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Olympic Nature

The debate about nature vs. nurture is ever-present in adoption.  People have long surmised that heredity plays a bigger part in the development of a child than rearing and nourishment.  Two sisters from Minnesota might dispute that fact. 


Greg and Robin Brandt, like many couples who experience infertility, began planning to adopt.  They chose to adopt from South Korea.  But while in the process of adopting Marissa, they got the news that Robin was pregnant.  They were overjoyed at being able to raise their babies together.  Marissa, now 25 and Hannah, now 24, are both competing in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic games.

The girls started their skating careers as ice skaters.  Hannah soon became more interested in Hockey and Marissa eventually followed.  They both played Hockey in college, Hannah attending the University of Minnesota and Marissa choosing to play for Gustavus Adolphus College. Hannah even went on to play for the Minnesota Whitecaps, a professional team.

Then came to surprise call to Marissa.  One of South Korea’s hockey coaches had figured out that, because of her birth, Marissa would be eligible to play for the South Korea Olympic Hockey team and she was asked to come to South Korea for a tryout.  Meanwhile, Hannah tried out and made the U.S. Olympic Hockey team.  Two sisters skating for two different countries in the same Olympics.  What are the odds of that?

North Korean athletes are playing with the South Korean team in a show of unity by the athletes.  The Korean team is not ranked as highly as the U.S., so it’s not likely they will play one another in the Olympic games, but both girls will be on the ice representing the Brandt family.  In this case, nature doesn’t appear to be a factor in the development of two exceptional athletes who are sisters, but biologically unrelated.  They were raised to be the best they could be and they are proving that being adopted is not a limitation or an advantage.  They had to earn it.