's sweetheart. I can understand his frustration if that were the case.

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    2. "I think it was the emphasis and the caps."
      ITA. Insensitive and intrusive.

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  10. The integral story that is being missed in the media about all of this, is that this young woman was kept in her natural/biological family. Her history was never severed. Her grandfather and step grandmother are her parents and her biological mother is and always will be, her mother. What she chooses to call her grandparents is her business. But adoptive parents are all in a huff because of the exposure of their own 'ownership' insecurities. I say, give your adoptive children a break and stop making it all about you!

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  11. NBC just can't learn. Tonight they did a feature about US Rugby team member Carlin Isles. He lived in foster homes until he was adopted at age six. Not only did NBC reveal Isles' adoptee status, but horrors of horrors, they used that verboten word "adoptive" in referring to his mother.

    Actually, we should encourage stories like those of Simone Biles and Carlin Isles because these stories may encourage people to adopt older children who come from less than desirable circumstances. This is adoption at it was intended: creating homes for children who need them.

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  12. I was unaware it was her STEP grandmother who adopted her. So not blood. Did that step grandmother raise Simone's mother?

    So much for adoption secrecy and sealed records "protecting" mothers privacy, eh?

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  13. Proudadoptivemom, I have looked through all these replies and at the original post and see no one posting "venom", with the possible exception of you. What I see is a certain amount of confusion as to what the whole deal is about, and how, even though neither Biles nor her grand/parents have commented since, this simple comment has set adopter's HAIR on fire!

    Mothers have made no demand for recognition here, nor anywhere that I have seen. It was the Grand/father who brought this whole thing to the press, and he mentioned that she was his daughter's daughter and she lost her due to drugs. That's it. And, yet, somehow, almost entirely predictably, this has suddenly become about the adopters. It is so darn important for everyone to know that THEY are the parents, the REAL parents, the ONLY parents. You have to wonder why the crown rests do precariously on their heads that they feel the need to remind everyone all the time?



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    1. Some of the adoptive parents were all over this when someone asked, "Does that make her mother her sister?". Their reply, "Yes, that makes her mother her sister and NOT (yes caps) her mother."

      By that thinking does that make Simone's siblings her cousins and not her siblings at all but for the sister adopted with her by their grandparents, and can they only be called siblings because of the adoption since they don't have another mother just a sister..wait a minute, would that make their NOT a mother sister their cousin too? Oh boy I'm getting really confused here, is it just me? Silly bunch of stuff this.

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    2. Reminds me of that old country/western song "I'm My own Grandfather"...LOL...

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  14. I LOVE seeing and hearing the TRUTH about adoption and these stories of what is best about adoption. Clearly, the Grand/father has no problem with it, as he's the one who mentioned it. She doesn't have a problem with it and she's with her family, her kin, her lineage. She knows who she is and why she is where she is. Thank you, NBC for these honest stories about adoption!

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  15. It is utterly ridiculous for adoptive parents to be up in arms about Al Trautwig supposedly minimizing their status as parents. Seriously, how insecure can you get?!! I think there are two sides to the coin here. On the one hand, you have to respect whom the adoptee regards as parents. In that aspect, maybe Al Trautwig did not consider Simone Biles' feelings on the matter. But, on the other hand, for adoptive parents to take offense?! Nobody can obliterate the existence of natural parents in an adoptee's life - not the adoptive parents, not even the adoptee.

    As an adoptive parent, I made the choice to bring into my home and nurture a child. It is mind-boggling to me that I should expect some kind of special recognition from anyone, including the child I am raising as my son, because of a choice I made. Being a parent is a feeling, not a title. If you adopt with the expectation that society or even your adopted child, for that matter, will acknowledge you as a parent, then you are not parenting for the right reasons.

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    1. Ditto. Thanks Jay, for commenting from the perspective of the adoptive parent. At some places on Facebook, I'm being called "bitter" for writing this piece. Funny, I didn't feel bitter at all, but it appears that when birth mothers speak up and criticize ANYTHING (Caps absolutely intended) we are bitter, angry, hanging on to the past, etc.

      Time to change that perspective.

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    2. Jay, I hear you, but I think you're being too nice. Trautwig has been offending athletes for years, and this time he went too far. His attitude and behavior are disgusting. He should be released from the Olympics and it would be doing the viewing world a favor.

