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Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles Adopted From Foster Care by Grandparents

simone biles adopted from foster care
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Simone Biles with gold medals

Biles with 14 World Championship medals – 10 gold (NBC Olympics)

The 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off in Rio de Janerio on August 5, and many Americans watched as three-time U.S. and world all-around gold medalist Simone Biles competed her way to win 4 Olympic gold medals for the women’s gymnastics team. The 19-year-old was a clear favorite to win, and Biles credits her ability to remain focused and never give up to her mom, who is also her grandmother.

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Growing up, Biles’ mother struggled with drug and alcohol addiction while trying to raise four children. An investigation resulted in all of the children being removed from their mother’s care and placed in foster care. Biles and her sister Adria went to live with grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles while the two older siblings lived with Ron’s sister. After it was determined that the children could not safely be reunited with their mother, Ron and Nellie adopted Simone and Adria in 2000. Ron’s sister also adopted the two older siblings, giving all of the children safe, permanent homes. All of the siblings maintain a close relationship, talking to each other often and even seeing their mother when they can.

Simone Biles and her mother Nellie

Biles with her mother, Nellie (CNN)

Biles was 6-years-old when she was adopted, so Ron and Nellie have been ‘mom and dad’ for as long as she can remember. In an interview with CNN’s Kelly Wallace, Biles talks about how her mother Nellie has always been there to support her and remind her that her size doesn’t define her and certainly doesn’t limit her power. Wallace even asked the 19-year-old gymnast if she could imagine where she would be today without her mother in her life.

“Honestly, I cannot even imagine that. How could you imagine life without the most important person in the world?”

While competing in season 24 of Dancing With The Stars, Biles opened up more about her adoption during the Most Memorable Year episode. Watch the video below to hear her talk about how her parents saved her and set wonderful examples of how to treat other people.

Every Olympics, Procter & Gamble creates video campaigns that focus on the mothers who support and raise the Olympians and the role they play in helping their children achieve their dreams. This year’s campaign struck a cord with Biles because it highlights four Olympians’ mothers and how their strength when faced with difficult life challenges helped their children learn about perseverance and resilience.

During times of crisis when parents are unable to care for their children, which can be due to a wide range of factors, the next desirable option is when a grandparent or relative such as an aunt, uncle or cousin can provide a safe and caring environment. Living with relatives or other people a child knows and trusts helps promote his/her sense of identity and self-esteem which develops from knowing their own family history and culture. It also strengthens the ability of families to give children the support they need and facilitates familial bonds. In many relative or kinship care cases, children can also remain in their same school district and community.

More ready and willing adults are needed to provide care for children and youth in foster care. Whether you know a child or relative that is in foster care, or simply want to help a child with no other family, you can make a difference.  Become a foster parent or adopt from foster care!

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