General adoptee thoughts, Reunions

Nature vs. Nurture

Notebooks in every room. Scraps of paper in the car, in my purse and in pockets. I’m a girl who loves the world of analog notes. It’s as though a thought isn’t fully formed until I’ve written it down, pen to paper, and let it sit for a day or so to gel.

Writers write. It’s what we do. I’ve been writing since, hmmm, first grade? That’s more than 4 decades of practice and I’m still learning.

Notebooks and day planners and the odd scrap of paper have been filled for years with my thoughts and studies and observations about Nature vs. Nurture. I’ve always wanted to know what traits I got from my biological parents and which I received from the family I have known all my life.

My personality is very much like my Dad’s personality. He’s funny, charming and a good conversationalist. He is fair and tends to be even-keeled even if he isn’t terribly patient. We both have turned around in the parking lot of a restaurant when we see tour buses (too noisy! too crowded! and too long a wait for food – especially at a buffet!) We both complain to anyone who will listen about traffic and the lines at toll-booths. My Dad has been a salesman his entire life and I followed in his footsteps. I’ve sold different things but the consultative approach that I learned watching him has stood me in good stead.

We’re also very different. And I think that’s the case with all families. There are similarities and there are differences. The things I mention about our similarities are definitely traits that you learn from proximity to someone. I don’t know that you’re DNA pre-disposes you to hate waiting on line.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that our general dispositions are genetic, and if we, as adoptees, are lucky enough to get placed in a family with a similar disposition we get the golden ticket.

My parents are generally happy people. They like to find the silver lining. They’re realists and don’t gloss over challenges, but at the end of the day, they’re focused on the good and the ways to connect and to love deeply.

What I’m saying is this – you can choose to be a victim in all situations or you can choose to see how you fit into the crapstorm that seems to swirl around you non-stop. If you feel like you keep getting rained on, why not bring an umbrella?

I know, easy for me to say – I have the disposition of someone who sees the glass as half-full. Life has thrown its share of pain and heartache my way, and I’ve had periods of time of darkness, however, I still saw a sliver of light. I think that may be genetic and I think this is why my reunion seems to be going well.

My biological siblings are generally positive, funny and loving people. They are quick to embrace and slow to judge. They are open to new things and to letting someone else in – they are curious and genuine. In essence, they are like me!

In observing adoptees who have had painful, sad, uncomfortable or downright awful reunions, I notice that the general disposition of the biological family is generally negative, close-minded and fearful. Often the adoptee had a painful life and was seeking solace with them only to be rejected again. I’m not a sociologist, but there seems to be a trend related to the general disposition of the biological family and I wonder if that disposition has been genetically passed on to their children, adopted or not?

Every adoptee dreams about their biological family at some point in their life. Even those adoptees who have no desire to search for their families share that they have a vision of what their biological parents might have been like.

When I was in my angst-ridden teen years I fantasized daily that my biological family was like me! I felt certain that they asked questions about church and God and finding a way to impact the world in a positive way. I hoped that they were broad-minded with a good sense of humor. I dreamed that my biological mother would look me in my eyes and just know all the things I was feeling so I wouldn’t have to try to spell it out.

Like I said, it’s a fantasy of an angst-ridden teenager.

As I’ve gotten to know my new-to-me siblings I’ve learned that they are all those things and that the generation before them was much more close-mouthed and secretive. (Obviously, Cathy and I were two big secrets that our biological mother took to her grave!) Yet, MY generation is full of people who are all the things that I dreamed about and that is amazing to me. How wonderful that we all created that space in our lives – together and separately. We run the gamut on religion and we’re all committed to making the world better in our ways. We have big brains that explore new ways of thinking and we all love to learn and expand our world-views.

It’s hard to explain if you’ve never been adopted, but I can feel how we are alike and how we are different in my bones. That familiarity is the gift of nature that I’ve been seeking for a lifetime.