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    3. Jay: as an adoptee and aparent I can't agree. Being a parent is doing the hands-on work of raising a child. Not everyone want's to raise their children. Some place them for adoption; some put drugs,alcohol above the child; and, some put a man above the child. Anyone can "feel" like a parent but the true meaning of a "parent" is the one who's doing the hard work of raising the child.

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    4. new and old: I did not know Trautwig's history but yes, I agree with you that was being obnoxious to Simone Biles by insisting that the people whom she regards as her parents are, in fact, not her parents.

      maya: I was distinguishing parenting as a feeling from parenting as a title, not to detract from the work involved. As a parent, you feel for your child, you do for your child - period. It bothers me when adoptive parents seek some sort of recognition or title as an "authentic" parent from others. You shouldn't need validation from Trautwig or anyone else about your status as parent. I think what he did was offensive to Simone, the adoptee, but I don't see why adoptive parents are getting in a huff over it.

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    5. This has been discussed many many times. "Parent" has many meanings. The first meaning is: one who begets or brings forth offspring. (Webster's)
      There must be biological parents involved in order for the child to exist in the first place. It is a fact of nature.
      Pregnancy and labor are not a minor "event."
      Mothers still die in pregnancy and childbirth. That is the truth. Others lose their children, against their will, to adoption. Also, the truth.

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    6. Maybe, for some, they are tired of having to prove they're the parents. Most people in society think the aparents aren't "parents" but "adopted parents," when they're not. They are the parents. How many times have you seen a child of a celebrity labeled as "the adopted child of...?" I get society is coming around to seeing adoption as a way of building a family and the family is the real family. But, as you have seen (like with Trautwig), there are still those who haven't.

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    7. "But, as you have seen (like with Trautwig), there are still those who haven't."

      There are lots of people who will never see adoption as a way of "building a family" and "the family is the real family." That is because adoption was/is supposed to provide homes for children who actually need a home....not necessarily replacing what they had before...and not denying it, either. Adoption is, also, not about providing children to childless people.
      What is wrong with saying "adopted"...do you think that should be hidden? Marriages and divorces are part of the public record and are mentioned in newspaper articles. If a child was a foster child, or grew up in any kind of circumstances, that will be mentioned.

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    8. Jay--If I could hit "like" at your comment, I would!

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  16. This is the head of the first story if you Google Simone Biles and adoption:

    Abandoned by Father and Drug-Addict Mother, Adoption Saved Olympic Superstar Simone Biles

    It's the truth. We mothers may not like the drug-addicted part, but let us accept that it is the truth in this case. Biles however wasn't so much abandoned as ignored due to her mother's addiction. As Laurie noted, the grandfather is the father of the "drug-addict mother." Who, I read has been clean for several years and does have a relationship with Simone. It would have been great if she had been able to be at the Olympics with her father and his wife. Now that would have made a great story. We'll have to do with this one.

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    1. That headline is awful.

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  17. Simone, and only Simone, gets to decide what to call the adults in her life. Period.

    What bothers me more is that what the public is going to take away from this is that adoption = success! Adoption = Olympic gold! Adoption = AWESOME!!!

    <*sighs*>

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    1. Yes, I have read the in the stories many places, some more than others. It is absolutely worth noting whenever we can that this adoption was among her own blood-related, DNA sharing, family and not with genetic strangers. If anyone is commenting else also, it is worth pointing that out.

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  18. Yow! After reading on Facebook, this post is being misinterpreted, even by adoptees. People read what they want to read.

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  19. When I hear this outcry from aps, it comes across to me as: "We ARE our adopted child's REAL parents. What's wrong with you? Didn't you get the memo? Get with the program!!!" To me, it just comes across as insecurity. If they are really so secure in their parent/child relationship, then why do they have to scream so much? And why do they have to remind us (and themselves) over and over again?

    Of course Simone should be the one to decide who she considers her parents, as every adoptee should. Some, like myself, think we have 2 sets of parents, and others only accept their natural parents as parents. I don't think being a parent is just a feeling, it's also a relationship.

    But when aps are so insistent on how everyone must view adoption, I sense a not so veiled threat to their adopted children on how they are expected to view their adoptive status, without any regard for the child's real feelings. The message seems to be: Get with the program, or else! It places adoptees in a double bind when so often they hear "Oh, so those aren't your REAL parents."

