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English: Apples on an apple-tree. Ukraine. Рус...

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.

English: Nature vs. Nurture

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