Missing something here

I’m no believer in genetic determinism.  But surely one’s genetic endowment matters.  A lot.  It’s kind of preposterous that this article on the struggles of adopted kids doesn’t even bring it up:

Being adopted can be one of the best things to happen to a kid. People who adopt tend to be wealthier than other parents, both because of self-selection and because of the adoption screening process. Adoptive parents tend to be better-educated and put more effort into raising their kids, as measured by things like eating family meals together, providing the child with books, and getting involved in their schools.

And yet, as rated by their teachers and tests, adopted children tend to have worse behavioral and academic outcomes in kindergarten and first grade than birth children do, according to a new research brief from the Institute for Family Studies written by psychologist Nicholas Zill…

Adoptive parents go to great lengths to do a great service. Why are their young kids’ behavior and test scores nonetheless worse, on average?

One clue might be attachment theory, which holds that a strong bond with at least one nurturing adult—usually the mother—is essential to a child thriving. That adult can be the adoptive parent, but the adoption itself might mean that the bond with the birth parent was disrupted or never formed, Zill writes. In the worst cases, these children might have experienced a traumatic event prior to their adoption. Early trauma can affect the parts of the brain that control mood and learning.

Actually, early childhood issues may very well be a lot of it.  But to completely ignore the fact that adopted kids probably come from less smart and/or disciplined parents and go to more smart/disciplined parents seems to me missing a potentially significant portion of the equation.  Lots of good research on this in my favorite parenting book.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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