Nature vs. Nurture
I was reading a bit of this on the other thread, but I didn't want to hijacks hers, but I had to share this new info we just got.

So when we were "offered" Ty most of the other families at the agency would not be shown to M because her other son has a significant heart problem. I don't know the name of it, but it's in our records somewhere. It's a heart defect that is likely genetic, but they had already ultra sounded Ty, and he was OK. We had no problem with that. We came home with out beautiful kiddo, and as most of you know, DH was almost immediately put into the CICU in heart failure. They said it was viral and all this other stuff...but basically, there was no "reason" for it. When he was on the regular cardiac floor recoving from the di-fib surgery Dr. Neil came to see him and talked with us a little bit about a genetics study he was doing he was wondering if he would participate, even though it seemed like DH Cardiomyopothy was caused by a virus (mainly because DH was so young). It was a few blood draws and they would pay for parking and what not, so DH said sure...no biggie. That was 2 years ago.

We just got word that DH's DNA indicates that he was genetically a carrier for cardiomyopothy! They want to test his entire family to make sure it's a trait that's been passed on and not a mutation, but they are really excited about "finding" DH.

Isn't life weird? So many people turned down Ty because he "might" be a gentic carrier for heart problems. We said yes, and DH is a genetic carrier for heart stuff too...if we had a bio child instead of adopting, most likely they would be carriers as well...

Who knew all this junk? I mean to have his DNA broken down and be told, "Yes, genetically, there was no way you could avoid this." No "nurture" could have prevented this.

So even when you know, you don't know...honestly...Tyler was our "healthy" newborn. No exposure, nothing. Just this potential as a carrier for a heart defect. Matty was our "special needs" adoption. They are in exactly opposite places now. Matty is screening out of EI because he is above age level in everything. I've never seen a kid with the attention to detail and learning like him. Ty gets EI 3X per week and our next step if figuring out an IEP for preschool.

Honestly, so much of it all is a leap of faith. I think they let us say "yes and no" to all those things to make us feel like we have control. Really, just like with bio kids, you get what you get and then you nurture that child as best you can. Maybe someday we'll all know about our exact DNA, but till then, having a bio child is just as big a gamble as adopting for most people! We have no clue what we're made up of.

I guess what I want to say is I really don't there is a "vs" in all of it, and I find it interesting that this term is really only used with adoption...like we as adoptive parents are required to nuture them to overcome their adoptive genetics. What's saying their adoptive genetics or "nature" are so much worse than ours?
aclee...I agree with you 100%. Having a bio child doesn't always mean that things will be perfect. I was a healthy newborn only to turn diabetic at 22 months old. I often asked my mother and father if they wished I had never been born because of it. They always said NO. When my bio daughter was born, she had a hole in her heart, her thyroid was off from my medicine, and she was born a month early. She wasn't "perfect" but luckily, she ended up being perfect. She's currently in a research program for children with parents and siblings with Type 1 diabetes. It checks for the antibodies that show up before diabetes does. Every year, while we wait for the results, I feel sick that I could have subjected my daughter to this insidious disease. So far, she's been negative but it is a constant worry.

I struggled with the home study questions that asked about what we would accept. How do you know? It was definitely a leap of faith. When our son was presented to us, he also had a hole in his heart and was drug exposed. I kept asking my husband if we could handle it...he answered, "We handle all the health issues you have. How would it be different?" He was right. When our son was about 8 weeks old, it was discovered that he had a more serious heart defect....narrowing of his aorta. We were devastated. All these scary thoughts passed thru our minds. The agency even asked if we wanted to disrupt the adoption. Over my dead body!!!! But in the end, he's fine. No surgery, just a once a year check. He wasn't "perfect" initially and he's just great now.

My DH and I met with a group from our agency pre-adoption. None of these couples had children. Each couple wanted "perfect" and I tried to explain that "perfect" now doesn't always mean "perfect" later. Look at me. I have a ton of things wrong with me but was a healthy newborn. But sometimes, things that don't seem "perfect" at first are just that.

Chrissy
I think about those things too. If you laid out all the things that could possibly be passed on to mine and DH's bio children, it wouldn't look good. I suspect it's the same for most couples. I have a history of depression, Alzheimer's on both sides of my family, cancer, one of my DD's has congenital hypothyroidism (she was born with no thyroid gland) and a joint condition - she was in EI from birth-3 yrs, DH's mother's family has a history of addiction problems, we're both overweight. It's not pretty! But we have two beautiful, happy, healthy little girls with the result of those "bad" genes!

