Two Adopted Boys Raised By A Caring Couple Are Now Jailed Drug Addicts — Just Like Their Birth Mother. How Did This Happen?

Tue, February 1, 2011 11:44am EST by 2 Comments

Courtesy of the Wright FamilyMarlene 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?

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

–Leigh Blickley

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Posted at 1:00 PM on February 1, 2011  

Nature over nurture you say? Wrong. Being abused until age 7 is part of nurture, not nature. Being subjected to heroine in the womb is nurture, not nature.

This case proves nothing in that debate! The only thing it proves is that being traumatized in early childhood can still effect your behavior when you are older. Besides, I wonder if these adopted parents were as good as they say they were. Just because they are wealthy doesn’t mean they were great parents.

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Posted at 1:42 AM on June 1, 2011  

Eh, please give them a break. My husband and I adopted a severely prenatally-drug-abused baby girl when she was 6 weeks old (finally big enough to be discharged from NICU) and we are and have been committed to giving her the best life possible. She has been given so many privileges and opportunities and has real talent (singing, piano) yet she chooses to constantly act out in school to the point that she has a “minder’ all the time. Can’t even use the bathroom without being watched or she goes through the trash. She is a teen now and still needs constant supervision. But gets straight A’s. Go figure. It’s really a tough life even if we kept to ourselves but NO, others judge us constantly. She’s of a different race than we are so it’s “OBVIOUS” to others that we are just not treating her right. A little compassion for those people. If you have not walked in their shoes then keep your hateful comments to yourself and go adopt a needy child. Then, come back and share your “wisdom.”

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