Saturday, May 03, 2008


This article appeared in Psycology Today. Its titled "The Gene Responsibility" by Anne Murphy Paul. Its an interesting read. Its going to make adoptive parents mad. It however brings up an interesting point. Natural parents do understand the genetic tendancies of their children. I wonder if adoptive parents understand this. One blog that I skimmed over calls herself a square peg in a circle hole. I really wonder if adoption is one of the best institutions when it doesn't help our children. Adoptees sometimes feel like they just don't fit in their families. I know this because I have felt it. Did this help or hinder my natural process of growth?

I remember my selection of friends. Bryan, Artie, and Gail were my main buds through junior high and high school. My poor mother cringed at the thought of them until she got to know them. These friends were people of strong caliber and intelligence. Because they were different physically, I don't think she saw it right away. As she got to know them, she realized that I made a perfect choice for friends for me. I love these friends to this day.

This was the shocking discovery at the end of the study :

"What Reiss and his colleagues discovered, in one of the longest and most thorough studies of child development ever attempted, was that parents appear to have relatively little effect on how children turn out, once genetic influences are accounted for. "The original objective was to look for environmental differences," says Reiss. "We didn't find many." Instead, it seems that genetic influences are largely responsible for how "adjusted" kids are: how well they do in school, how they get along with their peers, whether they engage in dangerous or delinquent behavior. "If you follow the study's implications through to the end, it's a radical revision of contemporary theories of child development," says Reiss. "I can't even describe what a paradigm shift it is."

So what does this say for adoptees who don't know their genetic tendancies? Does the sealing of records really account for this? How does an adoptee or an adoptive parent really discover what an adoptee's genetic tendancies? These are all thought provoking questions. Does the adoptive parent have any control over their adoptee to change their direction in life?

These behavior geneticists believe that hereditary tendancies dictate how the child will react to its environment. What happens when the parents don't know the genetics of their adopted child? Since nurture and environment have no effect, how are they supposed to know? Is adoption a good thing for a child?

Here is another quote from the article:

" But problems may arise if nurture and nature aren't on speaking terms -- if a child's environment doesn't permit or encourage expression of his natural tendencies. That may happen when children's abilities don't match their parents' expectations; when their genetically-influenced temperament clashes with that of their parents; or when their environment offers them few opportunities to express themselves constructively, as is often the case with children who grow up in severe poverty. Research has shown that a poor person-to-environment match can lead to decreased motivation, diminished mental health, and rebellious or antisocial behavior."

Interestingly, they don't mention adoption per se in this article.

Here is another quote from the article:

"To Reiss, parents' role as interpreters of the language of heredity holds out an exciting possibility. "If you could intervene with parents and get them to respond differently to troublesome behavior, you might be able to offset much of the genetic influence" on those traits, he says. In other words, if genes become behavior by way of the environment, then changing the environment might change the expression of the genes. Although such intervention studies are years away from fruition, small-scale research and clinical experience are pointing the way toward working with children's hereditary strengths and weaknesses."

Again the adoptive parents will need to know and understand the genetic tendancies of their children. With the sealing of records, adoption agencies still not giving adequate information to adoptive parents, and adoptive parents still living in fear of natural parents, an adoptee is the one that suffers in the long run. We are not given all the opportunities to be all that we can be.

What do you think of this article?

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