every pro-adoption publication reports negative behaviors
of adopted children and attributes these aberrations to pre-adoption
life, and specifically to the natural mother and her family.
Or the natural father and his family. This phenomena has been
labeled by adopters as the Mystery Gene.
Mystery Gene is a nasty little fellow that can strike at any
time. It is responsible for all kinds of problems in substitute
homes. The Gene operates as a sort of malevolent Casper to
the adoptive world. Apparently this devious gene somehow manages
to escape and inhabit the child before the original birth
records can be sealed, thwarting the adopter's best attempt
to prevent its appearance. It is hard to pin down, hard to
catch, and harder to deny, even when those in closest contact
with it, are in denial themselves.
little rascal, the Nature Gene that unfortunately attaches
itself to adopted children, can erupt in bad behaviors without
warning. It even has its own language, sort of like a script
common to the children it inhabits. The Gene speaks through
the adopted child and says things
like "you're not my real mother" - or father. It tells children
to slam doors and forget to do their homework.
adopted boy, now an adult, reports that he grew up believing
he had inherited a Poor Student Gene that intimidated him
in the classroom and hindered his learning. He didn't know
why he had so much trouble concentrating on his schoolwork.
His adopters solemnly explained to him that he had inherited
this Bad Nature Gene from his mother, who was most likely
Trailer Park Trash amongst other sins. They seized every opportunity
to reinforce their punitive judgment of his mother.
told him this so often that he began to believe it. This made
the Gene mad. It told the boy to behave even worse and so
he did. It told him he was No Good, just like his mother who
was a slut, a prostitute, a drug addict, and exactly like
those Bad Women in the bible who deserved to be punished for
their sins. His adoption was her punishment for her shameful
boy learned from his adopters that he was the result of the
sin of which they spoke and that inside him was this Very
Bad Gene known as Bad Blood, which is the colloquial expression
of genetically inherited traits. He got madder and madder,
but eventually learned to swallow his rage in order to keep
the peace in the adoptive household, even though this made
him deeply unhappy. But the Bad Gene had finally stopped asking
questions which his adopters considered a Good Thing.
adoptive child-raising technique is called Bringing Up the
Mystery Gene with Standards and Values that with enough negative
reinforcement, will convert Nature to Nurture within about
18 years. When this grim technique works out well, the adopted
person becomes a smug, blaming, self-righteous little prig
who sneers at his natural mother, wherein his adopters congratulate
themselves on having done a fine job. It means they have won
the battle with the Rogue Gene.
even more desirable conversion is when an adopted child shows
positive behaviors and academic gifts. The adopters heave
a sigh of relief and warmly welcome the Bad Gene's opposite
number, Nurture, which has chased away Nature and left a malleable
child in its place. Nurture can show itself in musical, academic
or sports talents, according to adopters. Sometimes it manifests
as Saintly Behavior, that can be mistaken for approval seeking
behavior, but fortunately seldom is - as someone from outside
the family may wrongly attribute that approval seeking trait
to Nurture. But that seldom happens.
Nurture makes terrible mistakes that end with death or injury
to the adopted child. This is considered rather unfortunate
but is shrugged off as happening in all families, not just
adoptive ones. Well, thank goodness for that.
when the adoptive person rebels, refusing to accept the definition
of themselves or their mother as Bad, it is clear to all that
Nature has licked Nurture and the long battle for Decency
has been lost. The adopters first clue as to the cause of
their problems were things the adopted boy was saying, such
as "If I'm adopted, where is my real mother?" and "Why didn't
she want me?" - questions like that. They didn't know how
to answer which just endorsed the existence of the Bad Gene
lurking inside 'their' son. If they had shared the same Gene,
they would have known what to say. Actually, if they had shared
the same Gene, there would have been no mystery. But they
didn't and anything they told him just seemed to make the
situation worse. It was therefore quite clear that the Bad
Gene came from the Gene Tree of the natural family and not
their own. It couldn't have. After all, no one in their family
had ever behaved like that.
During an adolescent identity crisis the boy stopped learning
completely and was subsequently diagnosed with Attention Deficit
Disorder (ADD). This was attributed to the drugs and alcohol
his mother had no doubt consumed during her pregnancy. The
boy was notified of this factual evidence of the Bad Gene
that had jumped from his mother into his head and disrupted
his learning processes. This sensitive information sharing
is known as Christian Love in many adoptive homes. Needless
to say the son soon gave up the struggle to learn. Perhaps
he realized he had learned quite enough already, which shows
just how smart he really is.
This Mystery Gene is a real Trouble Maker. The longer it stays
around the worse it gets. It can force a teenager to drive
too fast, drink alcohol and use other drugs (just like the
boy's mother) and stay out well beyond curfew time. Teeth
that don’t grow straight and require expensive orthodontic
treatment can always be attributed to Nature. Everyone knows
that Nurture is not responsible for crooked teeth, although
Nurture is responsible for paying the dental bills. Nature
gets bad grades and talks back. It can be sullen and resentful
when lied to about its origins. Most of all, it can be Ungrateful,
which is often the easiest way to identify it. Luckily, adopters
are good at spotting it hanging around their home.
But the most reliable way to identify the Mystery Gene is
when the adopted child, now grown into a lanky adult - or
a short one - who may not resemble his or her adopters, brings
home the unwanted news of an unexpected and unplanned pregnancy.
The Mystery Gene has surfaced once again. Just like his/her
mother, completely irresponsible. Nothing to do with Nurture,
especially the adopters lack of responsibility in failing
to provide adequate education regarding fertility, as one
might expect them to do as a parenting duty. But I suppose
that's an occupational hazard of being an adopter - it must
be so tempting to forget the potential dangers of fertility
associated with Nature, that old Rogue Gene that just won't
This in-your-face fertility is the worst thing the Rogue Gene
can do. The situation frequently ends in yet another adoption,
which is the only way to get the Rogue Gene under control.
You actually have to breed it out of existence if you want
it to shut up. If the purpose of the boy's adoption was to
obscure the adopters infertility problem, then the Rogue Gene
was really asking for its own obliteration - and so brought
its expulsion from this Sacred Adoptive Family Unit upon itself.
But what beats me is - how did this boy's mother - this socially,
educationally, economically challenged young woman with such
incredibly high-risk behaviors, even live long enough to give
birth to her son in the first place?. Adopters know for a
fact she would have stopped off on the way to the trailer
park to shoot up, get drunk, have sex with goodness knows
who, then crash the stolen car she was joyriding in, along
with her equally worthless friends.
And given the poverty status of most first mothers during
pregnancy, how they and their families could even afford to
support the expensive Bad Habits of that Evil Gene is the
Real Mystery. It is perplexing. Social workers, researchers
and policy makers should look into this. The Mystery Gene
will still be there, waiting to be noticed. I think it's just
been trying to get their attention, all along.