I believe that I am a product of my environment. In my life, I have grown under the guidance and tutelage of my loving parents. They have been my role-models, my mentors, the people I look up, the people who have affected me the most. I know that, as I continue in my life, I am a synthesis of their experiences and events in my personal life. I grow thanks to their gentle, tender care. I learn thanks to their wisdom. But truly is that who I am? Stretching back into the scientific world of firing synapses and chemical reactions, am I Mom plus Dad equals Self, or am I Gene plus Gene equals Hybrid?
I left for my freshman year of college a month ago. I left my parents, my sister, and my home behind, to enter a brave new world half way across the country. I left to become my own person, to exist not as a child/parent hybrid, but as my own adult. It was an exciting experience as I set off to blaze my own trail. I think now to the structure of my personality.
I am not hollow. I exist emotionally as a solid center core, surrounded by a modifiable clay exterior. This rock at my core was not always a hard unchangeable Zach-shaped statue. When I was young, my early childhood development was formed by my parents. Their strong principles and wise upbringing shaped that center. Now as I age, I can still feel myself being molded to the world around me, but those teachings I learned as a small child, they stand strong.
I was adopted. My birth parents, in a great and frankly beautiful act of love, gave me up. In their wisdom and love, they knew that they couldn’t raise me in the best possible way or environment. I was taken and placed in a home where I could. How different of a person I would be if they hadn’t made that choice! Maybe I would have that core. Maybe it would be harder, larger, stronger. Certainly it would be different. I would be different. I would not be in the situation I am in now, with the friends and family I am with. With just that one act of kindness and mercy, I was spared that life, or even spared vastly premature death, and reared into the man I am today.
I know that genetics are part of my personality. I’m at least six inches taller than either of my parents, I have different eyes, my brain is wired differently, but that doesn’t make my birth parents more of my parents than those I call ‘Father’ and ‘Mother.’ In the end, I am my own person. I have my own agency, but I believe, I know, that it is because of one loving choice, and four loving parents, that I am as strong and as capable as I am today.