Monday, August 15, 2016

Adoption and the Olympics

I have been watching the Olympics and enjoying all my favorite events. (which is basically anything except water polo!)  I especially adore gymnastics and have loved watching the women's team this year. They are a dominating force and the routines leave me breathless with awe.  I am also pretty excited about the racial diversity on our team.  In a sport that was pretty much dominated caucasians, we have 2 blacks and a hispanic on our winning team. There are a two caucasians but the demographic of the team is startlingly different from previous years.

However what is not different is the media frenzy surrounding Simone Biles and her adoption story.  I have watched this unfold and it is painful at so very many levels.  First off, I am feeling very very badly for Simone herself.  Her personal life is out there for public dissection in every conceiveable way.  Adoptive parents are rallying around the "we are the real parents" banner.  First mothers are rallying around the "first families are forgotten" camp.  Foster parents and foster alums are weighing in.  All come with their own stories which color their perspectives.  And all i see is a young woman whose amazing gymnastic abilities and achievements are somehow incredibly being second fiddle to her very personal adoption/family story.

I want to be very clear that I wholeheartedly respect first families.  They are my kids family.  They have become my family, because we all love the same people.  And we all want what is best for the kids and we have learned from each other and we value each other.  I personally feel the portrayal of Simone's first mother in the press is cold and painful.  No one needs the labels that this woman has endured.  And if she is as she stated, sober for many years, it's even worse.  People make mistakes, sometimes horrible ones.  If we are lucky, and have a dose of common sense, we have an opportunity to learn from those mistakes.  I feel that the media is not giving Shannon Biles that chance. And the media circus could derail any opportunity in the future for Simone and Shannon to have a relationship should they wish to develop it.

Does this mean I don't support her adoptive parents?  No, of course not.  Her grandparents stepped up and they have clearly done a great job raising an amazing young woman.  The fact that Simone calls them mom and dad bothers me not a whit.  Kids choose what they want to call the people who love them. Also most kids have a nearly desperate need to fit in. I can see these factors playing into Simone's decision to call them that.  I have kids that call their first moms Mom.  I have kids that call their first mom's Mom followed by their first name)  I have kids that call their first mom by their first name.

It has never been my decision what to call their mom. It has been theirs.  I am happy being one of the moms. I am happy being lucky enough to be the mom that gets to kiss them goodnight, hear about their day and make memories on a daily basis with them.

Let's let amazing athletic achievements be the thing we watch and talk about.  Let's let these fine young people have a personal life this isn't dissected and the source of media sound bites.

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