Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Why Genetics Are So Important To The Adopted Child
Family members share their genes, as well as their environment, lifestyles and habits. Everyone
can recognize traits that run in their family, such as curly hair, dimples, leanness or athletic
ability. Risks for diseases such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease also run in families.
Everyone’s family history of disease is different. The key features of a family history that may
increase risk are:
• Diseases that occur at an earlier age than expected (10 to 20 years before most people
get the disease);
• Disease in more than one close relative;
• Disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (for example, breast cancer in a male);
• Certain combinations of diseases within a family (for example, breast and ovarian cancer,(or heart disease and diabetes).
If your family has one or more of these features, your family history may hold important clues
about your risk for disease. Your ancestors with these gene traits may have adjusted their environment, lifestyles and habits to survive and flourish.
It is easy to show that close relatives have a greater than average chance of sharing genes. It has long been clear that this must be why altruism by parents towards their young is so common. The same applies to other brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, close cousins. If an individual dies in order to save ten close relatives, one copy of the kin-altruism gene may be lost, but a larger number of copies of the same gene is saved.
The benefit of a child growing up in his or her biological family far outweighs any material things that could be gained for the child through adoption. Their very health can depend on it. For example, studies show that if you have a close relative with bipolar disorder, you have about a 10 percent chance of getting a mood disorder, such as bipolar disorder or depression.Genetic tests for some rare diseases clearly tied to a specific, single gene, like cystic fibrosis, fragile X syndrome (a heritable cause of mental retardation), or sickle cell disease, give people definitive answers about their risk of getting these rare illnesses.The results have given people valuable health information that has helped them get the right treatments or, if no treatment is available, to plan their lives and care, in consultation with their health-care team.
We have a case which has gone to the Supreme court and back about "Baby Veronica". Through various courts and decisions she was removed from the potential adoptive parents and placed back with her biological father and grandparents for almost as long as she lived with the non related couple. Both homes are safe and loving, but she would clearly have a better advantage at survival living with her Native American relatives who share some of her genetic markers.
Then there is the psychological impact of being away from our biological relatives. We all have ancestors who have been noble, honest, kind and creative. We all have ancestors who have been dishonorable, cruel and small minded. Our ancestors have thrived and have suffered. And each one was exactly where they needed to be to bring us into the world. Our great, great, great-grandparents give us 1/64th of our genes. Their offspring gives us 1/32 and this is as true for adoptees and orphans who do not know their ancestors, as it is for those of us who have inherited detailed family trees. They survived long enough to send life on to the next generation, eventually reaching you. You could not be alive without them.A deep identification with our forebears gives us our most fundamental security. If we trace our ancestors back 185 million years he or she would be a fish. Your fish is the same as my fish and a small part of our genes come from that fish. Our most common human ancestor of all the world's population lived at least 100,000 years ago. Some of us will be ancestors some day, some will not. There is no in between.
Adopted children often go through a stage of feeling like an outsider. She may fantasize about the person she would have been had she not been adopted. She may even produce a ghost-like image of what her life and family would have been like.With the adoptee not having a role model who resembles her physically or psychologically, it is more difficult to define where her life shall lead. She may come from a biologically artistic family, but adopted into a scientific family. She may not only feel the need to follow in her adoptive family’s footsteps, attending similar colleges, choosing similar careers, but she did not have the artistic role model to show her that way of life. This further complicates the identity formation of the adoptee. Adoptees are faced with a feeling of loss and grief that they are not allowed, by society, to actively mourn.
In Western culture, the dominant conception of family revolves around a heterosexual couple with biological offspring. As a consequence, research indicates, disparaging views of adoptive families exist, along with doubts concerning the strength of their family bonds. The most recent adoption attitudes survey completed by the Evan Donaldson Institute provides further evidence of this stigma. Nearly one-third of the surveyed population believed adoptees are less-well adjusted, more prone to medical issues, and predisposed to drug and alcohol problems. Additionally, 40-45% thought adoptees were more likely to have behavior problems and trouble at school. In contrast, the same study indicated adoptive parents were viewed favorably, with nearly 90% describing them as, "lucky, advantaged, and unselfish."
The consensus among researchers is that adoption affects development throughout life, with the fact of "being adopted," creating unique responses to significant life-events such as the birth of their own child.