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Nature vs. Nurture / Genetics vs. Environment

Highlights from December 11, 2009 Creating a Family radio show

How much of our children’s personality traits, temperament, talents, health conditions, mental illness, and intelligence are controlled by their genes and how much by the environment we have created? What relevance does this have to us as parents through adoption or donor egg or sperm? Our guests were: • Dr. Matt McGue, Professor of Psychology at University of Minnesota, a behavioral and quantitative geneticist, and Co-Director of Minnesota Twin Family Study and the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study and Research on Adoption. He is also an adoptive dad. • Dr. Nancy Segal, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Twin Studies Center, at California State University, Fullerton and author of Indivisible by Two: Lives of Extraordinary Twins and Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior. • Dr. Jenae Neiderhiser, a professor of psychology at Penn State University and Director of several long term twin and adoption studies that look at the interplay between genetics and environment.

  • There are different types of twin research designed to tease out the relative influences of genetics and environment.
  • In general, the research shows an interesting mix between nature and nurture on how our kids “turn out”.
  • Intelligence is impacted by both genes and environment. Adopted kids are usually more similar in academic achievement when living within the adopted family, but this environmental influence wanes as they age.
  • Personality and temperament are highly influenced by genetics. Again, more so as the child ages. But there are some surprising areas or temperament or personality that are more influenced by the environment.
  • Our guests evaluated the heritability of different types of mental illness, including bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, aggression, and alcoholism. We discussed the difference between being highly heritable and the odds of having the disease. We talked about this in the context of prospective adoptive parents evaluating an adoption referral or a potential birth mother match.
  • We talked about epigenetics as it relates to donor egg, donor sperm or embryo donation (embryo adoption).
  • ADHD and autism have a “moderate” genetic connection.
  • Obesity is highly influenced by genes.

 

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Creating a Family and in particular your radio show has been a lifeline to me over the past 2+ years. In the privacy of my home/car I have been connected with others whose family-building has been challenged and I have had access to invaluable information from experts that have helped us make better decisions. Thank you! ~ S. Potter

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I wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful things you do. We brought our beautiful baby boy home from the hospital on April 2nd. While we waited for an adoption match and then waited for his birth, your podcast and website were a continuous reminder that we were part of an amazing adoption community. It really helped us not feel alone.  ~Sarah S.

I listen to your radio shows daily on my iPod while cleaning, exercising, driving etc. I've learned so much from it, that today in the foster- adopt support group I felt like an all knowing expert, despite the fact, that I have zero experience in the field. Thank you for a wonderful resource! I am spreading the word. ~G. Longley

Thank you so much for your radio show! I was just listening to it, and it's very informative. My husband and I are in the process of adoption, so we read a lot to be able to make informed decisions. Your website is a great resource for us! ~N.M.W.

“I learned more from this show than from two Reproductive Endocrinologist and all my own research. I appreciate the professionals you have on your show.” ~ L. Upton

I LOVE your show, it's the most helpful, unbiased information I’ve found about infertility and adoption and I'm so thankful for you and your organization. Keep up the fantastic work, you are changing lives. ~ Amanda

So I would like to introduce to you....Z. V.. She is now 11 weeks old. She came from a lovely perfect little frozen embryo, from our 4th round of IVF (2 fresh cycles and 2 FET)...more  ~A. Houston

I'm just writing to say that I've downloaded another bunch of your podcasts onto my iPhone and while I listen to them on my daily commute I silently
thank you for doing such a good job and conducting such brilliant interviews!!!...
more   ~G. Marino

Although you don't know us from Adam, I wanted to drop a line and thank you for the amazing info, sound advice, and encouragement you offer to adoptive and prospective adoptive parents.  We just received our pre-approval for our daughter, W, from China!  You (in book, website, blog, and podcast form) have been there every step of the way in this journey.  ~ J. & C. Morningstar

I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you how much I love your show. I recently got an iPhone and have been listening to them on iTunes. Your "What Adopted Teens Want Their Parents to Know" session was amazing!!!          ~A. Watson

My husband and I are parents through adoption to THE three most incredible children in the world. All via newborn domestic transracial.  I wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from your web site.  I often refer potential adoptive parents who ask me for advice to your site. I especially enjoy your radio shows and today’s show on "Knowing When to Move from Infertility to Adoption" particularly resonated with me. ~N. Ferrari

I have loved, loved this radio show. It has been hands down the most helpful resource on this often painful and confusing journey. ~ R. Butler

I have been listening to lots of your radio shows of late. Great guests and very enlightening always. Thanks so much for keeping us up with the latest.  ~ W. & M. Welch

I just wanted you to know what a tremendous resource and blessing your podcasts have been to my wife and I as we prepare to travel early next month to pick up our new 17 month old son from Colombia...more
~ M. & L. Oakes


I just wanted to share my story since Creating a Family pod casts were so helpful to me when I was infertile. It really helped knowing I wasn't alone and could get the most updated information on my condition. I am almost 32 years old and I have been trying to get pregnant for 6 long years...more ~ J. Mendenhall

 

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We are awaiting the arrival of our child from Ethiopia. I recently took a road trip and downloaded 9 hours of the Creating a Family podcasts and listened to them all. I learned so much. Thanks.        ~J. Madine 

Just home from adopting our son in Colombia. He and we are doing great. Your site and especially podcasts were a tremendous resource to us personally, as well as for a reason we didn't ever expect...more  

~ M. and L. Oakes

 

 

 

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