Genetics- When your children are so different than you are!

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Our adopted sons are SO different than us!


Ok, so we’re at that phase in our life when we have a 16 and 20 year old son. That, in itself, is a tough time!

Our boys are adopted. They each come with a completely different set of genes that they inherited from their birth parents.

There is that saying that there is a difference between “nurture versus nature”. All the parenting in the world doesn’t matter when you have 2 children who are so biologically different than their parents. Sure, they will learn from our examples, and hopefully incorporate that in the way that they become caring, successful adults. Nature, on the other hand dealt them cards that I’m wholly unaware of. Who were their ancestors and what did they inherit?

Our sons come from opposite ends of the planet. One is part Italian, Irish and English but born in Canada. The other is part Russian Jewish and part Tajikistani Muslim from an orphanage in Siberia. One was adopted at birth, the other at 15 months.

As a genealogist, it’s in my nature to want to hark back to my ancestors to look for similar traits, features, personality characteristics etc. This is so hard for us as we can’t draw on any of the familiar “YOU ARE JUST LIKE YOUR FATHER” sayings! Or, “THE APPLE DOESN”T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE”, “OH WOW, HE’S JUST LIKE UNCLE so-and so!”

We know little of their backgrounds, especially the younger one. We know that we’ve parented them exactly as we would have parented biological children, with maybe a bit more empathy due to the fact that they would have to deal with loss at some point.

My husband is a jock. Number one reason for being,for him, is to get that adrenaline rush, compete, win, start a new project, create a new business. I’m an academic, with a long history of selflessness and service in my family.

Our boys have no interest in sports, except maybe snowboarding and mountain biking.

They are not competitive. They are also not particularly studious, even though the older one is amazingly bright.

This, is not THE most difficult aspect anyway. The hardest part of having biologically different offspring is that they are EXTREMELY different people than would otherwise be in our family. It’s a constant battle to figure out why they say what they say, do what they do, feel what they feel. It’s a dance where we all try to move to our family rhythm in a way that works for all of us, while not treading on anyone’s toes.

It’s hard on all of us, especially them. I wish I could ask questions of THEIR ancestors to get some insight in how to be a better parent. I wish an unknown great grandfather could whisper in my ear “oh, that’s no big deal, I did that all the time and I became…..such and such.” or “wow, he’s JUST like my dad!”

This would be such a comforting whisper. A bit of a shoulder to lean on to know that we are doing the best we can and they will know it one day. We’ve learned along the way that we can only do our best and so can they. We all love each other and we all try to work on blending….on being part of this “crazy family”, as my son says.

I wish I knew more about their inherited medical history, their bio families mental health issues, and any other important factors that would help me be a better parent.

Being a genealogist with a desire to know a family’s past is so difficult when you have 2 members of your OWN family that you know very little about!!


About tiesthatbindsite

I'm a genealogist with a passion for Scottish and English ancestry. I'm trilingual so I can also do research in French Canadian records and Italian records. My love for family history began 35 years ago and continues to grow every day. My family is very important to me and I hope to instill in them a love for "where they came from" so that they can better understand who they are. I also want to share my love of family history with anyone who understands how important it is to not lose site of their ancestors. They all have a story to tell.
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5 Responses to Genetics- When your children are so different than you are!

  1. Judith Land says:

    Thanks for sharing your personal experiences. Many adoptees feel out of place when a true self-identity based on solid connections to the past is missing. Their lives are complicated by painful backstories and gaps in their life’s story that may cause emotional suffering. Every adopted child has feelings they can’t fully comprehend, including grief, denial, abandonment, and even anger. Lacking a true self-identity, feeling insecure, and existentially uncertain of their place in the world, many adoptees suffer low self-esteem, which is the single most important emotional gauge of future happiness, success, feelings of well being, confidence and positive assurances. Empathy is heartbreaking for the virtuous adoptive parent who has given all the love and care and hugs they can to a child that continues to struggle with genealogical bewilderment issues. My life was greatly enhanced by a successful adoption search and reunion at age 30. You have a fascinating job title…finding my parents was a huge mental relief. I did my DNA last year and I now have 1,700 people in my family tree. I have become friends with my biological relatives and remote cousins living in a foreign country who don’t even speak English. Knowing something about my ‘roots’ is fascinating to me, including social customs, cuisine, geography, occupations, religion, and culture…I think this is generally true with all people who take the time to study history and genealogy, even those who aren’t adopted…


    • Thank you Judith for you very insightful comment! My first son actually has a family tree given to him from his birth mother that has given him at least part of his biological background. He’s never met her but has a connection with her through her sharing this amazing gift. My other son, unfortunately, will never know his. I am doing their DNA but doubt there will be anyone with his particularly unusual background that would have access to this information from where’s from. You are absolutely right about being fascinated, even if NOT adopted. I certainly was.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Luanne @ TFK says:

    As an another adoptive parent, I say thank you for recognizing how it is for them not to have those answers. My kids are older than yours, and they weren’t able to start to work on these issues until well into their 20s.


    • It’s really hard to watch them process it at different ages. I can’t imagine. My younger son will never, ever, know his full heritage. I even hired a genealogist in Russia to trace it for me but she wanted power of attorney…UMMMM I THINK NOT!

      Liked by 1 person

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