    It is vitally important to stress that Simone's situation is a kinship adoption. It is very different from most adoptees in that she is being raised in her blood family, with her bio-sister, and knows the rest of her family and her story. That is an entirely different scenario than an adoptee who is moved to another city or state, or even halfway around the world to live with complete strangers. I worry that most people who are so rah-rah adoption don't understand the significance of this difference.

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  20. I disagree that insistence on calling them her parents is to diminish the first parents. Simone said in an early interview that "there is no story. They are my parents." This owning of the narrative doesn't deny the complexity. What IS undeniably a privileged, classist subtext is the commentator choosing to define the narrative as if it is his own decision to, and to imply that since one child born to a drug-addicted woman and adopted through foster care can achieve these heights, everyone can - why don't YOU pull yourselves up by the bootstraps too? This all takes away from the celebration of her achievement and is invasive. It's akin to the similarly biased reporting of other female Olympians by referencing the famous men in their lives, as if they are the authors of the achievement.

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    1. Not trying to be rude, but your statement "pull yourselves up by the bootstraps" is one of the most overused, ridiculous statements of all time. NO ONE DOES ANYTHING ALONE. And frankly, while I agree it is invasive, the girl put it out there. As did her ADOPTIVE parents and the only person that is not liking what is happening is the Mother, who is struggling to remain sober in the face of the instant celebrity that HER FATHER thrust on her with his selfish statements. Please, remember, there is another human being in this mess - and she is the one that actually gave the girl life.

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    2. You seem to have misinterpreted GEMsMommy here, Lori.
      She said that "Why don't YOU pull yourself up by your bootstraps too" is a priviliged and classist subtext. she is expressing concern and sympathy. Not passing judgement.

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    3. Thank you for clarifying what I was saying, Anon. It is not true that the Biles "put it out there," like any one in public life, they are forced to deal with the voracious appetites of the journalists and their reading public. They answered the questions the best way they could, and Simone has made it clear that the focus should be on her achievement, which is where her focus has been all these years.

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  21. I'm just curious here--are many of the women referenced to their partners, who may also be Olympians or coaches? I haven't been watching all the time and have missed the kind of reference you mentioned. But if their men have partners who are Olympians or previous Olympians or the sons of ... isn't this also mentioned? I'm truly curious.

    As to your first sentence, I don't imply what you say--that merely calling them her parents diminishes one's natural biological parents. The post is not about that, but rather about the commotion among adoptive parents that Trautwig's comment generated--blogs, that lead to media stories that led to thousands (I'm guessing here) of comments. Why the commotion? It does feel as if his comment--again, probably done with the NOT because he was already getting tons of negative feedback from Aps and was just pissed and Tweeting can be done quickly and in a burst of anger--has uncovered a lot of latent anger and negatively towards birth parents.

    As for diminishing....to have a friend tell me that when I was talking about my granddaughter and where she was staying and just mentioned her adoptive parents in reference to my granddaughter (whom she had met), I was corrected. Surprised the hell out of me. Told me how insecure my friend was about her status as a mother of a child from another country.

    No, I couldn't use the word "adoptive" parents. The were "her parents," said with confidence, you silly woman, don't you know you are only a birth mother??? I walked away with my cheeks burning and never felt the same about her again. I had assumed she was more sensitive to another's feelings. We were friends and to some degree, still are today.

    Try that on for size. Imagine you are talking to someone you know is a birth mother (not the one of your child) in a conversation about your grandchild (as in, where the grandchild was staying) and you said she was staying with her birth mother...and then you were corrected: No, Gems, She is her mother.... Who would not feel burned? No way would I have ever "corrected" her language and made her feel bad.

    I feel that adoptive parents who are upset with the post are not really reading it in the spirit in which I wrote it, though a few who have commented here have understood completely. Thank you, Jay and Tiffany.

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  22. This is the head of the first story if you Google Simone Biles and adoption:

    Simone Biles’ biological mother blasts U.S. gymnast’s grandfather for bringing up dark past

    It's the truth. We mothers may not like the drug-addicted part, but let us accept that it is the truth in this case. Biles however wasn't so much abandoned as ignored due to her mother's addiction. As Laurie noted, the grandfather is the father of the "drug-addict mother." Who, I read has been clean for several years and does have a relationship with Simone. It would have been great if she had been able to be at the Olympics with her father and his wife. Now that would have made a great story. We'll have to do with this one.