Kind of unrelated, but not a lot of families wanted to be shown for Caleb's situation because he was "gender unknown". That never made any sense to me. The only condition we knew about with him was his birthmom and a sibling have asthma, and yes, he developed asthma.
I wouldn't say it's a "vs" type issue more than an "and"....no one can deny genetics....so nature.....no one can deny that we are shaped by our families teachings so nurture.

I do find it extremely funny that since I brought L home....her facial expressions are 100% replicas of my mom at that age....mannerisms and tantrums too. Why is that? she did not come as a biological child.

It's all very interesting. Sometimes you don't know what you get to deal with....it's just straight up parenting. L has reactive airway disease and we battled it hard this winter....with June gloom, I've had to do the nebulizer every so often, but it's just part of life....I consider her every bit as healthy as the baby next door.

I was one of those "side effect" babies from the 1970s pill for nausea in pregnant women....low weight and heart murmer....medicine ended up being recalled or something, yet it corrected as I grew older....my last visit to the cardiologist was at age 12. I KNOW my parents wouldn't have traded me for the world :arrow:

you just never know.
The APs on A.com have me soooo spoiled. When I hear the things people outside of A.com say and think, well, just want to say you guys are great. It's just really nice to hear people trying to discuss, lern and understand.

I hope you don't mind if I throw a thought out there for this topic. It's just something I've been wondering about.

I wonder, when people are so adament about nurture being over nature, if it is more of a "need to control" issue for them?

I think you guys are right on the money. Whethr bio or adopted, you get what you get, and have to learn to deal with/live with it. Thanks to the OP. Your post brightened my day.

P.S. Please let me know if you would rather my question be moved to a separate thread. I don't want to distract/change the direction of your thread.
shadow, I think it's not necessarily a need to control as much as a need to feel like we matter. I know my 2 have things given to them that I cannot change--Flowergirl's tiny stature, Bubba's, ummm, creativity with the language (yeah, we'll go with that!). I just want to know that somehow, they're mine too.

I see that in the changes they made after living with us for a few months--but really, that might be nurture bringing out nature~

For me, it stems from a desire to see myself in my kids. And really, I think everyone feels the need for that connection. The trick is in the balance of desire vs. fact. My kids will always have their looks, IQ potential, predisposition for physical and mental health from the ones who were blessed to create them. They will never, ever look like me. But I can influence their choices, teach them my moral code (and that one may just be nature, too) and love them as hard as I can. Maybe their actions will make folks say, "oh, I can tell by your actions just who your mama and daddy are."

And I hope that will be a good thing!
Shadow, I've wondered some of the same kinds of things. I'm an AP and I guess it gets hard to have the birth mom referred to as "the REAL mom" or be the one that gets searched for and has a wonderful reunion and relationship with the child in so many peoples' minds and in so many stories. Sometimes the adoptive mom seems to be a sort of stand-in for the real mom until she (real mom) and the child can be reunited.

Don't get me wrong! Reunification can be a wonderful relationship! Birth moms are really moms, too. It's just that there does seem to be this "vs." instead of "and" when it comes to the nature/nurture issue, and the birth mom/adoptive mom relationship.

Adoptive parents often do take a huge leap of faith that seems to be so huge because they "choose" to do it. With being a bio parent there is an equal leap of faith but I think it is perhaps less visible. We (as humans) often like to think we have more control over our own biology or something. :evilgrin: I guess my thought about the leap of faith that defines being a parent is that sometimes it's all smoke and mirrors - we THINK we know this or that, and we THINK this is a guarantee or that is a sure bet, but...life is full of unexpected turns! There's always something out there waiting to jump up and scare you spitless. Especially where your kids are concerned! :eek:
This is an interesting subject for me lately. With DD1, she looks like me, acts like me ... is so much like me it's scary. When we spend time with her bmom, it's incredible to see how much more alike she is to her. She's a complete combo of the both of us -- most of it strong and healthy. It's like she's taken the good stuff from each of us and dumped the bad stuff. Totally a nature and nuture working together situation.

I can't wait to see DD2's personality in a couple of years. Her bmom and I are NOTHING alike. Both bmom and bdad (and their families) are musical, artistic, introverted ... no assertive, strong personalities to be found anywhere (our family is full of them - some good, some bad). DD2 could totally be the kiddo that says "I don't fit" in our family. Who knows ... it will be fun to watch her personality emerge!

As far as the genetic stuff, we have much better odds with our adopted kiddos being healthy than we would with bios. I am relieved that our genes aren't being passed to the next generation.
shadow riderer said...

