Nature vs nurture and adoption

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Nancy, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have been listening to the audiobook Identical Strangers. The book is a first hand account of twin 35 year old women who were both adopted into seperate families. A well known, well respected, and now defunct adoption agency in NYC, decided to seperate twins and place them into different adoptive homes to study the nature vs nurture question. This study was backed by the CDC and has been written about in many medical/psychological journals and books. It provides a great deal of information regarding the inherited traits of schizophrenia along with other mental disorders. It was long thought that the most comprehensive and valid findings on behavior could be observed only through twins raised in different environments. I guess it was too much to resist for the scientific community.

    Although this study is highly unethical and would be illegal today, it is still considered to be one of the most comprehensive studies of this sort. There have been many accounts of twins and even triplets who were unknowingly included in this study who are just now finding out they were seperated from their siblings and have gone on to findtheir siblings and realize that even though they were raised in different environments, they were remarkably similar and suffered from the same mental disorders.

    I can't tell you how this book has impacted me as an adoptive mom. It has taught me more about my difficult child than anything else I have read or heard about in the past sixteen years. After listening to the accounts of these seperated twins it is so apparent that environment had very little to do with what my difficult child has had to struggle with all these years.

    I recommend this book to anyone who who has ever struggled with the nature/nurture issue.

  2. Star*

    Star* call 911


    Very interesting. I think I WILL get this one. Thank you for sharing.
  3. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    Probably slightly off topic - but my difficult child saw her bio dad 6 times in seven years (never formed a realtionship and now he's gone thank G**, he was an a**) but she carries traits and characteristics that were him to a T. She never spent enough time to pick up on his anger, but she has every last bit of it - even some mannerisms as well. Very odd to me, always has been - I found your post very interesting, thanks!
  4. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Not off topic at all daralex. The interesting thing about this experiment is that it applies to all human behavior and explains many of our traits. It was striking how similar these siblings were to each other even though they didn't even know each other existed. Down to how they held their heads or what they named their children or the same issues they struggled with and how they coped. The parallel can be drawn to children and their biological parents. It was the study that convincingly determined that a predisposition to bipolar was inherited.

    The book gives a lot of statistics, names many researchers inthe field, and is filled with so much information it's difficult to take in all at once. I'm glad I'm listening to the audiobook because I stop it and jot down things that I want to research further. Another book mentioned in this book is Nature's Thumbprint, written by one of the scientists who conducted the twins study. I ordered that book also and will start it as soon as I am finished with this one.

  5. Penta

    Penta New Member

    My girl is just like her mother, both in physical looks, personality, gestures and mannerisms. She also went through a horrible young adolescence like her mother. Funny thing, though, her mother (my adopted daughter) died when my girl was 4 years old!

    People who knew my daughter can't get over how much my girl is like her mother as a young adult. It's kind of eerie sometimes.

    Almost all the traits my girl has she inherited from the mother she barely knew.

    I always thought nurture could overcome nature, but I have learned in my older age that is not so. Inherited traits sometimes are stronger.
  6. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Interesting Nancy. We often wonder about that, not just with difficult child but easy child as well.
  7. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    I don't know Nancy - this one may hit too close to home for me. Maybe in a few years.......
  8. Calista

    Calista New Member

    I've always kinda been on the nurture side of things because nurture is generally what triggers the diseases we are predisposed to. I will say this. I was not raised with my father or any of his other children. However, I have spent time with them over the years and it is remarkable how much my younger half-sister I are alike. Also, my little easy child is so much like my father it's scary. This has always been such an interesting topic.
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Linda, I figured you would be hot or cold on this, depending on your frame of mind and what's going on right now. It will hit very close to home for you and perhaps in a few years it will help in some way make sense of the twins. It isn't a light reading novel. It is more a scientific study journal article with a few human interest stories for fluff. For me it's been so enlightening, even though it seems like I should have known all this.

  10. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    We who have adopted children soooooo want to make a difference for them. I pray that all of our interventions will have an impact on the nature of difficult child, but I'm not so sure....
  11. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    When I was younger I really thought (and was taught) that if a child had a stable home, good parents, education, love, structure, a moral code of ethics that they would just grow up to be decent human beings. (I can hear everyone snickering about this absurdity)
    I really ignored my mother's "look to the family to see what a person is like". Which actually translates into genetics. I didn't want to believe I didn't have the ability to control my own life and raise wonderful children.
    Certainly, I see now, how the dye is cast at birth with life experiences smoothing or roughening the outer edges of a personality. We know no one who is as affected as difficult child in either family. He got the worst of both genetic sides.
    My easy child is genetic and physically like me. Since he was 6months old, I could tell you what he was thinking because our circuits are so similar. difficult child, I have learned how he thinks and it is truthfully very different. It's like two opposing lines. Due to environment though, I think(very unscientific) both will get to the same point in life but by very different roads.
    Environment is the same for 2 children but if their circuitry or thinking processes are different, the reactions and behaviors would be different. I have seen habits and behaviors in difficult child that go back to the grandparents. No way are they learned.
    At least this is how it would seem to me. I will be curious to read this book but I'm pretty sure I am on board with the thinking.
  12. PersonalEnigma

    PersonalEnigma New Member

    I always have felt that genetics is a huge part of what makes our kids tick. I guess from breeding horses I have seen the genetic characteristics that pass on quite a bit. My difficult child is SO much like his dad at this age. The good thing about this is that despite everything my huby turned out very well. I just pray that difficult child doesn't have to go through the same stuff that husband did to get to this stage (alcohol, drug and a few botched suicide attempts...).
  13. howlongto18

    howlongto18 New Member

    I have struggled here. I have one adopted (difficult child) and one home grown. It's tough to get over the self doubt sometimes. Am I loving them both the same? My little one is so much easier to love since he let's me love him. I sometimes think he was sent to me just so that I wouldn't feel like a failure. We adopted Juan Carlos at age two, and there is definitely something to the bond that develops in the early years... not necessarily genetic, but a trust thing. We have bonded, but it's been work to do it. Toddler adoption is especially hard because you are trying to gain trust from a child who lacks the ability to reason, and who is also just stepping out and discovering how to be independant. Juan Carlos just reminds me of a mini version of your stereotypical abusive husband. Everything is someone else's fault, can't take any form of punishment or criticism, will hit and scream and blame and then is filled with empty promises and overly cuddly, doting and emotional. I hope so much for him that he can learn to control it because I have nightmares of what his life could turn into. His good side is so fabulous I wish I could lasso it and hold it captive... it's always fleeting. I would love to meet his bio family. I will never know who his bio dad is, I'm not sure if I could find his bio mom and his five half siblings in Guatemala. Even then, the mental illness could be on the mystery dad's side. Likely possibility because of his behavior.

    I think it is both nature and nurture. You can't love someone out of mental illness. That's been the hardest lesson to learn.