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  23. Here's a link to some of the female Olympians' who where overshadowed by mention of their husbands: http://www.dailylife.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-sport/us-sports-media-seems-to-be-having-trouble-separating-female-olympic-athletes-from-their-husbands-20160808-gqnnky.html There were also those who called Katy Ledecky, American swimming phenom, the "Female Phelps," spurring commentary: https://mic.com/articles/151161/michael-phelps-the-male-katie-ledecky-just-made-olympic-history?utm_source=policymicFB&utm_medium=main&utm_campaign=social#.EPh9fQKUx and here is another link, in which it is noted that a commentator reported on Simone “I think she might even go higher than some of the men.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/top-10-most-sexist-things-to-occur-at-the-2016-rio_us_57a88bfce4b0c94bd3c9fb86 and lastly a funny response: http://thetab.com/uk/2016/08/10/congrats-girl-fiance-former-miss-california-scoops-25th-gold-medal-13873

    I was responding to the fact that you spotlight the reactions of AP's to language, when in fact all members of the triad have that sensitivity. You state as much when you mention that "Yet when we natural mothers raise a ruckus about offensive ads (Cheerios, Kaye Jewelers) we get to note dislikes..." And you reference diminishment of first parents: "...national media everywhere reveals is how fearless and entitled the pro-adoption community feels to trumpet their version of adoption--that anything before the adoption (like birth) is to be eliminated. " Elimination is not implied by insisting that AP's are real, and important. You can find as many narratives that diminish AP's as all other members of the triad - "not real parents", "fragile," "saviors," "in it for the money," etc. The mainstream nuclear family is the ideal and all others suspect , while at the same time have been created as solutions to real problems with that idealized model. This story has gone beyond the adoption world because it also supports racist, classist and genderist propaganda - the story should be her accomplishment, and as usual a journalist, who from all accounts is historically of questionable ethics, is infatuated with his role and his need for a "good story."

    I am not upset with your post so much as I have a different focus for my anger about it. I completely agree with Jay's sentiment about not expecting accolades for my parenting, but I don't think that's what AP's are doing when they defend their actual positions as parents, nor are they trying to "obliterate the position of the first parents."

    And I also agree with Tiffany, that if Simone was referring to the first parents as parents and her AP's as grandparents, that would be perfectly acceptable as well.

    And yes, I am so sorry you had the experience of being "corrected" in such an inconsiderate way, that person seemingly had little understanding of her effect on people. if someone corrected me in the way you postulate, I would be offended and would engage them in a discussion about empathy, as well as a bit of education about how my daughter sees it and how I choose to have her addressed, if there were contact between said friend and my daughter. (For the record, I do believe both sets of parents are REAL, and it is really a personal matter for each individual and family to work out these relationships - the narrative is theirs to decide, as a universal human need to make meaning of our lives.)

    Thank you for the space to be in dialog.

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    1. I did not want to engage my friend at that point about what she had just said. I was about ready to leave her house and that would have been so damn uncomfortable. Maybe we are just different, but I'd wager that most mothers who relinquished would not wish to engage, though adoptive parents seem to feel little or no compunction when they are offended, and they appear to offend easily.

      And the point I made about complaining about how we are treated is that if we do complain no one major notices. Where are the stories in the media about ads or commentary that are offensive to birth mothers? I can't think of one. The public perception is that we have no right to complain. We gave our babies up, etcetera.

      A few years later the woman's husband, after a martini, gave a high five when he said (again as we were leaving their home) that even though she and her mother had been to the country of her birth (China) when she was 14 for a business reason, the girl had not been interested in learning more about the culture or her roots. The drink made him forget, I suppose, who he was doing this with. This time I was with my husband. We both said nothing to them as we walked away, but commented to each how how clueless he was. I wonder if it ever occurred to either of them that what they had just done was inappropriate. They did get upset when I had a letter in New York magazine--at this moment I cannot remember the specific issue--but it was about how people who wait too long to have children are not entitled to other people's.

      I realized how little this highly educated liberal couple knew about the feelings or adoptees, or wanted to know. There is a lot of information out there but if you don't want to learn, if you block your mind, you won't. Later, I did tell the father that maybe the reason his daughter did not go back to China on an academic trip she initially said she wanted to was because she realized she was hurting their feelings....he quietly agreed. Another friend of theirs at that dinner took them to task for not helping her get her visa or passport in order and so the trip slipped by.

      There are many ways to let adopted children know what is proper to do, and what is going to mortally hurt one's parents.

