Jeremiah 29:11 “…for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you;
plans to give you hope and a future.”
By Rosey Moreno-Jones
For the past two weeks, Americans have been glued to their TVs watching the amazing talent and grace with which our Women’s Gymnastics Team has dominated the 2016 Olympics. The “Final Five” seem to have all of us, and indeed much of the world, mesmerized with their spirit, their spunk and their hopes for gold!
One young lady has emerged at the forefront of this team because of her leadership qualities as well as her God given gymnastic abilities. Considered to be the greatest female gymnast of all time, Simone Biles, lights up the screen with her smile and the sparkle in her eyes. What a “national treasure” she is for America – especially after a summer that has been fraught with racial tension and political discourse. Simone rises to the top and reminds us all that with hope anything is possible!
Born to a mother who was unable to care for her children because of debilitating drug and alcohol abuse, Simone and her brother and sisters were placed into foster care. An all too often familiar story for those of us working in child welfare, but a couple guardian angels stepped into her story. Her grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles, assumed custody of the children, and by the time Simone was six years old, they had adopted her and her younger sister. Her older brother and sister were adopted by Ron’s sister. Thank God for a family that realized taking care of these children and wrapping them in arms of love and hope were just what they needed.
As we work with children in foster care every day at Kids Central, we too often see children aging out of foster care without an opportunity to find permanency. When these children have a chance to be adopted, whether by biological family members, their foster parents or other interested families – everything seems to change for them.
As I often tell families considering the world of fostering/adopting – you have a chance to offer these children a promise – not to harm them, but to love them and give them hope and a future. And for many of them – no one has ever offered that to them before. This comes straight from God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11- “plans to prosper us and not to harm us….”.
In 2003, the year Simone was adopted, she made her first field trip to a gymnastic studio, and the rest is history. All because two people gave her hope and a future. That combined with love and the security that comes from knowing you have a “forever family” have helped this young lady achieve something few can even imagine. What a joy to watch her blossom, to see the potential that she realized and went for, with those parents behind her supporting all the way.
Shame on the NBC gymnastic reporter who last week tweeted, “they may be called Mom and Dad but they are NOT her parents!” I would like to invite him to one of our Kids Central Orientations or PRIDE classes to meet some of our foster parents, adoptive parents and the children who need them so much. Please never tell me that I am not my children’s mother because they did not grow under my heart but…in it.
For as Jody Landers has said, “A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me.” The greatest blessings I have been gifted with by God call me mom and nonna, and my heart bursts.
I am sure that Ron and Nellie Biles feel that same emotion each time they watch their beautiful daughter charm the whole world! God bless them for hearing His call and knowing that He would qualify them to answer it. He may be calling you as well. What will you say? The opportunity to be the bearer of “hope and a future” is right there – beckoning at you. Think about it.
As for Simone Biles, I am simply in love with her and what she and her teammates along with so many other American athletes have shown us over the past two weeks. Simone and I also have a couple of things in common. We share our birthday of March 14, though I am a mere 38 years older than her. And…. we both think Zac Efron is “the bomb”!