Adoption Bias in Psych Book

I am wondering if David G. Myers is an adoptive dad.

His book Exploring Psychology in Modules – Seventh Edition is being used in my psychology class this semester.

I knew that we would eventually discuss adoption. I did not expect it to be in module 5 and so early in the class.

At first I was pleased.

Page 70, Module 5, Biological Versus Adoptive Relatives

The stunning finding from studies of hundred of adoptive families is that people who grow up together, whether biologically related or not, do not resemble one another in personality. (McGue & Bouchard, 1998; Plomin and others, 1998; Rowe, 1990) Adoptees traits (such as outgoingness and agreeableness) bear more similarities to their biological parents than their care giving parents.

I did not actually need to read this to know this.  My daughters personality, her online persona, her coping skills are shockingly similar to mine (and not my good traits, at least not ones I think are good). She doesn’t know this of course because she doesn’t know me or her story but I ask that you trust me, from my perspective, her approach to things, her written words to me ring bells that are all too familiar sounding to me.

A few more paragraphs down the same page of the book and the author starts questioning if adoptive parenting is a “fruitless” venture. Yes, he actually used those words. Fruitless.  He then talks about the “genetic leash” and finally gets to the good stuff (bolding mine).

Moreover, in adoptive homes, child neglect, abuse and even parental divorce are rare. (Adoptive parents are carefully screened; natural parents are not.) So it is not surprising that, despite somewhat greater risk of psychological disorder, most adopted children thrive, especially when adopted as infants (Benson & other, 199; Wierzbicki, 1993)…As children to self-giving parents, they grow up to be more self giving and altruistic on average. …In one Swedish study, infant adoptees grew up with fewer problems than were experienced by children whose biological mothers had initially registered them for adoption but then decided to raise the children themselves (Bohman & Stigvardson, 1990) Regardless of personality differences between parents and their adoptees, children benefit from adoption”

This paragraph is so loaded with inaccuracies I don’t know where to begin.

Neglect, abuse and divorce are RARE?  I know hundreds of adoptees who beg to differ.  Where did this author get that statistic from?  “Carefully” screening adopters makes them exempt from neglect, abuse and divorce? How does THAT happen? Is there a vaccination against a divorce, neglect and abuse given at the time the home study is stamped for approval? What exactly is meant by “greater risk of psychological disorder”? Is that from the adoption itself or from the natural parents (I do appreciate authors use of that term, btw).  Self-giving parents? WTF is that? Are biological parents not self-giving? Ever?  ONE Swedish study notes fewer problems. What kind of problems? Problems paying for weekly lunch? Can we explain that a bit? Children benefit from adoption? In some cases, yes.  In all cases? I doubt it.

I agree with  some of what the author states. What rankles me is the gross generalization and clear koolaid drinking words. We should, by now, be doing a better job in our text books, shouldn’t we? Are we at all surprised we continue to churn out social workers that believe this crap?

This book was published in 2008. Why can’t we do a better job of showing the positive and negative of adoption?

I intend to write the author and the publisher. If nothing else, it will make me feel better.

8 Thoughts.

  1. Wow — now in the book I’m reading The Life Span: Human Development for Helping Professionals, the adoption discussion is much more reasoned and there is no birth parent bashing or adoptive parent rewarding. That is some crazy bias up in there.

  2. Pyschobabbler – BAHA! That was awesome. Thanks for doing the googling for me. Explains alot, no?

  3. Hiya. I’ve been following you (lurking) for a while. (My best friend is adopted. I’m interested in understanding what makes him tick because his sealed adoption is the prime driver there and what a ride it provides all of us). Anyhoo. I actually sort-of know David Myers (or rather, knew him a decade or so ago). I knew his son tangentially but don’t know if he’s adopted, though it wouldn’t actually surprise me if he were. David Myers is a fairly reasonable person, though, and I actually think he would be very responsive to being educated on the subject. Just my two cents. Definitely write him.

  4. Hey there Suz,

    I actually read this pysch book (in a class, obviously)! And I noticed all the things you noticed. But I wonder what made this author use the word “fruitless” to describe adoptions (which, in my case, is a pretty loaded word), and then go on to praise it. Is any research cited? (I never thought to look) Or is he simply going off his experience (is that even allowed?)

    Interesting though, that he’s religious. The really nutty ones usually are (this is said as a practising Catholic).

    Good post, as usual!

    • Amanda – Not surprising, the offending (to me) passages were not cited with research. Many other sections were. This lead me to believe it was his personal bias (and therefore, inappropriate). As you can see from the comments by psychobabbler, he is indeed religious.

      Hope you are enjoying Italy!

  5. Suz it’s obvious – the answer. We should all adopt out our children, and then go adopt someone elses. It works out sosooo much better for the child that way.

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