*Photo credit: nome do fotografo/Agência Brasil
For world champion Olympic gymnast, Simone Biles, mental health self-care is one of her most pressing priorities. Her parents, who adopted her from foster care when she was a child, are her biggest fans and are the backbone of her support system.
At the women’s U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials last month, Simone Biles showed everyone why she is the GOAT – the greatest gymnast of all time. Her first-place finish sealed her place on the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, and for the second time, Biles headed to the Olympics.
After a shaky start in Tokyo, Biles made the shocking decision to withdraw from the team competition. In an interview, she shared that “We have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day we’re human, too. So, we have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.” Biles has spoken openly about her mental health struggles in the past and now joins a number of other prominent athletes, like Naomi Osaka, who are changing the game and making their mental health a top priority.
Biles Speaks Out About Prioritizing Her Mental Health
Biles has embraced therapy as part of her mental health regimen, calling it her “safe space.” She spent years avoiding it. She cites two factors that drove her resistance: the stigma around mental health and therapy; and thinking she had to handle all her challenges on her own.
“I thought I could figure it out on my own, but that’s sometimes not the case. And that’s not something you should feel guilty or ashamed of,” Biles explained.
Biles admits feeling a range of emotions when the Olympics were cancelled last year. She wanted to compete. Now, she had to train hard for another year. And, she hadn’t healed from the trauma of being sexually abused by someone she trusted – her team doctor.
Therapy has given Biles the tools to process her thoughts and feelings and regulate her emotions. And, as part of her mental health self-care, Biles makes sure to take time off to relax and recharge. Sundays are hers to spend time with family and friends.
Family is important to Biles – especially her parents. They have been a guiding force, steady presence and support system for Biles throughout her life and career. And they maintain a strong and loving family bond.
Simone Biles’ Grandparents Adopted Her from Foster Care
When Biles was young, her family situation became unstable as her mother struggled with drug and alcohol addiction while trying to raise four children. After an investigation, Biles and her siblings were removed from their mother’s custody and placed in foster care. The children were in the care of foster parents until they went to live with relatives.
Biles and her younger sister, Adria, went to live with their maternal grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles. The other two siblings – a sister and brother – went to live with Ron’s sister, their great-aunt. After it was determined that Biles and her siblings could not safely reunify with their birth mother, the family members they were living with adopted them, giving all of the children safe, permanent homes.
Over the years, Biles has spoken often about spending part of her childhood in foster care. A few years ago, she wrote about how her parents’ support and encouragement helped her thrive and flourish. They have provided the stability and nurturing she needs and have kept Biles motivated when she wanted to give up.
“Although I was young when my foster care ordeal began, I remember how it felt to be passed off and over-looked. Like nobody knew me or wanted to know me. Like my talents didn’t count, and my voice didn’t matter. Finding a family made me feel like I mattered.”
Kinship Adoptions Help Make Families Stronger
Kinship adoption (or kinship care) is often the most desirable and preferred option when safe family reunification cannot occur. Our caring and compassionate professionals seek out relatives – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – or other adults whom the child already knows and trusts.
Living with relatives or other trusted adults in a safe, stable environment promotes positive self-esteem and a higher sense of self-identity. Kinship care and adoptions help strengthen family bonds by giving children and youth the support they need from caring adults they already know.
All children and youth in foster care need safe, stable homes so they can live their healthiest and most successful lives. If you’ve ever considered opening your home to a child in need, KVC will support you every step of the way. Click here to learn more today.