In an Olympics plagued with all sorts of announcing gaffes—including giving credit for Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s record-breaking performance to her male coach—perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that some old-school thinking around adoption has reared its ugly head.
NBC gymnastics announcer Al Trautwig decided that gymnastics phenom Simone Biles’ parents—her maternal grandparents, who legally adopted her when her birth mother was declared unfit—are not her parents. And he went out of his way to point that out, saying:
And to add insult to injury, when Twitter users started to call him out on it and suggest he simply call Ron and Nellie Biles her parents, he doubled down on his error, stating: “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.”
After further uproar, he finally issued an apology of sorts, but it’s incredibly frustrating to see this happen, time and time again, whenever adoption comes up in the media.
When it comes to adoption, it seems like there’s always someone questioning the “realness” of the family. There are stories, for instance, that make a big deal out of which of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s kids are theirs and which are adopted, and the same with Steven Spielberg’s crew.
But if you ask anyone whose actually in an adoptive family, you know that once you join the family, it doesn’t matter how you got there.
Simone Biles states, time and time again in interviews, that Ron and Nellie are her mom and dad. My daughters are my daughters, and I’m their mom. And yes, they are real sisters, through and through (including the standard bickering and battling).
When it comes down to it, adoption is just another path to join a family—as legitimate as marriage and as a biological birth.
You don’t need to share genes to share love—and it’s time for the rest of the world to catch up and understand that. Let’s start with Al Trautwig.