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    2. It's only one narrative - that is what I'm saying. The media jumping on it this way has totally to do with the prominence of the Olympics, and it will be yesterday's news in no time at all.

      I believe many AP's also choose not to engage, it's not a comfortable thing to do - there's so much casual curiosity people feel free to indulge in, and so much inundation with media, as well as emotional distancing courtesy of social media, that it's hard to have respectful, empathetic communication. And there is exhaustion with feeling the burden of needing to educate others about adoption.

      Still, as you point out, it's incumbent on those directly touched by adoption to seek out information and the support that is needed to process it, in order to survive, as well as thrive. It can't all be done online though, and that's where selective personal relationships can be important - totally agree that it's a personal decision as to how much, if any, you are willing to engage with others who don't share your perspective.

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  24. It looks like Simone can way more than handle any verbal gymnastics by commentators or any others. In a BBC article on her win of gold she said, "I'm not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, I'm the first Simon Biles. To me I'm just the same Simone."

    I'd say she nailed it. Gold.

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  25. I hope this encourages people to adopt older kids from foster care. I really don't understand why adoptive parents are upset. Adoptive parents bash birth parents all the time. Apparently I'm not a real mom or don't deserve to call my daughter mine because she has a mom already. A mom that lied to me and closed her adoption. Yet I can't call her mine.

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  26. No matter how much people move language around, we are related to who we are related to in the way that comes down through nature. Environment and friendship makes us relate to people in different ways--obviously Simone relates to her Mom and Dad as that, even though she knows she has a biological mother watching back in the US. I saw one clip when she said they had a watch party for when she would be on, and she mentioned that "her mother" came over. That would be her biological mother, divorced from Ron Biles, and the biological grandmother of Simone. I don't think Trautwig ever meant to disrespect Biles in his comments, not did he ever say that she shouldn't call her adoptive parents, Mom and Dad. She began calling them that at the specific request of Mom, according to stories.

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  27. It just occurred to me that the press is not calling out Simone's grandfather (who does, in fact, parent her - parenting is a functional role and not always a relational one), for his poor parenting of Simone's mother. He has not acknowledge that she's been clean for many years now. It is quite telling that he would publicly shame her like that. His parenting with her is horrifying. And yet they only want to beatify the adoptive parental role he plays. Just goes to show how much force the adoption industry has in writing the script.

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    1. I had those same thoughts Pamela.

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    2. P. Sela: You can be the best parent in the world and your (general) child can still turn-up a screw-up. However, I do wonder WHY the children were in foster care in the first place? Usually, before placement into the system, family is sought out. Maybe being the mother was on drugs and in a different state they ( the system), didn't know about any kin she had? Nonetheless, the bmom screwed-up and the grandparents/parents took over.

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    3. "You can be the best parent in the world and your (general child) can still turn-up a screw-up." You are right, Maya. And how do we know Ron Biles' parenting of Simone's mother was "horrifying"? Not fair to blast him for what we don't know. Maybe he and his wife tried hard to help her overcome her addiction problems but to no avail. It is reassuring to hear she's clean now though.

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    4. Anon@9:03 am: I agree and I believe the grandfather/mother are the "parents." I was just wondering why the girls were in the system before they were adopted? The mother was being irresponsible since she put drugs above her children. And like I said before, she was out of state so maybe her dad didn't know his grandbabies were in the system.

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    5. The children may have been in the foster care system before they were adopted because state child protection workers placed the children in foster care so they could sort out what was going on, what the relationships were, and so on. The workers may have believed "the children needed a change of environment." The workers may have been biased against biological relatives believong as many did, that "the apple does not fall far from the tree." All of this is common in child welfare even when stable responsible relatives are begging to have children placed with them.

      In the not too far distant past, Simone's grandfather and step grandmother may not have gotten custody of Simone and her sister at all. The workers may have decided to go to court to have Simone's parents' rights terminated and placed them for adoption, perhaps with the foster parents. The grandparents would have had no legal right to go to court and try to get custody and adopt the children.

      In other words, don't assume that child care workers make rational decisions based on the evidence. Their decisions may be based on funding, political pressure, racial bias, ignorance, not enough time to gather facts, and a host of other reasons.

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    6. If we consider addition as a sickness, saying that she put drugs ahead of her children is like saying, she put X disease ahead of her children. Putting it that way is a sure way to engage in the shame/blame of her mother and could not be stated more negatively.

