Rick Reilly, Collin Kaepernick, Adoptees and Birth Mothers

Inspired by this column that came out during Super Bowl week:

Summary: as football fans already know, Colin Kaepernick, star quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, is adopted. His birth mother is white, his biological father is black, and he was raised by a white couple that he seems to adore.

He has never had any contact with his biological parents, and doesn’t seem to have any interest in doing so. I don’t know why, and he hasn’t seen any need to explain why.

Sportswriter Rick Reilly has an adopted daughter who was born in Korea. He encouraged and helped his daughter to find her birth mother in Korea, and the reunion seems to have gone very well.

Consequently, Reilly feels eminently qualified to hector and lecture Kaepernick on his duty to find and reunite with his birth mother- something Kaepernick has no real desire to do.

Aren’t you at least CURIOUS, Reilly persists? Kaepernick simply says, “No,” and wants to leave it at that.

Now, I will say two things before I go any further:

  1. I’ve ALWAYS thought Rick Reilly was an asshole who’s neither as funny nor as insightful as he imagines.

  2. I am the adoptive father of a 9 year old boy.

So, either or both of those things may make me utterly biased or excessively prejudiced against Reilly’s argument. Now that I’ve made this disclaimer, on to my point:

Who the hell is Rick Reilly, or ANYBODY, to tell an adopted child how he/she should feel about his parents, adoptive OR natural?

I’ve gotten to meet a lot of adopted kids, a lot of adoptive parents, and a fair number of women who’ve given up children for adoption, and what I’ve learned is… they’re ALL different. Some birth mothers never stop thinking about the babies they gave away, and some rarely give their babies a second thought. Some adopted kids are obsessed with finding their “real” mothers, and will spend years searching for them; others say, matter-of-factly, “The people who raised me are my parents. End of story.” Some adopted kids who DO meet their birth mothers form extremely close bonds with them; others meet a few times, and then move on, having found some kind of closure. NONE of those people is typical or “normal,” and none has a duty to show emotions he/she doesn’t really feel.

My son, so far, hasn’t expressed any feelings about adoption. He KNOWS he has a birth mother somewhere in West Texas, but doesn’t seem to think about her much. We send her letters and photos from time to time, but she hasn’t tried to contact us. If, at some point, my son ever DOES want to meet her, it won’t bother me at all. (And, apparently, Colin Kaepernick’s adoptive parents have no objection to Colin meeting HIS birth mother.)

I’ve never met Colin Kaepernick, and only know of him what I’ve seen on TV and read in the sports pages. I have no idea how he feels, deep down, about his birth mother. If he SAYS he has no interest in meeting her, I’m inclined to take his word for it. Regardless, it’s absolutely NONE OF MY BUSINESS what he feels or whether he ever chooses to meet her.

And it’s none of Rick Reilly’s business, either.

Normally, when Rick Reilly says or rights something stupid (which is constantly), I ignore him. This time, he REALLY needs to be told, “Shut the f— up. And THIS time, I really mean it. You’re not Dear Abby and nobody asked for your familial advice. Apologize to Colin Kaepernick and NEVER try to play shrink with people you don’t know again.”

WRITES something stupid. Sigh… I used to be a good speller! Honest!

Your post makes sense to me. Reilly must have some issues HE isn’t talking about, to behave like that. One shouldn’t try to antagonize large football players either. They are good at flattening people when they feel the need.

This sums up my view. It pretty much applies to most situations. Just because YOU had one particular experience, doesn’t make it universal. Reilly is an ass.

Dear Rick Reilly:

Please keep your mouth shut about things that are none of your business.


Not to mention a rich celebrity has a good reason to avoid accumulating more potentially money-grubbing, guilt-tripping people in his life.

I surrendered my child as a teenager, she found me over 10 yrs ago and we’ve had a picture perfect reunion.

But I feel exactly as you do. How dare he hector someone over something so personal. He should be told to,‘Pond Salt!’ when next he asks.

The dynamics of individual surrendering mothers, individual adoptees, and individual adoptive parents are so numerous and varied it is utter foolishness to project one’s own experience onto all others. He’s being idiotic, and should be taken aside by his bosses and told to knock it off.

Can’t the athlete just refuse to be interviewed by this idiot?

