Adoption has a huge impact on many peoples’ lives making them fulfilled, joyful, and sometimes indescribable. Both on the biological side of adoption and on the adoptive both sides want to make sure they have a lasting impact on their child. In my professional and personal adoption experience, I have learned, watched, become educated and experienced what I have formulated as my own opinion.
Both birth mothers and adoptive families, along with society has always asked me which factor weighs more: nature or nurture. Birth mothers are interested because they want to make sure their baby will have some of their traits, behaviors and genetics. Adoptive families want to know that their parenting will be reflected in their adopted child, they want to matter and they want their efforts to matter.
In my experience, life changed the day I met my birth mother. When I was on my reunification journey, I believed that when I found my birth mother, I would find more about myself. As an adoption professional I have been asked countless times “Do you believe in nature or nurture?” After meeting my mother and getting to know her, my professional opinion is identical to my personal opinion, “both.”
In my opinion, nature is in your genes, your appearance, your temperament, your preferences, your talents, your affect and lastly your internal drive. Nurture represents what you do with all of these attributes and characteristics. An “extreme” example of nature and nurture would be training a killer whale. You cannot raise a killer whale to have purple eyes, speak with a high voice, run a marathon, or play a violin. However, you can raise a killer whale to learn tricks, eat a specific diet, and interact differently with others. Nature develops the blueprint and nurture shapes and fine tunes the outcome.
I have more preferential similarities with my biological family in regards to the type of foods I prefer (none of us eat seafood, amongst many other things and are extremely picky eaters), the types of movies and television shows I watch along with our love of naps. My temperament and my biological mother’s temperament have very similar attributes; we have many of the same facial expressions and very similar responses to crisis, stressors and confrontation. With my adoptive family, I share the same attributes such as; the love of the ocean as I spent part of my childhood being raised by it, the drive for higher education, the desire to volunteer, the drive to aim for the top and be the best at whatever I am doing. I couldn’t be the person I am today without the nature and nurture impact I had from both my biological mother and my adoptive parents.
My biological mother’s struggle with anxiety and depression steamed from adoption and loss of long ago. She was never offered counseling, updates or any closure with her adoption choice. She never developed coping skills so her depression and anxiety would rule her days rife with fear, grief and regret. Medication enabled her to numb the mental pain to some degree but never give her any sustainable relief. Misdiagnosis accompanied by poor medical attention only contributed to her early demise. She fought so much for others in her short life, there wasn’t any fight left for herself at 59 and when she had the fight of her life against pneumonia at 59 she lost, actually we all did. She taught me in the ten years we had together how to love, how to look past the little things, how to stand when you feel weak and lastly how to be yourself, regardless of what other people think. Lastly, I learned to throw makeup away when its old, jewelry matters- wear it, and it’s okay to have a pet squirrel, however I haven’t convinced my husband on a squirrel.
Adoption matters, it’s the preservation of life and the transfer of parenting. It’s a way for many to become parents and grow a family. Society has developed an interest in the term “paying it forward” whereas adoption aftercare services are minimal in comparison to the gift a birth mother gives an adoptive family. Regardless of whether you have personally adopted, related to someone who is adopted, or are friends with someone who is adopted or has adopted, there is a woman out there who made that adopted person’s life possible. Adoption is her gift of life, aftercare is the “Note of Gratitude”.
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