Walk Alike, Talk Alike

Nature vs. Nurture

Dreena Melea Tischler April 29, 2014
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This is where I will officially cross the line and some of you will begin to think/realize I am crazy. Yesterday at dinner, the Blitz (age 2) had a dinner-time breakdown when he thought I was getting stuff onto his plate too slowly. To my older children I said, “Isn’t that sweet? He looks and sounds exactly like The Captain used to.”

My children did not think the loud, dramatic wailing was cute. Not at all. Nor did The Blitz.

I am still so mesmerized and amazed by how alike our three little ones are. It is my first time to raise siblings, and I just did not realize before how much of “who we are” is apparently encoded in our DNA. It’s uncanny.

As an adoptive parent of five, I tend to notice all the ways in which our children are like Dear Hubby and me. My two older daughters sound identical to each other and to me. People mix us up on the phone all the time. In video clips, we all have to sit around and say, “Who’s talking? Is that Mom, or Pepper? Is it Pepper or Sunshine?”

I have a friend with four birth daughters and adopted twin daughters. I don’t see them often, and the last time I did, I was shocked to see one of the twins sulking with the exact same expression the older girls had used as preschoolers. There are definitely things kids pick up from the environment.

This all begs the question for me: How much input do I really have on my kids’ future? All of my children are from families with a history of teen pregnancy; will my kids follow suit even though they’ve been raised in a totally different environment? What about depression, addiction, and other social issues that are part of their family history?

Empirical studies have not really been done on these types of adoption issues. The most comprehensive studies have been a part of the enormous “twin study” umbrella, but even those don’t really answer these worries. I’m betting I am not alone in these concerns.

In the end, I am trusting in the “nurture” aspect of the “nature vs. nurture” debate. I am trusting that our social environment, our close connection to our kids, our access to health care (both mental and physical), and our family system will help them overcome some of the obstacles their birth kin had to hurdle. And if I’m wrong, then I will trust that we are equipped to love and guide them through these issues.

What do you think?

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Dreena Melea Tischler

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