Most likely age for adopted children to seek their birth parents is their late twenties. By then they are usually their own people maturitywise. And commonly out of the parental home, removed from from the sense of obligation to the adopters, real or imagined, that so many adopted children speak of. It is often a time to think of marrying and having their own children. They can begin to see the sacrifice of the birth parent in a different light. They often want answers to genetic concerns they may have, as they formulate their futures.

A surrendering parent goes through life never knowing if they hit a home run or a foul ball. I had an adopted friend who was so inspired by my reunion, seeing what it meant to me, he pursued locating his birthmother, though having previously been 100% uninterested. He returned from meeting her, glad he’d done so, but certain he had won the parenting lottery, with no interest in seeing her further.

Adoption reunions can be both difficult and disappointing, motivations are sometimes disguised or initially unrecognized, by each person in the extended families of all parties involved. They can be mine fields for the unbalanced and are treacherous for even the emotionally heathy. It is a difficult enough for those involved to navigate their way through. It is no place for a meddling outsider to invade, in my opinion.

Hope the sportscaster is getting heaps on their web site or twitter or whatever. I certainly hope you are expressing your righteous disgust somewhere that will do more good than just here!

Rick Reilly’s issue is that he’s an asshole.

When I saw the summary of the column I thought it was incredibly insensitive. When I saw that Reilly was speaking about his own daughter’s experience I didn’t think it was so bad, but it’s still none of his business.

I’d never heard of Rick Reilly until your post, but now I know he’s a jackass. Ignorance fought. :smiley:

Im adopted and so is one of my siblings. I also knew a.couple adopted kids. I agree that each adoption has some different variables to it however from my own experience and those I know, I feel like there definately is some type of bond between a birth family and birth child. I dont even know reilly and it sounds like you pretty much despise the man so its possible some of that is spilling over to your assesment of what he said. Again, I agree that its a very personal issue loaded with emotion so its insensitive for the sportsxaster to ask him about it. I think he feels like it would go equally well for the ballplayer, and thats why hes encouraging him Oftentimes, actualy its very common as another poster wrote above,for adoptive kids to feel guilty to find their birth family,out of fear of hurting adoptive parents. Some adoptive parents can be defensive without realizing it. And that can add to a kid feeling obligated not to talk about their birthparents as much as they want to. Or they may not show interest they do have in birthparents for fear of hurting adoptive parents.made worse if adoptive parent (often not aware they are doing so) gives impression that they want the kid to stay loyal to adoptive family.and inhibits them from really expresing how much they are interested and even miss their birthparents

While its true there are some.variables to each adoption, there r also things that are fairly universal. In your post you wrote how “some birthmoms hardly stop thinking about their birthchild and some rarely even give them a second thought”…i realize your writing this from the perspective of an adoptive parent, which will perhaps be colored a bit different perhaps than my experience as the birth child. The vast majority of birthmoms dont simply deliver their child and then not give them a second thought. This is jist completely oblivious and insensitove to the reality of a mom giving her baby away. I uswd to belong also to an adoption forum, pretty much all the birthmoms spoke of the painful process they went thru, and mourning their lost child thru their lives. They talked about being aware and remembering their child on birthday, and other important milestones like first day odf kindergarten, sweet sixteen etc. I think sometimes adoptive parents dont want to acknowledge the tie between the child and birth family,although the child loves their adoptive parents very much,its very common for birthchildren to have a feeling of missing birthparents and think about them more than you may realize. Its not exactly the same for all, but most adoptees do have these feelings to a significant degree but may not feel free to express them if the adoptive parents give the impression the child shouldnt show interest. I think thats why most kids wait til theyre older to find a birthparent,bc its not uncommon for adoptive parents to feel defensive to some degree

First, Rick Reilly is an ass. A smug, not-as-funny-as-he-thinks-he-is ass. This is nobody’s business but Kaepernick’s. Reilly should have kept his opinions to himself.

I read somewhere that his real mother is trying to get together and have a relationship with Kaepernick now. Gee, what a surprise. Maybe she needs new tires for her car. Or her trailer. I’m sure dear old dad will be coming out too to clamp his claws into his son, even though neither one of the biological parents had anything to do with raising him.

I hope Kaepernick keeps his adoptive parents front and center during his successful football career, and we hear nothing about the biological parents.

