What does it mean to be adopted? When a child hears that they were adopted and that one or both of their parents are not their biological parents, the child may feel somewhat disappointed or dejected. I can understand that feeling and wonder how I might address that situation - especially when I consider that I am the benefactor of an adoption. Ideally, we want the family life that mirrors the radio and TV hit comedy show, ‘Father Knows Best.’ In reality, life is not a half hour comedy. A person has absolutely no control over the circumstances of their birth. We are, or should be, thankful that someone decided to go through the pain of childbirth to have us regardless of particular circumstances. As an adopted child, someone made the decision to accept you just as you are - that person could have said no. Your environment has a lot to do with the type of person you are. Your environment determines your moral fiber that in term determines your moral compass. Your environment determines your feelings of self-worth that in term will determine how you interact with the people in your life that you have relationships with. Your environment determines your work ethic. When it comes down to it, your environment has more to do with who you are than other factors such as DNA. Of course, DNA is important. DNA determines things such as hair color and hair texture, but my hair is not wholly who I am. There is no acceptance or rejection of DNA. I do have a choice and decision to accept or reject the teachings and instructions of my father. Using my self as an example, my moral compass was determined by my father. I feel good about myself because my father taught me to respect myself and earn the respect of others. I remember simple things my father taught me like never making fun of my elders that happen to be less fortunate than me. When walking with my father if we happen to come across a man that was homeless, my father made me treat that man with respect because he was my elder in spite of his economic condition. My father never allowed me to use the ‘N’ word. I understand that is not important in today’s world to not use the ‘N’ word; however, for me I never use the word to address myself or any other human being. It was not my DNA that taught me to respect myself and others by not using the ‘N’ word - but the environment in which I grew up in established and lead by my father. As I consider my life, I eventually think about Jesus. The earthly father of Jesus had to make a decision to accept the circumstances of Jesus’ birth as well as say yes to adopt Jesus as his son. That was Joseph’s choice. When you consider the lowest common denominator of your situation, someone accepted you and chose to adopt you - to love you as their child. My situation and most probably your situation are just like Jesus’ situation. I try to be the man my father would be proud of because that is how he taught me. I choose to accept the teachings of my father. I am my father’s son. My name is Leon Nicely, the son of John Nicely and Irene Nicely.