Babe Ruth is arguably the greatest baseball player of all time. Bill Clinton held the highest office in the free world, President of the United States. J. R. R. Tolkein authored one of the most successful fiction book series ever in the Lord of the Rings. Steve Jobs created on of the most successful computer businesses in the world, in Apple Co. What do these men have in common? They were all adopted. Adoption plays a large role in the development of an individual. Adoption plays a role in the long time psychological debate of “nature vs. nurture”. This paper will address the nature vs. urture debate, how adoptions plays a role in the debate, give a history of adoption, and tell the story of a personal friend who was adopted and overcame the tragedy of his nature and was able to triumph through his solid nurturing. The nature vs. nurture debate is one of the longest in the field of psychology. It is concerned with the importance of individual’s inborn qualities, their nature, versus their personal experience or their “nurture”(Ceci & Williams, 2000). Many psychologists disagree as to which plays a more important role on an individual.
Psychologist Donald Hebb is said to have answered the question of which contributed more to the personality of a person with the response, “which contributes more to the area of a rectangle, its length or its width? (Ceci & Williams, 2000)” One of the major issues that a researcher of nature vs. nurture dilemma encounters is determining how much influence genes and environment have on traits (Santrock, 2009). It is somewhat difficult to determine whether a trait is formed through heredity or from the environment (Ceci & Williams, 2000). One way in which researchers go about the process is by studying twins.
Researchers study the behavioral similarities between identical twins and that of fraternal twins. Fraternal twins are no more genetically alike than regular brothers and sisters while identical twins are genetically identical. They then can do studies and discover which traits seem to be more heretical (Santrock, 2009). Researchers may also study traits and the influence of genes and environment on adopted individuals. They study to see whether or not the adopted persons characteristics are more like his adoptive parents, his nurture, or more like that of his biological parents, or his nature (Santrock, 2009).
Adoption is an institution that can greatly affect the development of a human being. Adoption is the social and legal process by which a parent–child relationship is established between persons unrelated at birth (Santrock, 2009). Adoption has been called the “quintessential American institution, embodying faith in social engineering and mobility (Melosh, 2006). ” While the modern form of adoption was created in the United States, the world has a long history of the institution. Originally the practice was used on young adults for political reasons in the Roman Empire.
They would adopt young men to create an heir to their estates (Melosh, 2006). Infant adoptions were rather rare. The modern form of adoption we know today came as a result of the aftermath of the Civil War. The war caused an overcrowding in orphanages around the country. Minister Charles Loring Brace became disgusted with seeing all of the homeless children so he came up with an idea. He wrote “The Best Method Of Disposing of Our Pauper and Vagrant Children” in 1859. This essentially started the Orphan Train movement (Melosh, 2006).
The trains shipped an estimated 200,000 children from the major cities in the East to rural towns. At first the children were indentured to families to work but eventually this made way to the institution of adoption as we know it today (Melosh, 2006). The affects that adoption plays on the development of an individual are somewhat difficult to gage. Researchers tend to agree that is indeed does play a role on the development of a person. Children who are adopted very early in their lives tend to have a better outcome on their life than a child who is adopted at an older age.
There is a study in which shows that the later the adoption took place, the more trouble the person seemed to have. Research has also shown that that adopted children and adolescents had more psychological problems and trouble in school. A large study also found adopted people was more likely to have a learning disability (Santrock, 2009). Not all the research about adopted children is negative however. One study shows that adopted individuals tended to be more altruistic, caring, and supportive of others (Santrock, 2009). The later research is what I have found to be true in my own experience with adopted children.
My very good friend Justin Jahanshir is adopted. Justin was born to an alcoholic, drug-abusing mother. Justin was taken in and adopted by Sharom and Shelly Jahanshir as an infant. Justin was raised in a warm and very loving family. He is absolutely nothing like his mother. I asked Justin where would he be in life if he was kept with his mother and he responded, “I’m pretty sure I would be in jail. ” Justin has recently helped develop Molly’s Voice, an organization to help get children who are up for adoption into loving families.
Justin also said he plans to adopt children of his own one day. While I sit here and type my paper on an Apple computer created by Steve Jobs, I wonder. Would this computer have been possible if Steve was not adopted into the home he was? Would Babe Ruth have become the “Great Bambino”? Would Bill Clinton have made it from the sticks of Arkansas to the White House? It is hard to tell but I personally doubt it. Much research has been done on the subject on nature vs. nurture, with many different results. The debate is ongoing and will always be.