Chosen Families

Most of us are familiar with the standard definition of “family,” that of parents and children living together. There is, however, an alternate definition of family: a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together

In my life, I am privileged, even blessed, to have two families.

The first is my biological one. At its nucleus is the duo formed by my mother and myself – we who had a Gilmore Girls-esque relationship long before the Gilmore girls were created. It extends from there: my stepfather, and his son, my aunts, and their spouses and children, my cousins who less directly related. We don’t always like each other as much as we ought, but always, we love each other, and when we’re together there is conversation, reminiscence, laughter, and copious amounts of coffee.

My second family is my chosen family, and it’s gone through various stages. I had such a family of close friends in California, but even though they were – indeed are wonderful, talented, smart people, I never really fit in. When we moved to Texas, five years ago, I drifted for a while – made some friends, let them slip away – as one does in a new place. We tried to find a chosen family at a local Episcopal church, and while those people were warm and welcoming, again, I didn’t really blend.

A bit over a year ago, while Fuzzy was in Hong Kong, I found the second family I always wanted. They, too, were centered in a church community, but this time the church was Unitarian Universalist, the politics liberal, the minds brilliant, and, like my biological family, copious amounts of coffee are a crucial part of their being. It took me a few months to be completely at ease, but from the first moment I met them, I knew I’d come home.

My first family is my blood family, though they are all in my heart. My second family is one strictly of the heart, and while the two groups mix at times, I’m fine with them being largely separate, because it means I’m surrounded by a depth of caring and kinship that most people never get to experience.

I may never be rich, and I may never be famous, but that’s okay, because I have two families, and that’s a double blessing that can never be matched.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Chosen Families by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.