Using Al Trautwig’s Example to Educate About Adoption

Al Trautwig's foot-in-the-mouth moments last week provide an opportunity to teach the news media how to talk about adoption.

Denalee Chapman August 16, 2016
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Boy, were we in the adoption community fired up about NBC’s Al Trautwig’s ignorant comments regarding Simone BIles’ family! And for good reason! Strong families are what make a strong nation. And strong nations create a strong world. It all starts with family. We adoptive families know that we’re not the only ones passionate about family. In fact, take a look at these quotes:

“A man should never neglect his family for business.” – Walt Disney

“The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family.” -Lee Iacocca

“Family is the most important thing in the world.”  - Princess Diana

“I sustain myself with the love of family.”  - Maya Angelou

“What can you do to promote world peace?  Go home and love your family.”  - Mother Teresa

“Family is not an important thing. It is everything.” – Michael J. Fox

Yes, family is important. That’s why we’re still outraged from Al Trautwig’s insensitive and ignorant actions during the Women’s Gymnastics Competition at the Olympics.

Did you miss it? Take a look here for a quick catch up. Popular adoption blogger Caroline Bailey voiced feelings many of us shared in this blog post. True to Caroline’s nature, she threw a little humor in with a meme designed especially for those of us who can hardly believe Trautwig’s weak apology.

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His apology? Shouldn’t taking down the tweet and apologizing be good enough? You tell me. “I regret that I wasn’t more clear in my wording on the air,” he said in a statement emailed by NBC Sports. “I compounded the error on Twitter, which I quickly corrected. To set the record straight, Ron and Nellie are Simone’s parents.”

When I read his apology on USA Today’s article, I had to wonder why he couldn’t make his apology sound more contrite and less like a duty that NBC required of him. After all, his tweet, which flamed the fire included the word NOT in all caps. (“They may be mom and dad but they are NOT her parents.) So yes, we did get an apology from him. But our hope is that others in the limelight will learn.

Radio News Anchor Robyn Cisar has called for all in the media world to step up to the plate after this incident. “Fellow writers and reporters,” she requests, “Do your job by taking the time necessary on each and every piece you write.” This includes researching not just the events, but also the people.

I think the adoption community does a pretty good job of tolerating mistakes by individuals and the media. What we can’t tolerate is outright slamming of any member of the adoption triad.

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Denalee Chapman

Denalee is an adoptive mother, a motivational speaker, a writer, and a lover of life. She and her husband have adventured through the hills and valleys of life to find that the highest highs and the lowest lows are equally fulfilling. Book Denalee to speak to your group, or find Denalee's writings, including her books on her website at

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