Our home is a living laboratory. Raising adopted children makes one wonder: just how much of a child’s personality is inherited through his or her genes and how much is learned from the surrounding environment? My husband, a high school teacher, works with the tough kids. He loves them, but on more than one occasion, after meeting a parent, I have heard him say, “Well, now I know where that behavior comes from.”
The proverbial “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is always in the back of my mind as I watch my children grow. As it turns out, my five-year-old adopted daughter is a lot like me—she’s organized, great with words, a natural teacher, and a bit bossy. As I watch these personality traits develop within her, I find myself wondering: “Did she get those traits from her biological mother or father, or is she learning them from me?” Not knowing her biological parents, though, I really can’t know the answer.
I do recognize, however, that God in his goodness saw to all of this when he knit our family together. He chose our daughter and son for us. Psalm 139:16 tells me God’s “eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in [his] book before one of them came to be” (NIV). He knew me before I was born and he knew my children as well. He saw the map of all of our lives spread out in front of Him before we ever existed. He ordained the circumstances that brought us all together.
From this perspective, perhaps it doesn’t matter whether we are like our mom or dad, or aunt or grandfather, because God is in charge of it all. Whether our families are biological, or grafted together through adoption or remarriage, we are all in a process of becoming. Perhaps the truth is that we are a little of both: God-given nature and God-ordained nurture.
~ Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton
Catherine Lawton said:
Thanks, Kyleen. Nature vs Nurture (or Inheritance vs Environment) is an apropos subject.
A common topic of conversation when families get together is “whose nose is like whose” and “who takes after mom or dad” or “who got Grandma’s sense of humor,” etc. But in adoptive families that conversation is limited. It can be fun, though, for adopted kids to wink and tell people, “Don’t I look like my dad?” while proudly hugging him. That is how my mother was. She was adopted and she really didn’t “look like” either adoptive parent. But she picked up her adoptive father’s gregarious, smiling, musical ways. They would sing duets in church and people would say she was just like her dad.
Since “Journeys to Mother Love” was published I finally found and met some of my mother’s birth family. Quite a milestone in my life! It cleared up some of the Nature/Nurture mystery. Maybe I’ll write a post about that sometime soon.
Thanks for your comment Catherine! Family is a journey no matter how it is put together! There are those who are biological and yet feel nothing like either parent! I just feel blessed to get to raise my two children!
Catherine Lawton said:
You are blessed, Kyleen. And we are blessed to have your experience and perspective as part of this blog and the book. … And your children are blessed to have you as their mommy!