I was raised to believe that only my looks and genetic factors came from my biological family. I was brought up knowing all I am and will be is based on my adoptive parents and how they raised me. It seemed to make sense at the time. I mean, after all, I was a baby when I was adopted, so they literally taught me everything I know. I just knew that nurture was everything until I realized it wasn’t.
Recently, I reunited with my birth family. I was quite surprised to learn that we had so much in common. My adoption papers said that my birth parents loved the outdoors. I always thought that meant they liked to go camping. I do not…at all. But that’s not what it was referring to. It really spoke to their love of the beach and being on the water. That fits me perfectly. I live in a different part of the state, and yet, I live ten minutes from the beach. I also married my husband on our boat in the Gulf of Mexico.
The women in my biological family are all very strong-willed and outspoken, just like me. I share my sisters’ love of music and ability to write. My oldest sister and I share the same parenting style. It’s more than just what relative’s nose I have or how tall I’ll be. There is so much history, more that transfers during birth than just DNA. There is a history that I always believed was insignificant.
I think I understand the reason I was raised to believe in nurture over nature. To my adoptive parents, I was their child, all theirs. They wanted or needed separation between me and my birth family. In their minds, it was necessary to trivialize that connection. Maybe my parents really thought that a few genetic markers were all that we shared.
Either way, it is not and was not their place to choose a side in regard to what they taught me. Birth and adoptive families have bias whether they mean to or not. Both want to believe their influence is greater. The truth is, nature and nurture play equal roles in who we are. Really though, that’s not the most important part.
We can be given traits, hobbies, interests, skills, and more from both sides. What is important is what we choose to do with what we have been given. Adoptees are whole people. They need all of the pieces of themselves from both families. They deserve all the pieces. I hope one day, we live in a society where adoptive families don’t feel threatened by biological ones. I wish birth parents didn’t ever feel regret or shame. Of all the things both sides can learn from each other, this issue should be left to the adoptees.
The nature vs nurture debate has been around for a long time, and it will continue to be argued by many. It’s important to allow the right people with the right information to weigh-in on the subject.
Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.