Further to two stories that just whistled past, Epigenetics: Altering ant behavior and Epigenetics: Mouse diet affects sperm RNA, a thought occurred to me: For many years, I’ve seen and heard people who were raised by adoptive parents obsessing about their “real” parents.
They seem to believe that their DNA parents conferred on them a magic key of same kind, and they must find it in order to even know who they really are.
Is that true? Why isn’t what they have been doing most of their life who they really are?
Unless one has some basis for actively rejecting everything one has learned growing up, most likely, one’s “real” parents are whoever has acted as a parent over the years, for better or worse.
I remember one adoptive mother, taunted by a rebellious teenager who wanted to find her “real” mother, taking the girl by the shoulders and saying, “Look, I raised you from when you were seven days old; I supported you, sat with you in emergency rooms and juvenile court, laughed and cried with you, … and got you into a good school in the end. I don’t know who or where your birth mother is. But I do know this: I am the only ‘real mother’ you have ever had or ever will have. Look at me. Get used to it. It doesn’t GET better than this.”
I hope the kid smartened up. Meanwhile what if she discovers, when she has children, that their genome reflects in part traits she acquired growing up in the adoptive home? Maybe that would allay some of the sense of alienation.
Might epigenetics could provide some basis for understanding? Time will tell.
See also: Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!
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