In my experience the adopted parents who have been counselled to be open about how their family came to be, is part, I think, of what gets the child feeling overly obligated to their adopted parents. If they then experience a feeling to know more about the birth parents they can feel like they are betraying the people whom they feel so obligated to. Even if the adoptive parents are terribly evolved and open toward the birth parents sacrifice, speaking of it, for some children they only hear an implied obligation to another who has sacrificed for them. These can produce confusing and conflicting feelings in young people. They feel an unspoken obligation, an indebtedness, a loyalty, and it can really confuse them in regards to why they want to find/avoid a birth parent.

Like most things in life it’s a double edged sword.

Stinkfish, your advice stinks like fish…so it didnt occur to you that a mom who gives her baby up, is always their mom and has a deep bond with their child? Its apparent you know nothing about what adoption really involves. The birthmom is not giving away a laptop,or a used car,…she is giving away her child. Most birthmoms go thru a long period of mourning for that child. Some teen moms are coerced into giving their child away at a time they are still a kid themselves and when they get older, they feel a.deep need to have some contact. Most people arent adopted so they dont understand it. I also think its odd that the sportsplayer feels like he would be commiting “treason” if he were to so much as speak to his birthmom. The fact he told a friend he felt like he would be guilty of treason makes me think his adoptive parents somehow instilled that idea in hom. If they were encouraging and open for hom to show any interest in his birthmom, he wouldnt feel it is treason to talk to her

You don’t know the whole story either. Yes, some mothers are very regretful of giving a child away, but some don’t think about the child. Do you think mothers who don’t care about what happened to the little one they put up for adoption are going to join a support group on the Internet just to tell everyone how they don’t give a shit? No.

Your experience is just that… Yours. It doesn’t make the OP wrong, or you right. It just means it is nobody’s business but the child’s (which in this case is Kaepernick). In my opinion, the birth parents don’t even count. They gave up any right to have their feelings addressed at all once they signed the papers. Too bad if your child (now famous) doesn’t want to have a family reunion,

The OP was stating a range of experience that included indifference. There was nothing oblivious or insensitive about his post IMO.

That’s a little harsh, don’t you think? Whether you agree with his biological mother’s decision to try to contact him or not, implying that she is a) trailer trash and b) out for a quick buck is no better than Reilly pestering Kaepernick to reconnect.

Read my reply to you above. Or if the tears in your eyes prevent you to, come back later and read it.

But let’s be clear. The birth parents have NO rights here, IMHO, unless things were set up long before the child was adopted. if that’s the case, then Reilly isn’t writing his advice column and you aren’t in here telling us all about the sad mothers that deserve to know the children they gave up for adoption.

I have no doubt that there are many women that didn’t want to give their kid up for adoption, and want to know how the child is doing. But unless the child initiates the reunion proceedings, the birth parents should butt out. If Kaepernick was in
Prison, and not a championship caliber QB, do you think mom would be crawling naked through glass to see him? Or better yet, if the 49ers didn’t make the SB, would any of us even know he was adopted? The media wants to see this reunion more than Colin does. Good for him if he sticks to his own principles and feelings and decides “you know what? You didn’t raise me… These fine people over here did. I call them mom and dad.”

Grow up, and get the idea that your experience is the only one that matters. If Colin Kaepernick wants to meet his birth parents, I hope he does, away front the reporters and cameras that want to make this into a story, which it isn’t.

No, I don’t think it’s harsh. The story I read implied that very heavily. However, for the sake of this thread, and the fact I don’t have a cite, I will retract my comment about the trailer and the quick buck. But remember, this is a person who up until recently was a nobody, and now she is being interviewed. It makes me wonder. The biggest thing I wonder is since Kaepernick is over 21 (or 18 if that’s the legal age), has she tried to meet him before? Did she reach out to him when he was in college? I don’t know.

I also don’t care. It’s none of our business. If Colin wants or doesn’t want to meet her, that’s his call, and his only. I hate it when people feel the need to give someone else advice in public. If Reilly told Colin that story in a one on one conversation that wasn’t printed, fine. But to print that opinion piece about how someone else is living their life is out of bounds.

Its true reilly should have talked privately if at all, with that ballplayer,not on publicly. However at least his intent seemed to be good, his daughter rsally benefitted from being able to meet with her birthmom so he felt kapner could also benefit. Misguided but no harmful intent. Stinkpot otoh doesnt seem to have a good intent, you portray a mom you know nothing about and portray her as trailer trash trying to get money. Maybe you dont understand that like most birthmoms she has some type of bond. All you seem to unxerstand is money, you are talking about things you know little to nothin about and drawing stereotypes on that