Nature vs. Nurture (China Mom)
Sep 9, 2011 - 10:22 AM
I was talking with a dear friend the other day. We’ve known each other since college, so that makes him an “old” friend in more ways than one. He’s known my husband just as long – in fact, he introduced me to my husband.
He mentioned how much he enjoys seeing photos of our daughter and reading about her on Facebook. He said, “She's definitely your daughter. She's a little version of the both of you. It’s so much fun to see her growing up and into such a wonderful blend of both of you guys.”
Now that’s a normal thing to say to parents, right? Kids are usually little versions of their moms and dads. They the physical and personality traits of their mom and dad, along with their family's cute, quirky and sometimes annoying characteristics.
But my child is adopted. From a foreign country. She’s about as far from me as she can get. And yet, I hear comments like my friend’s all the time.
When we received her referral, countless people said she looked like us, only Chinese. Even our Chinese guide told me, “She’s the Chinese version of you!” I've heard that from so many people over the past five years and I have to agree. She's my little mini-me. But in more ways than appearance. From the day they placed her in my arms, I’ve been amazed at what a perfect match she is for our family. Not just her personality and temperament, but her interests, as well.
And it’s not just us. Other adoptive families experience the same thing. In one family, for example, the dad is an engineer and their daughter has always been incredibly interested in building things, taking things apart and putting them back together so she can understand how they work. Another family is very active and athletic. Their daughter has always been very coordinated. She walked early and even as young as two was running as if she were a marathoner, as opposed to a toddler.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I’ve always said that as adoptive families, we’re a lifelong study in nature vs. nurture. And we’ll never really know the outcome.
Were our children born this way? Or are all babies really just “lumps of clay” that parents mold to reflect themselves? If China had referred our engineer friend’s daughter to our family and our daughter to them, would the girls’ interests be different today? Would I have daughter who is disassembling toasters? And would they have a book-loving, girly-girl who's "totally" into dance and gymnastics? More importantly, what would I do with a child who’s disassembling my toaster?
I don’t know whether it’s nature vs. nurture. But I do know it works.