Al Trautwig Out of Bounds With Biles Comments

I didn’t watch any of NBC’s gymnastic coverage Monday night. I focused on swimming and a bit of beach volleyball.
So I didn’t learn about Al Trautwig’s comments regarding American gymnast Simone Biles and her family until I picked up my morning newspaper. That’s when I got angry.
For those who don’t know Biles, who is now 19, and her younger sister, spent some time in foster care before moving to Texas to live with her maternal grandfather Ron Biles and his wife. The couple formally adopted the two siblings in 2000 when Biles’ biological mother’s paternal rights were terminated.
Simone Biles refers to her grandparents as her parents, and her opinion, and that of her sister, are the only ones that should count.
During Monday’s telecast however, Trautwig referred to the couple as Simone’s grandparents. That might have been palatable but Trautwig reached a new low in ignorance and insensitivity when a viewer tweeted him and suggested he refer to Ron Biles and his wife as Simone’s parents. His response, according to the Associated Press was “They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.”
Trautwig subsequently apologized but as an adoptee, I find his apology difficult to digest and if I were making the decisions at NBC Sports I’d be thinking long and hard about keeping him off the air for the remainder of the Games.
Being a parent biologically is one thing, being a parent is quite another and Trautwig seems incapable of understanding the difference. So we will do our best to explain it to him.
I was adopted when I was about a month old. I know a tiny bit about my biological parents but it wouldn’t be enough to fill one paragraph here and I really don’t care about knowing any more. They were my biological parents but they were not my parents.
My parents brought me home raised me, loved me, and my sister, whom they adopted not quite two years later; we’re not biological siblings but we are siblings in every way except biology. They raised us in the 60s and 70s, in the midst of Vietnam, the first landing on the moon, and Watergate. They certainly faced many of the same challenges other parents did in that era.
That’s what being a parent is. And my sister and I knew from Day One that we were adopted.
Our parents are both gone now. Mom was almost 91 when she passed away in November of 2014. She was a big fan of the Olympic Games and I don’t have to think very hard about how she would have reacted to Al Trautwig’s comments; she would have been deeply upset. And here’s part of the reason why. At the time I was born there was a stipulation in the adoption laws of my home state (and I believe there still is) that gave a biological parent six months to change their mind about an adoption. My mother told me years later that she lived in fear that that was going to occur in my case, that the child she and my dad had wanted for so long would be ripped away from them by judicial edict.
In fact, when the six-month window expired, she burned the adoption records.
Simone Biles and her sister got it right. They know who their parents are. Even if Al Trautwig does not.


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