The age -dispute between nature versus nurture is still alive and well.

Do children learn behaviors and personality traits from their biology or their experiences? In raising both biological and adopted children I can tell you, it is definitely a mix. And not one you get to pick and choose from.

Adoption is NOT a co-parenting situation. But we all need a little help and advice from time to time. After all, it does take a village to raise a child. Seeking advice from your child’s birth parent can often open some windows into your child’s behavior and thought processes.

As an adoptive parent, if you know the birth family well, you will likely look at your child and see not only physical similarities, but also personality and attitude similarities. Sometimes desirable traits, sometimes not. It can be helpful, especially when the traits are ones you don’t personally want to foster, to understand where they came from.

No adoptive parent wants to seem like a failure. And asking advice from birth parents can sometimes feel like you are admitting that you don’t have all the answers. But do you? I certainly don’t, and I have found that asking advice from my son’s birth family can be reassuring and also has helped to foster a deeper relationship between us. Yes, acknowledging the first time that I “didn’t know what to do” felt awkward; I didn’t want his birth parents to think I was a bad parent. But in the end his birth family has helped answer or uncover many of his personality quirks.

When you ask someone their opinion they feel valued. And birth parents often feel like their role, once a baby is handed over to the adoptive parents, is no longer as important. By asking advice, or if they ever had similar situations to what your child is going through, drives home the birth parent’s importance in your life. It also can help reassure a birth parent who fears losing a connection with their child that they will always have a common bond.

My son’s birth dad, after hearing some of our son’s less desirable behaviors jokingly (and with a smirk) said to me, “My mom always said I would have one just like me. And you got him.” To be able to laugh with someone else who loves our child, and undersands him and all his faults, felt great. You should try it some time.