As an adoptive father I have constantly considered what is the extent of my influence on my children.
How much is personality and character inherited from biological parents?
How much is forged in the challenges of early life leaving an imprint that cannot be erased regardless of the positives that are then implemented?
What influence have Mrs C and I had on our children, would they have turned out the same regardless of which model of parenting we had implemented?
Nature or nurture?
Speaking to a foster carer recently she used the phrase we "We have learned how to manage X's behaviour, not change it". As she spoke the words made me consider my children.
Back in '98 starting our adoption journey I believed we could make a difference, that with love, consistency and appropriate boundaries we could make a positive difference in our children's lives.
Do I believe that now? I'm not sure.
My understanding of the implications of neglect, physical and emotional abuse have increased.
My insight into the minds of my children and how their experiences have affected their view and responses to the world around them is second only to Mrs C's.
My ability to help them negotiate their world is better, more articulate and more informed than it has ever been.
We've had fun, good times and happy times.
We've had tricky times too.
But have I changed them?
I'm not sure, looking at some of my older children as they grow into adulthood. I see the shadows that have grown with them.
My influence diminishes and my help and guidance is not as welcome, appropriate or acceptable as it once was.
I can't and won't manage their behaviour anymore.
So they have to make their own choices and over the next few weeks our 'nearly adult' moves on, not out of choice but necessity.
We believe we have done our best and our friends and family echo that sentiment, but to be honest, it rings hollow.
And we're left wondering what difference we've made, perhaps we were just managing behaviour.