Lately I've been thinking a lot about what makes up a family.
This could be because of a lot of reasons, the first being that we have been talking about the importance of a family unit during the transition period from general ed to special ed in my special ed class. The second being that there has been a lot of family stuff lately and a blood relative of a friend of mine pointed out that my family is "quite frankly not a real family" to said friend, when in my opinion they have been a family unit to the core.
Here's what I have decided:
A family is made up of the people who are there for you consistently through the good and bad times in your life. A family member is someone who has seen you cry. And not just sad "at the end of Wall-E" tears, but the loud obnoxious snot running down your face tears. A family member knows that your tongue breaks out in weird gross bumps when you eat strawberries. They know that you hate Will Smith movies and that you require snacks and drinks when you are going to be gone for more than two hours. A family member knows the names of the people in your life. They respect the days that you are in a slump and make the choice to not get out of bed. They are there to celebrate each victory in your life, be it big or small. They are there to carry you through the difficulties. A family to me, is an ultimate support system, who acts on the "Whatever makes you happy" philosophy and respects you as a person who can think and reason for themselves.
To me, a family has NOTHING to do with being a blood relative. A family unit can be made up of blood relatives who aren't crazy, friends who have been there for you without question, teachers who have unconditionally support your growth and development in ways that you can't even begin to realize just yet.
You have relatives through blood, you have a family through choice.