Marlene Wright refuses to turn her back on her troubled boys. When it comes to nature vs. nurture, which has more influence on a child’s life?
After losing her 14-year-old son in a cycling accident and struggling for years with infertility, Marlene Wright and her husband Alan decided to look into adoption. In 1990, they welcomed two half-brothers named Paul, 7, and Simon, 5, who had grown up neglected and physically and mentally abused, into their home. Marlene and Alan tried to give the boys the best life possible. Yet they followed in their birth mother’s footsteps by becoming heroin addicts with criminal records. Sounds like nature was a lot stronger than nurture in this instance. What do you think?
“Alan and I believed that when it came to nature versus nurture, the latter would prevail,” Marlene, 64, tells the Daily Mail. “We thought if we gave the boys a new life, they would grab it with both hands. But I was wrong. Nature, and the damage done to the boys, has won. They have followed their mother’s path exactly.” Can a troubled child who faced a terrible early upbringing be transformed by the love of their adoptive parents or will their genetic make-up and past experiences control their future?
“Looking back, I ask myself if I should have spotted the signs,” says Marlene. “But Paul had been very vocal about how much he hated his birth mother for being an addict, so the last thing I expected was that he would follow the same path. A psychiatrist told me that being subjected to heroin in the womb had made the boys more susceptible to addiction,” she adds.
The boys grew up in the Wright’s large house in an affluent neighborhood in York, England and went to a small village school, where they were even a part of the Boy Scouts. But, Paul and Simon had a tendency to get involved in fights and be disruptive in class. Still, Marlene and Alan stood by their side and believed that they would slowly grow into better individuals. But, by the time they reached puberty, the boys were drinking in the streets, stealing and using drugs. By the time Paul was 16, he was addicted to heroin and permanently kicked out of school, along with Simon, who was a heroin addict by age 18.
Paul entered rehab, but was kicked out due to his violent behavior. In 2001, Marlene was diagnosed with breast cancer, that she says was caused by all the stress her sons caused her. But, this diagnosis didn’t change Paul and Simon’s attitude. In 2005, they were drunk and high on drugs when they brutally attacked a friend and then carjacked a vehicle. This incident sent them both to prison, where they have been ever since.
Despite all of this, Marlene and Alan stand by Paul and Simon, now 27 and 25, and refuse to give up on them. But she does have a warning to anyone who is considering adoption. “While I would now advise anyone thinking of adopting children from that sort of background to think hard before doing it, it’s too late for me to do an about-turn.” Marlene explains. “‘We are their parents and we owe it to them to try again. I can say that if anything else happened they would be out on their own, but I’m not sure that would actually happen in reality. A son, adopted or not, is a son. I still want to help and a part of me believes I can. We won’t turn our backs on them.”
HollyMoms, what would you do if you were in Marlene and Alan’s shoes? Could you stand by your adopted children after all of this?