Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nurture vs. Nature

Have you been following the story about John Barnes of Michigan who thinks he's actually Steven Damman the little boy who was abducted in 1955 at the age of 2? A real-life Cold Case, it's a fascinating story about a toddler who was taken from outside a store in Long Island and never found. More than 50 years later John Barnes, who says he never felt like he belonged to his family, tracked down the sister of the little Damman boy and had a DNA test done. The results of that test say they 'could' be siblings. The police file has now been reopened and the FBI is involved and doing their own DNA testing. The results, which supposedly will have the definitive answer of who's who, won't be done for a couple months. I can't wait to hear the end of this story.

I have always been fascinated by genetics. Not the actual science but just what I can observe in people. Maybe this comes from the fact that I have no siblings or biological children of my own. I have 6 first cousins but only one (our mothers were full sisters) that I think I look like. I love it when I have the chance to see children of people I knew as children and have the opportunity to watch their kids to see not just physical resemblances but mannerisms that remind me of their parents.

I recently had the chance to spend the afternoon with the half-sister of a long-time friend of mine. I had not seen D since she was about 17 and she's now 37. I've known her half-brother since we were in 6th grade but they did not grow up together. They never spent much time together, and I don't believe they've even seen each other in over 25 years.

I found D on Facebook and was thrilled when she accepted my Friend request. I wasn't sure she would remember me. We exchanged a few emails and then got together for lunch. While we visited and chatted for a few hours I was stunned when I saw mannerisms and expressions that were just like her brother! A couple times it was so distinctive that I was a little distracted from the conversation, and I wonder whether she wondered what I was staring at! I never told her what I was thinking but maybe I will send her a link to this post and see what she has to say.

As I said, genetics is a fascinating subject for me, and it really makes me think about what is in that red stuff coursing through our veins.

Image from Google Images


Alex the Girl said...

It makes you wonder, doesn't it. I wonder if she'll have lunch with that weird woman who kept zoning out while starring at her ever again.

I think what amazes me about DNA is how the police can use it to solve a crime that was committed years, if not decades, ago. It is truly a fascinating science.

Sandy said...

Alex, only time will tell. They have taken all the sharp utensils out of my kitchen so that will be a start. As for DNA, why does it take the FBI 2 months for a test result when CSI gets it in 59 minutes??

Alex the Girl said...

Because the FBI gets paid by the hour while CSI is on salary!

Tammy Howard said...

I am really fascinated by this as well. I am adopted, so my family tree starts with me. I think both of my girls resemble the hubs more than they do me, but there are a lot of folks who beg to differ. And I know very well that they have a lot of my mannerisms.

Just last night I was out with the hubs and my sister (adopted as well) and her hubs. We were talking about my eldest and I mentioned her insecurity. My BIL says, "why is she so insecure" and my sister, husband and I all said in (almost) perfect unison, "It's genetic!"

Pam said...

This story fascinates me, too! As I was watching it on The Today Show this morning, I was thinking I sure hope they tell us how this pans out two months from now. What killed me was the word "could" be siblings. Aren't these things usually must more definite than that. And also has anyone ever searched for John Barnes birth certificate? If he really is Stephen Dammon, then there shouldn't be a birth certificate for a John Barnes - born to those parents at that time. Unless of course they had a son who died. But still has anyone checked. Sheesh! I should be a detective!

Eve said...

I am fascinated by this story also. I do wonder why he didn't have his DNA checked with his family who raised him first. Seems it would have been pretty easy to get some DNA from them, even without their knowledge.

I grew up with 9 siblings; 8 were girls. I haven't lived in my hometown where I grew up for 40 years. Yet, every time I would go back to visit, I could be in pratically any store and someone would come up to me and just start talking like they knew me. Over the years I've learned to say, 'you probably think you're talking to one of my sisters.' It's kind of fun, since I've been known to have a little fun with them from time to time by playing along for a while. LOL! I know we all look a lot alike, but I think our mannerisms are even more alike.

croneandbearit said...

You always give me something to think about and I love reading your posts. Come see me; I've left a little surprise for you at my blog. Hugs!

Sandy said...

Tammy, is that a case for the Nature vs Nurture question?

Pam, I saw all those descrepancies or holes in the guy's story, too. He didn't seem like the type who was out there for the 15 minutes of fame but maybe that's some of it. Time will tell.

Eve, Again, all sorts of questions and checks the average person would do like looking for a birth cert. You must really look like your sisters if people are still mistaking you for each other even as adults. Can't imagine what that would be like! Thanks for stopping by.

Crone, thank you! I'm on my way there now..

Anita said...

Sorry I'm just reading this today, but yes I too was fascinated by the story. I'm curious about genetics and nature vs nurture, I have two incidents. My two sisters are 11 months apart, raised by the same parents, etc, but are so VERY different......its' amazing. More so that just your normal sibling differences. The other case would be my twin girls. They are identical, the egg split, one embryonic sac, and yet as they have grown while it's uncanny how they physically are so much alike their personalities are so different. Just give me something to think about.


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