Monday, November 5, 2012

The Nature vs. Nurture Argument And Your Ukrainian Adopted Child

I go back and forth on this one. My Ukrainian adopted son says
and does things that remind me not only of myself and my husband,
but of my own parents! Still, his personality and character is
all his own.

As you can see with this article, it is not only adoptive parents
that think about this nature vs nurture debate.


Posted by Dawn at Creating a Family

Before I had kids, I was a nurturist all the way. I believed that
the environment I created for my children would determine how
they "turned out". Oh sure, I would have acknowledged that there
might be variations, but I figured these would be variations on
the same theme. Since I was going to be the perfect mother, I
would, of course, create the perfect environment for child

Our home would be an intellectual and artistic haven-
stimulating, but not over the top. I would involve my well
behaved progeny in carefully selected intellectual, athletic, and
artistic endeavors, while leaving plenty of unstructured time for
them to ponder the fate of dandelion puffs. I would fill our
house with books, educational toys (made of wood-expensive wood),
and nutritious food. Oh sure, I'd indulge them occasionally with
some cheap, plastic, easily broken, mind rotting toy and a box or
two of Fifth Avenue hyped, sugar laden cereal to keep them from
feeling deprived when they compared notes with their friends, but
since they would only watch the occasional PBS TV show, they
would be protected from the dirty touch of advertising and would
be more than satisfied by mom-approved toys and cereals. Yes sir,
I was a nurturist all the way because I so wanted to believe that
I was in control.

Now that I'm in the uncontrolled midst of parenting four very
very different kids, I realize that control is an illusion, and
I'm not sure where I stand on the nature vs. nurture debate. My
family is a mix of children by birth and adoption spread out over
ten years and raised in the same house by the same parents. The
nurture argument would say my kids would be similar since their
environment was similar. The nature argument would say that my
biologically related kids would be more alike than the adopted
child. Neither of these arguments is correct in my family. I
think that may be why I am so fascinated with the nature vs.
nurture argument.

An advantage of hosting a radio show is that I get to schedule
and talk with the top experts in the subjects I find fascinating,
and I've loved both of the shows we've done on the relative
influences of biology and environment. I'm intrigued by the
"famous" twin studies, so on one show (Nature vs. Nurture/
Genetics vs. Environment) our guests were the directors of two of
the leading longitudinal twin studies in the US. The guests on
the other show (Is Genetics or the Environment Most Important in
Determining Who Our Kids Will Be?) represented two of the leading
adoption studies in the US and also were both involved in twin
research, as well. I was like a middle school girl with a crush
on both shows.

Research findings on the influence of genetics and environment
are fascinating. Eerie similarities between identical twins
reared apart exist, but their research doesn't support a genetic
vice grip on how we turn out. Some things, such as physical
appearance, ADHD, and obesity appear to be highly controlled by
genes. But most other things, such as IQ and personality, have
only a moderate genetic connection. And some things, such as
social attitudes (I think this means things like liberal vs.
conservative, generosity, etc.), job satisfaction, how readily we
fall in love, and our sense of humor, seem to be influenced very
little by genetics.

Determining the relative influence of genes and environment is
particularly hard in real life, in real families, because each
child in a family has a unique environment. Although my kids have
been raised by the same parents in the same home, their
environments have differed since their place in the family, life
experiences, talents and personality are different. For example,
our eldest was burdened and blessed with three younger siblings
throughout most of her life, while our youngest experienced quite
different burdens and blessings by having three older siblings.
One son is a gifted student, the other struggles. They are spaced
out by ten years, so arguably they haven't really had the same
parents since we were different parent when our eldest was born
than we were ten years later when our youngest arrived. Also, as
one of the experts pointed out, each child changes their
environment and our parenting by being who they are.

Four kids and more than a few years later, I'm far less certain
of most things in life and all things in parenting. I quickly
figured out that I wasn't cut out to be a nurturist, since that
put way too much pressure on me and drained the fun right out of
parenting. Jumping ship to the naturist side had some appeal
since I wouldn't be held responsible if my children's fate was
predetermined by the arbitrary mixing of DNA. This was reassuring
since I was far fromthe perfect parent. (I had an inkling of this
my first week of parenthood, when I decided that baths were too
traumatic for us both, and since we wiped her bottom and face
regularly, they were unnecessary.) Despite the allure of passing
the buck to the genetic whims of nature, however, I couldn't
ignore the similarities in my kids-both by birth and
adoption-that seemed to have an environmental connection.

Right now in my parenting journey I have replaced "versus" with
"and" in the nature vs. nurture debate. It seems to me that we
are all a product of both our genes and our environment, and that
we have a great deal of control over our environment. I recently
read a quote by a psychologist that researched in this field.
When asked if nature or nurture contributed more to a
personality, he responded, "Which contributes more to the area of
a rectangle, its length or its width?" This is strangely
reassuring to me now.

Adoption Services International unites loving US families with
Ukrainian children. We provide a unique combination of
professional, individualized, quality service (including a
maximum guaranteed adoption fee), personal adoption experience,
affordable local cost and 20 years Ukrainian experience.

If you or someone you love would like to expand your family,
provide a permanent home for a needy orphaned child, welcome a
sibling for an existing child or discover an alternative for
infertility treatments - contact us to learn more about Ukrainian
adoption, Adoption Services International can help.


Upcoming Events:

Ukrainian Adoption 101:

Conversation On International Adoption: Opportunity, Process,
Concerns and Questions

Monday, November 12, 2012 6:00-7:00PM

Location: Califon Book Store: 72 Main Street, Califon, New Jersey

Ukrainian Adoption Information Meeting

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:00-8:00PM

Location: Wellness Rocks: 133 Rupell Road, Clinton, New Jersey

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