Simone Biles competing in Tokyo spotlights another important subject: adoption and foster care

TOKYO - There are a lot of people excited that Simone Biles decided to compete in the women's balance beam final, the final gymnastics event here, on Tuesday.
Family. Fans. Sponsors. NBC manager.
After attempting just one unfortunate jump in team competition, Biles withdrew from all-around competition as well as the jump, floor and uneven bars finals because she needed to focus on her mental health and focus on complex air movements.
Their presence was missed. Also from groups that promote adoption and foster care and that are close to Biles' hearts.
From the age of 3, Biles spent some time in the Ohio foster system. The children's service found that her mother Sandra was unable to look after Simone, her two older siblings and a then little sister.
Simone had been spotted playing unsupervised with her older siblings in the middle of a street in Columbus, Ohio. Neighbors already suspected that the four Biles children, including four-month-old Aria, were left alone for a long time.
Their clothes were frayed and often dirty. Meals seemed to be skipped regularly. There was no structure. Both her mother and father fought substance abuse.
It was too much out on the street, however, so a neighbor followed to get everyone to safety. Sharon wasn't home. Nobody was. Stuck with no other options, the neighbor reported the situation.
A multi-year process began that ended with Simone and Aria moving in with their grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles, who lived outside of Houston, Texas, and were later adopted by them. Her two older siblings live with an aunt in the Cleveland area.
Every child in foster care and free-standing for adoption deserves the chance to move into a safe and stable family, from Simone Biles to non-gold medalists. (Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports)
"My road to success began the day my grandfather and his wife officially adopted my sister and me," wrote Simone in an article for CNN that promoted adoption.
“Even though I was young when I started foster parenting, I remember what it felt like to be passed over and overlooked. As if nobody knew me or wanted to know me. As if my talents didn't matter and my voice didn't matter. Finding a family made me feel important. "
That Biles went from such a vulnerable beginning to five-time world champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist is the kind of story the foster and adoption community likes to tell the huge audience that tunes in to the Olympics.
Also Simone, who works closely with them and is always open about their upbringing.
"With the spotlight on Simone during the Olympics, we hope that many more Americans will consider adoption," said Kristen Hamilton, strategic director of the National Council for Adoption. "Her story is one of many in which adoption into a caring and prepared family has provided the security and love a child has been waiting for."
Unfortunately, much of Biles' attention during these games was focused on her mental health and whether or not she would compete. Her inspiring life story was not mentioned very often.
However, the love Ron and Nellie have for their adoptive daughters is powerful.
"Simone is a sweet girl," said Ron Biles. “She is honest and caring. She thinks of everyone else first. Everyone knows her as a gymnast, but she's more than that. I would be just as proud of her today if she weren't a gymnast. You know?"
The last thing Ron and Nellie thought would be adoptive parents. They focused on raising their two high school aged sons and looked forward to traveling more when the boys went to college.
Then they heard from social workers in Ohio. Simone's mother, Sharon, was Ron's daughter from a previous relationship.
When times got desperate and the four children will likely be split up within the care system, Ron and Nellie decided to take them all in for a short time to see if Sharon could win her battle against substance abuse.
"I knew something had to be done," said Ron. "I knew I could have these children separated."
When it turned out that something more permanent was needed, they took the youngest two. The two older men wanted to return to Ohio and live there with their family.
Instead of a commitment, Ron and Nellie said they were blessed with love and joy.
"It's a wonderful thing," Ron Biles told USA Today of the adoption. “It gives you the opportunity to enrich the life of you and your child. And enrich everyone who is involved in your life. Raising children is just a wonderful thing.
"You can see it grow and be a part of it, and I can't think of anything more satisfying," he said.
Simone would, of course, become a master gymnast, but while this is great for the public, it is not relevant, say adoption advocates. They say that if children have the right structure and environment to grow in, they have tremendous potential in whatever they choose.
There is no bigger spotlight that Simone can put on the subject than at the Olympics.
That certainly isn't why she's competing on Tuesday, but it's an added bonus.
"[The story is] about the life-changing effects of adoption in their family and what it meant for them to move from a traumatic life as a child to a permanent, stable and safe home with their parents," said Kristen Hamilton.
"Every child deserves this chance."
Do it. Future gold medalist or not.
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Simone Biles
american gymnast

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