      Simone's natural mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol. At the time, Simon's natural mother lost her children. She has been clean for several years now and has a relationship with her mother in Columbus, OH. One wonders where "Dad" was during this black time of her life. Perhaps he could have done nothing, but let's not say "she put X ahead of her children."

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    7. I agree with you here, Lorraine. I have never had a drug problem myself, but have read about these kinds of things on psychology forums. It is not a matter of someone putting drugs ahead of their children or other people (although obviously it is bad for the children), but for that person who is addicted it is a matter of survival. Not to mention, many times the person with the drug problem may have mental illness, or perhaps was traumatized earlier in life and has a lot of sadness and dysfunction because of that. Who knows what really happened to Simone's mother as she was growing up. I really think a statement like "she put drugs ahead of her children" is inaccurate and inappropriate. Someone who says that needs to educate themselves on mental illness and drug addiction. Thank you for mentioning this.

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    8. Okay, just weighing in here, but seriously, as a child of the system, a foster parent (former) and the mother of a child lost to the system (adopted out of foster care - long story - NO ABUSE), I can tell you that almost every addict I have ever met has a history of familial problems. If bio-grandma was raising bio-mom alone, then the "father" person has a responsibility in that he was one of those father's that was absentee - no matter what that is a problem for most children. While bio-mom is the addict, you have to wonder what the real story is.... HOWEVER, I will say this again. "Father" person has a responsibility in the problems that his daughter had. Father also obviously has respect issues because he took his struggling daughter's life and handed it to the press. Also, Social workers rarely make logical decisions when it comes to familial relationships because, like everyone else in the world should know, you really don't know what is going on in a home until you are living in it.

      All that said, addiction is a disease and if the mother has been clean for more than 7 years, this was not a "clean" adoption - because the young lady is barely of age and that would mean she was young when the adoption happened. These things are NEVER that nice in real life. I feel bad for all of them...

      I am disgusted that a man could fail to raise his own child, take her children and then put her on the spot in public and pretend that it is "no big deal"...... that speaks volumes of his regard for his now daughter's biological mother - and about his daughter. Both of them.

      Just saying....

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    9. Lori i agree with you. I've seen it in my family many times. One generation parties and neglects and fails their kids, only to condemn those same kids for doing the same, and to add insult, takes in the grandkids to protect them. It's a very painful cycle. i don't know the solution.

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    10. Kaisa, the worst thing in the system is the idiocy that allows parents of children who have been abused or neglected (no offense, but no sane human being chooses addiction - either they are there because of the abuse in their lives or neglect - it is NOT a choice made from a healthy place) to raise the grandchildren and allow them to adopt those grandchildren. It does not matter whether it was benign or not, patterns repeat in families. Anyone can argue that children are better with their families and be right - a percentage of the time. But most of the time, the reason the original child is addicted is because the parents (grandparents in this case) abused, neglected or simply were absent or flat didn't care about the addicted child.

      FACT: Yes, some perfectly normal parents raise children who are a mess. NO, almost no one chooses addiction if they are being raised by perfectly normal parents. Yes, it happens.... but again, I state, you really don't know if those "perfectly normal parents" are "perfectly normal" unless you live in their house.

      There is no solution, because, simply put - you don't really know unless you are part of the situation!

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  28. @Lo,
    agreeing with you here. This is still a biological world, at least for now, until we are all cyborgs...lol...And we don't stop being related to our relatives we were born to because of a court action, a change in custody, or because of what someone decides to call someone. There is only so much leeway that one gets with language.

    Since the Biles grandparents got Simone as a small child, I had assumed that they were the ones who had instructed her to call them "mom and dad." This seems a bit odd to me, as I am a grandparent myself, and would never want to be called anything but "grandma" which is what I am called.

    I do know some families who have adopted their grandkids and even though they have legal adoptions, they are still called "grandma and grandpa."
    I just have to ask, what is wrong with being an adoptive grandparent?

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    1. kitta i don't think there is anything wrong with being an adoptive grandparent. but i knew a girl in school who told everyone that her grandparents were her parents throughout grammar and middle school, when referring to them in their presence or not. in high school, once we were driving cars around and old enough to realize that her parents seemed a little older, she mentioned one time that they were really her grandparents and not her parents. i was at her house one time and just as i was going in her mom was leaving, and she later told me that was her mom, but that she used to call her her sister. it didn't make any difference to me, but i felt that it had made a difference to her in the past. once she became a teen it didn't matter as much, or the truth of the situation mattered more. she had some pride and although she never let on to me any feelings of shame, she did generally keep things under the radar whereas other families might be announcing themselves and their connections all the time.