I wonder, when people are so adament about nurture being over nature, if it is more of a "need to control" issue for them?



I think there is some need for control in a process that you have so very little control over as an AP. There is that positive "thought" process that you can just "nurture" all those negative biological things right out of them, so they will be "fine"...just as perfect and wonderful as one of your bio children would have been...

Well what's saying your bio child would have been so perfect? We're all flawed. Some of that you can "help" with good parenting and some of it you just can't.

I think nature and nurture go hand in hand really. You get what nature gives you and you nurture the heck out of it...which is the same you would do if they were your bio children. One doesn't truimph or one up the other...this isn't a boxing match where one will win over the other.

At least I don't think. Smile All I know for CERTAIN is that nature handed me two kiddos that are WAY cuter than I could have ever created!!
I think it's interesting in the Kismet sort of way that we ended up with our DD McKenzie. We are a very musical family. DH and I have both lived part of our lives as professional musicians. I'm an artist in many forms and our 13 yr old bioD is so gifted in the arts too. We end up with a child that loves music. She sings and dances and really pays attention to music. I could not have picked a child to fit better with us and she was a foster child.
The nuture part comes into play when we are able to see her talents and strengths and provide her with the opportunities that will enable her to excel.
I read this quote that said some famous guy was asked this question and i loved his response.

He said "What makes a rectangle? The length or the width?"

oh and btw I've thought about this and I think as far as genetics it's an even split

I probably would have had a more ahem "wholesome" pregnancy and had a child with a man who had a healthier lifestyle but I fully expect to nurture that bit out of the equation Smile
LOL Storm. Great quote!
Ahhh, the old nature versus nurture argument. It seems to go back and forth -- there's kind of a cycle to it. Forty years ago, the experts leaned toward nurture; then about twenty years ago, they started swinging toward nature, especially with all the advances in the field of genetics. It goes to and fro...

Whenever I read the nature vs. nurture debate, what always comes to mind is what I learned in my college genetics courses -- the interaction of the environment with the genotype...which is known as the phenotype. The example one of my professors used was this: if you take a pine tree and plant it in the desert, it will still be a pine tree...but it will be short instead of tall. The environment (the desert) is acting upon the genetic makeup of the tree (the genotype).

It is so easy for me to see both environment and biology interacting within my son. There are many facets of his personality that reflect both of his birth parents, yet there are just as many facets that come directly from his mom and dad. They are so intertwined that it would be difficult to sort them all out, what traits he inherited from who. It's almost like God took genes from all four of us and mixed them together...and our beautiful son was the result.
aclee said...


I think nature and nurture go hand in hand really. You get what nature gives you and you nurture the heck out of it...which is the same you would do if they were your bio children. One doesn't truimph or one up the other...this isn't a boxing match where one will win over the other.



I think you said that very well. I truely believe that a well-rounded, productive member of society adult is a combination of nature and nurture. And neither one can be denied as a factor. Of course many 'bad' adults are the results of bad (or no) parenting, but not every one. As parents we need to do our dardest to parent well the child we have to help them become the best adult they can be. But there are no guarantees. Whether you gave birth to the child or adopted them.

I have three kids none of whom are genetically related. I try hard to parent them the same, or at least fairly, but they have vastly different personalities. Which I believe they were born with. And that does lead to parenting one of them differently at times as his needs are different. But I am still trying to parent him to the best of my ability.

I am doing my dardest, but at the same time I worry every day that certain personality traits will land him in a lot of trouble as an adult (or sooner.) He almost got kicked off the bus and suspended from school the last week of kindergarten for something he did that wasn't dangerous but was certainly bad judgement. Does that make me a bad parent? It sure isn't something I have to worry about with my other two. Now I am parenting one of 'those' kids that I used to think 'Where the heck are the parents?' when a particular child was always getting into trouble. The thing is, the intesity of his behaviors is also what can make him a true joy at times. When he is being good. I am just trying to get him to use his 'intesity' for good, not bad more often. Smile

Parenting, either bio or adopted, is a huge leap of faith. Period. There is no guarantee that if I gave birth to another child, he or she wouldn't be as challanging as the child I already have. All you can do is love them and parent them the best you can. And pray!
Oh how I wish there were more people in the world like you guys.

Raven, that was perfect. It describes exactly how I feel at times, a pine tree in the desert, or a cactus in the pine forest. I think it's come more with age than anything else, but I like to think I can pick the best parts of both AFam and BFam, and leave the parts I don't like behind?
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