Heredity or Environment?

Where do adopted kids get their characteristic traits?

“I have looked at our pics and it is clear we r related.”

This text message from Celia reminded me of the first time I contacted her sister, my birth mom.  I wrote her telling her about myself, my view on adoption, (via a newspaper clipping I had written at 17) and a picture of myself.

She wrote me back and included a picture of herself and I looked amazingly like her.  That was the strangest feeling to me.  People always said I look like my family (adoptive) but deep down I always thought, “yeah, right, but I’m adopted,”  but to see someone who I am suppose to look and Do!  That was incredibly strange and amazing and sad and curious all at the same time.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of catching up with my birth aunt from Atlanta.  She was in Houston for a medical conference and we were able to enjoy dinner together and an evening of conversation.  What we discovered is that we have several other things in common besides just similar physical features; thus her quote at the beginning of this post.

Dinner with birth aunt Celia...2015

Dinner with birth aunt Celia…2015


We also dream very detailed and vivid dreams.  The kind that really should be written down and turned into a movie or at least a bizarre episode of the “Twilight Zone”.  We both talk fast and “chase rabbits” with our speech patterns, so of course we had a delightful time conversing with each other, but probably were a little too much for the guys in my house.

As I mentioned in a previous post, 90 Days and Beyond… , I have been challenging the notion that I am lactose intolerant–turns out my Aunt Celia is and so was my birth mom.

Now obviously, something like lactose intolerance might be hereditary, but as an adopted child I have been curious about what characteristics are inherited and which ones are just picked up by influence or environment.

When I had my first contact with my birth mom at age 19, I was studying to be an accountant and taking an Art History class, and in general I was fascinated with history.   I always figured the history fascination was due to my dad’s influence.  Turns out my birth mom had a History degree; knew an amazing amount about art history and was working as an accountant.  I met her later that year for the first time, but after learning more about her through the years I found out we also shared a love of travel, the  finer things and a persistent personality–which others might describe as pure stubbornness!

First meeting of my birth mom...circa 1985

First meeting of my birth mom…circa 1985

I will pursue this discussion more in the book that I am writing on adoption, but I would love to hear your perspectives; especially if you are adopted or have an adopted child.  Let me know, which do you think is stronger–heredity or environment?


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