At Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families, we are big believers in the power of racial and cultural mirrors. Aside from our camp counselors, presenters, and adult adoptees—we know many of you are seeking out representation in the movies you watch, the books you read, and the people you connect with in your community.
The Olympic games have been a fun way to celebrate the people who share an identity with our kids. There’s no shortage of inspiration!
Here are some of the Olympians we’ve been cheering for!
You know we have to start with Simone Biles! What an incredible example of someone who made a difficult decision to prioritize their own mental and physical health. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk with our kids about making difficult choices, how to filter out the voices of the critics, and of course #blackgirlmagic. Simone was adopted and raised by her grandparents after spending time in foster care.
We are proud to share that Olympic swimmer Luis Martinez of Guatemala was a presenter at Latin American Heritage Camp in 2019, working directly with our campers in the pool! Luis shares this important message: “I learned that it doesn’t matter what happens at the end. It’s just swimming and there’s more to life. If you truly enjoy what you do, the results will come.”
Yul Moldauer, a Korean adoptee from Colorado, is a seven-time NCAA individual champion at Oklahoma, four-time All-American and world championship medalist in gymnastics, who is competing in Tokyo. The Denver Post recently covered Yul and his experiences growing up in a predominantly white community, and how he has challenged anti-Asian racism. In that article they share, “He and gymnastics teammate Isaac Xiong, a Hmong American from Laos, were two of the only people of color in their third-grade class. One day at school, their teacher asked the entire class, “Who are the outliers in this room?” A handful of students pointed at Moldauer and Xiong.” Read the article for more on Yul Moldauer!
Team USA’s newest diver (and adoptee!) Jordan Windle qualified for the Olympics with a second-place finish in the 10-meter event at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Jun. 12. Born in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Windle was adopted in 2000. He participated in a campaign about being a different race from his father and having two fathers. He also went around to schools reading the book, “An Orphan No More: The True Story of a Boy: Chapter One” that he co-authored with his dad, which is focused on themes of acceptance and the authenticity of our families. He is the first diver of Cambodian descent from any country to qualify for the Olympics.
For more Black Girl Magic, check out Simone Manuel, who was the first Black athlete to win an individual gold medal in swimming. She has been noticed for more than her skills in the pool. She is an advocate for athlete’s rights and diversifying the sport. Manuel has been vocal about her disappointment that a swim cap made by a Black-owned business and designed to protect Black swimmers’ hair, was banned.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history, winning the Philippines’ first gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The Philippines had been trying to reach the podium’s top spot for nearly 100 years: It sent its first Olympic delegation to Paris for the 1924 Games.
Congratulations to Kendra “Keni” Harrison, a transracial adoptee, who won the silver medal in the 100 meter hurdles in Tokyo! In 2016, Harrison became the world record holder in the women’s 100-meter hurdles after breaking the previous record that was set 28 years earlier.
Let us know which Olympians are inspiring you and your kids! Who did we miss? Tell us in the comments of our blog!
Love this synopsis Pam!!! I have been pointing out each of these athletes and some of their stories along the way to Suntali but I didn’t capture the totality like you did. It has been the most emotional and inspiring Olympics that I can recall. GBH – The sight of Simone brings me to tears. Thanks so much!!!
I think another great story was Luis Grijalva a DACA immigrant who was granted the possibility to travel to Tokio to represent his birth country Guatemala. He said he ran for all the DACA “dreamers”. Luis lives in Arizona.