Nature vs. Nurture

There are certainly a few online forums I have been exposed to over the past year where folks did not have a pleasant experience growing up in their adopted families. Yet, there are just as many, if not more, adoptees whose adopted families were perfectly fine. This was my experience.

It was not until I reached my late forties with children of my own that I considered more about my roots than I did before. I was curious and a little distant from relatives outside of my immediate adopted family. But I never felt that the people who raised me were not my Mom and Dad.

It is confusing to complete a search and have willing birth relatives in my life. I am not the traditional adoptee who waited for their adopted parents to pass away before I looked. Even entertaining that idea is quite morbid to me. If anything, I wanted to share who I found and what my roots are like not create a separate life outside of the one I lived my whole life.

In my case I feel that my adopted family does not really want to know much about my birth relatives. It feels like grandparents on my wife’s side and my adopted parents side of the family spending time with our kids. They both want their “special time” with the grandkids and don’t really want to share the experience with the other grandparent. It’s not like they don’t get along, they just want their moments with them. That experience for them is similar to how my adopted parents likely feel about my birth family. They like that I have found someone, but they don’t want to revel in the adoration of someone else’s feelings towards me. They want their time with me as their son; not their adopted son.

I totally understand the perspective. I also feel that I really need to honor it too. So these people have not met and likely never will. They get to separately know me, in their own ways and not deal with the awkwardness of a relationship they would feel compelled to make-work.

Similar to how I feel about neighbors. I wave to my neighbors, I say hello, even try and do something extra now and then to show them I am friendly; plow their sidewalk clear of snow, etc. Yet, I do not want to get to know them personally. What if we don’t get along? It’s not like I can afford to move away because I don’t get along with my neighbors. So this is a similar perspective between my adopted family and my birth relatives. At least that is how I rationalize it.

This triad is a little strange to balance. You want to show everyone you care legitimately and yet not tangle one side with the other in awkward uncomfortable feelings. I did not look for my birth relatives to replace my family. Some adoptees hold their found genetic relatives like a flag to be hung right outside their house. Some of us need to keep these families separate, not because they could not get along eventually, but to potentially shelter them from having to face the triad and the feelings and confusion that seems to always simmer to the surface.

No search, reunion, triad, or adoptee’s universe is the same. Everyone has a perspective and experience that may be on some levels similar, but thus far everyone I have worked with has been unique. As adoptees we realize that depending on our perspective we are with family no matter which side of the triad we are with. No one is less than the other, they all are in themselves a world in which we lived and might have lived. We are not completely of one world or the other. Eventually you come to terms that you are a blend.

This is that nature and nurture people come to terms with in the reality of a reunion. The balance between the world one was raised in, with the similarities and evolving relationships with your birth family.

So why share this with my searchers? It is to give you some perspective on the truth passed the dream of your search. Eventually the fairy tale of your birth realities come into focus, and you are responsible for a new family, while at the same time compelled to protect your adopted family from any pain you perceive they might encounter.