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    2. @Kaisa,
      your friend's story is pretty typical from what I remember, growing up in my community. There were lots of kids in "kinship care" of different types. Some were raised by aunts and uncles, but they called their cousins their "sisters and brothers" even while they called their aunts "aunt."
      Or, they might by legally adopted, but still use their original name.

      Or, the other way around.That happened, too.
      It wasn't the kind of thing that people talked about. And we didn't ask questions, in those days. I had a very close friend in a situation like that. She was a wonderful friend, but we never talked about it. I would not have asked her. It would have been too rude to ask.

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  29. When all this hit the fan I was out of state and avoiding social media while on a trip with my mom. When I came back and saw this story circulating on Facebook with a headline that read something like "Announcer owes all adoptive parents everywhere an apology" I didn't even need to read the story to know it was stupid. Just rolled my eyes and thought "it must have been a slow news day!"

    From what I've read here, Trautwig sounds kind of like a jerk but yeesh, my fellow adoptive parents need to get over themselves. {EYE ROLL!}

    I guess they'd cringe at how I sign myself over here...lol...

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  30. Absolutely loved the sidebar about the fiancé. Readers should definitely click on the link. I howled :)

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  31. According to the stories, Mom (step-grandmother) asked Simone and her sister when Simone was seven or thereabouts, if they would like to call her Mom and their grandfather Dad. Simone said she thought about it, and decided it was okay. So....to me it was a situation when a couple of little girls were doing the right thing to not make Mom unhappy. Okay, fine, but it was not Grandpa who asked.

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  32. In the case of adoption, children have two sets of parents. The rabidly pro-adoption people might deny it, but it's true. The problem with this particular commentator is that he is denying that Simone's adoptive parents are her also her parents.

    "He also tweeted: “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents,” he wrote in a since-deleted tweet."

    I think Simone would disagree.

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    1. Anonymous doth protest too much.

      We don't know what Simone would say about that. Truatwig clearly meant her natural parents. If he had added that word me doth think that would have ruffled even more feathers.

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  33. Almost everyone I have ever known has some history of family problems, and most of them don't become addicts who are incapable to taking care of their kids.

    The story as I see it is that bio-grandpa was raising Shanon alone but because his work as an air control system installer meant he had to travel a lot, Shanon went to live with her mother, Simone's bio grandma. That must have been disrupting for Shanon, but doesn't make Ron Biles an "absentee father" in the sense that he didn't care or contribute in any way. It certainly doesn't sound as if he wasn't able to fulfill the job of parenting because he was some kind of party animal.

    Also, Simone and her sister went to the Biles when Simone was three. They were officially adopted when Simone was six. Not that young.

    Ron Biles has said he decided to put the information about Shannon's addiction problems out there because so many people who knew the family were already aware of the circumstances, and he felt it was better coming directly from him than leaked to the press by people who didn't have all the facts. I can understand why Shanon felt hurt, but these were simply the facts.

    Shannon has evidently struggled gallantly with her addictions but it is not correct to say that she has been clean for "more than seven years". Her last arrest for DUI was in 2013 for which she served 9 days in jail. She already had history of arrests going way back.

    Ron Biles did not just "take" his daughter's children, just as his sister didn't just "take" Simone's brothers. In 2002 the kids were In foster care because their mother was incapable of looking after them. The Biles stepped up to the plate because they didn't want the kids raised outside the family. The kids lived with them for about two years and were returned to their mother. But because she hadn't been able to shake her addictions they were put up for adoption, which is when Ron and his wife officially adopted them.

    Whatever. Simone is great athlete. Let us salute her.

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  34. Saturday night my daughter told me her plan to major in Genetics. If anyone asked why, her answer will be " I want to find my real parents". I felt like a gymnast that stuck the perfect landing! She understands I'm her adopted Mom, and so do I.

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    1. I appreciate your sentiments, momengineer, so please excuse my nitpicking. But you are your daughter's adoptive mom, and she is your adopted daughter.

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    2. Momengineer-

      Thank you for that.

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  35. The adoption shaming of Simone Biles is why I never open up abput my own:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/revelist/the-adoption-shaming-of-s_b_11667160.html

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