Throughout my life as an adoptee, I’ve always internally debated the dichotomy of adoption: am I the way that I am because of who I came from (nature), or because of who (and how) I was raised (nurture)? Do my interests and characteristics come from inherited traits, or environmental factors?
Growing up, and throughout my post-secondary years when I was studying psychology, I was convinced that nurture was the winner of this debate. I truly believed that who I was had nothing to do with where I can from, and that my personality, interests, and skills were all as a direct result of my upbringing, and more specifically, who raised me.
But when I reunited with my biological father, my perspective was forever changed. As he spoke about his interests, his personality traits, and his skills, my eyes opened to the possibility of genetic inheritance. He spoke with the same eagerness and enthusiasm as I did. His passion for music, art, and culture mirrored my own, and his personality flaws mimicked mine.
The other day I had a parent-teacher interview with my daughter’s first grade teacher, and my eyes were once again opened to the reality of the effects of nature. The comments that they made about her personality – that she was artistic, creative, chatty, and enthusiastic about connecting with others and about expressing her creativity through music, art and dance – made me realize that she had inherited the same traits that I had inherited.
Now that I have my own biological children, I am constantly in awe of the ways in which they begin to develop into little versions of my husband and I. And while I still believe that the way that I was raised had a huge impact on who I am, I’m seeing more and more that nature has its place as well.
I see the nature vs nurture debate in a new light now – I think for me, my passion for the arts, my desire to express my creativity, and my inability to do math and science stem from my genetic-making, and the way that I respond to my surroundings, my desire to succeed, to follow my dreams, to believe that I can achieve anything, stems from the lessons and love that I’ve received from the parents who raised me.
As I ponder this dichotomy, I am reminded of the most beautiful poem on the subject of nature vs nurture and adoption – Legacy of An Adopted Child. This poem speaks so perfectly to me – what do you think of it?