Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nature Versus Nurture Versus The Things That Make You You

Today's entry is being taken from a recent e-mail I sent someone. When it comes to nature versus nurture in the adoption world I tend to lean on both sides. I'm many things from both my adoptive and biological family. At the end of the day however I am most importantly an individual. I often feel lost in the debate, and I think many times adoptees are seen perhaps as the ultimate experiment in this ongoing discussion. It is hard to identify with yourself when you feel like you only have two options for identity. Not only that but decisions you made will come with the label 'adoptee'. I have sometimes felt representative of all adoptees merely by the fact I am one. Similar to the feeling I represent all International Adoptive Parents. For some, knowing only me will make me representative of all. It's a lot to live up to.

Here is the excerpt of my own individual experience on this subject.

Within my own immediate family I definitely felt "different". With one family member in particular I clearly felt a lack of belonging. As an adult though I can see it was his own feelings of inadequately belonging that I was really witnessing. It's interesting... As an adult my perspective on our young family has greatly evolved. As I've watched my brother move through life I've come to appreciate the fact that we are more like each other in our reactions to some situations than we are even like our parents. Nurture is very evident in certain instinctual behavior.

Having met my birth family I agree with my Opa's assessment that I'm much like my Oma. I adored my Oma so this also rather indulgently satisfies my ego. I am more like my Oma than I am like any of my birth family. However, my mannerisms mirror my sister and we too share countless similarities. Growing up under the umbrella of artistic it was amazing to see my biological family full of singers, musicians, and artists with talents much like my own. I wouldn't define that as finding belonging, more so recognizing parts of myself. My paternal grandmother was a country singer, that's one of the neat facts I have tucked away that delights the singer inside of me. In my biological family the person I'm most similar to would be my father from what I know. I count his death among one of the losses you're never prepared for in reunion.

I love knowing my background, and my family with all its problems has definitely grown twofold and I'm very blessed by all of them. I hope all of my experience with my own adoption will translate into understanding between our child and us. I have an understanding of their grief and I hope that will give us a stronger ability to move through that grief which will be a life long journey.

At the end of the day interestingly from my own experience I've learned the things I would say are my biggest quirks and characteristics I was surprised to find were in fact simply my own. No one else has a weird pajama obsession, or addiction to fresh flowers. No one else would count opera as their favorite music or even old black and white movies as must haves. No one else sees peanut butter chocolate milkshakes as the be all end all of the drink world, or has a drive towards politics and international relations. The things I think Doug sees as my weird idiosyncrasies or even fundamental truths are very different from everyone. This merely reinforces to me that I am not part of either side of the nature versus nurture debate. I exist not even in the middle. For no part of this seems to account for my individuality.

This is as close to a response I'm willing to give. I've looked far and wide and no one else is exactly my kind of crazy. Yes, that is pride you're reading. I'm my own fabulous person and I'm pretty sure we all carry that badge of uniqueness.


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