Adoption · Linkup · Musings and Personal

The Nature of Genes or Nurture’s Drug Exposure & Neglect?


I am linking up today with No Bohns About It, a blog that features an Adoption Linkup twice a month.

I have always believed nurture (upbringing) has a larger role than nature (genes). Since adopting Paige and Payten, I’ve considered it further and reevaluated my beliefs.

I would guess many adoptive parents and adoptees think about it, too.

It is easy to see certain aspects of my daughters that are, without a doubt, genetic. Paige has a high forehead and enormous brown eyes, like her biological mother, Ruth. (My PC Adoption Terminology, a prior post, explains my use of adoption terms). Payten’s biological father, David, has a widows peak, which he has passed onto her. 

Then there are some attributes that leave us all guessing.

Example: Payten has very fine, thin hair. All of her biological family members, at least the ones I know, have thick, coarser hair.

Example: Paige has blonde hair in a family full of brunettes.

Side Note:  Back when Ruth and I were friends on Facebook, she commented on a picture of Paige. The blonde is baffling…..pretty yet unexpected.

I responded, Sure, you say that, but we know why it is blonde!! j/k.

She wasn’t expecting that; however, she got a big laugh because we both have the same dry, dark sense of humor.

I wonder if either of the girls will have that dry, dark sense of humor. The biggest question will be… Did they get it from me or did they get it from Ruth?

Then there are other things that cannot be teased out of the nature versus nurture debate.

Like, does Paige get her extreme anxiety from genes (both Ruth and Paige’s biological grandmother have it) or is it from Ruth abusing Klonopin during her pregnancy?

How about Paige’s Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)? (Refer to my prior post I Wish My Daughter had Autism for information on Paige’s sensory challenges.) Again, is this the result of the excessive exposure to drugs in utero which scrambled up Paige’s neurology, or is it due to inherited nature? When I hear about Ruth’s childhood from the girls’ biological grandmother, she and Paige have commonalities that could be attributed to SPD.

Is Payten’s ADHD the result of drug abuse in utero? Is it the result of Ruth’s ADHD? Or, and this makes things even more sticky, is Payten’s ADHD the result of abuse and neglect? (Recent articles, such as this one, have pointed out that children treated for ADHD often come from adverse backgrounds.)

And I’m not even addressing David’s family, whom I don’t know anything about except that they are meth dealers.

When Andrew and I adopted, we knew these questions would come up.

We believed (and still do) that our nurture will help overcome any negative past experiences, in utero or out of utero, and any hereditary challenges. We believe that Payten’s ADHD and Paige’s anxiety and SPD can be helped with therapy, open communication, and coping skills.

So I guess it doesn’t really matter if it is nature or nurture; those are nothing more than labels. What does matter is how we help Paige and Payten cope with these challenges, hopefully overcome them, and perhaps even embrace them.

4 thoughts on “The Nature of Genes or Nurture’s Drug Exposure & Neglect?

  1. I definitely think nurture plays a bigger role…but nature shows itself every so often, too! Thanks for joining the #AdoptionTalk linkup!


  2. I really like your conclusion here. I’ve thought a lot about the same things you’ve mentioned but agree strongly that it doesn’t really matter in the end. We just have to do the best we can. Thanks for sharing!!


  3. It’s definitely something I have thought of as well. It’s funny how little things like facial expressions become topics of conversation. My son makes one expression that reminds me so much of his other mom, and then he makes another one that could only have been learned from my husband. It’s funny how the little bits of their birth families and the little bits of us meld together to make them the unique children that they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, like the poem “Legacy of an Adopted Child.” Interesting thing about my situation is that the girls’ bio mom and I quite a few things in common, from physical features to interests… and our dry sense of humor! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂


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