Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nature and Nurture

Adoptees are in the unique position of providing some experiential insight into the topics of nature and nurture. Please note that I wrote "nature and nurture" instead of "nature vs. nurture." This was a deliberate move and one that sets up my thoughts on the matter.

As a mother and adoptee, it is my feeling that a parent's job is to nurture a child's nature. This goes for natural and adoptive families. My two sons are born of my husband and me. They are mash-ups of their parents' genetics. And they are quite different from one another. What works for one in the parenting department might not work for the other. And it is the job of my husband and I to respect who our boys are as individuals and provide the nurturing most appropriate for their innate natures. And being the natural parents, my husband and I at least have the familial recognition that comes with raising children we created ourselves. Our boys each have qualities that we can recognize in ourselves and this gives us some useful insight regarding how to handle certain situations. Because our boys are their natures. That's the essence of who they are. And if we do our best to nurture their natures, they will hopefully enter adulthood with a solid sense of self and identity.

The current adoption system is set up in way that does not help adoptees understand or connect to our own innate natures and true selves in any way. It's an identity and sense-of-self crap shoot for us. And our adoptive parents are unable to offer the familial connection we need to develop a comprehensive identity. Our adoptive parents are put in the position of nurturing a nature that is unfamiliar and new. Some adoptive parents are able to recognize this and adjust their parenting approach to meet the unique needs of the adoptee. Others, like my own adoptive parents, struggle with it and put familial expectations on the adoptee that go against his or her innate nature.

The thing is that for adoptees, our nature is always with us. From the moment we are conceived. We come into our adoptive families already programmed by our natural families. And because of this, raising an adopted child is not the same as raising a natural child. Adoptive parents must take a unique approach to parenting in order to nurture a child whose nature did not originate in the adoptive family. It is my feeling that the most successful of adoptive parents are the ones who find a way to step back and observe the child they are raising so that they can encourage the child's nature to blossom.

It's not a competition. Nature does not compete with nurture in some odd battle of wills to win the ability to offer an adoptee a true sense of self. Our natures simply need to be nurtured in a way that is respectful and understanding of our life circumstances. .