Is Family Defined by Biology?

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Family means something different to everyone. It is not necessarily defined by biology or blood. Instead, it is defined by the bonds people have for one another whether they are blood relatives or close friends who seem more like family.

Some people are closer to the friends they have made in their lives than they are to their aunts, uncles and cousins. “Family” tends to be those we keep closest to us during the difficult times. They are the ones who stand by our side during the bad times as well as the good. They share the celebrations as well as the heartaches and are privy to our deepest and darkest secrets. Family can imply both a blood connection, as well as connection through experience.

What Defines “Family”?

We all have our perceptions of what family is. For many it is the traditional family unit: Father, Mother, Son and Daughter (or any variation thereof). Others may perceive family to include anyone who they love and want to share their lives with. Sorority and Fraternity members often remain close to their “sisters and brothers” for the rest of their lives, while others keep them as acquaintances. Each person dictates who they choose as family. Some may actually shun their real family to become part of a group that accepts them as they are. The sad fact is, while blood family should be the ones who love us unconditionally, often times they are the ones who first reject a person for being different. When this occurs, the person gravitates towards individuals who will accept them as they are, without question and without prejudice. To them, their new friends often become their only true family.

When Blood Is Not the Tie That Binds

Blood is not always the tie that binds two people together in a friendship. Marriage is just one way that two people can be bound together both as family and as friends. Shared experiences are also ways of establishing connections with another person that can transcend the limits of friendship and create a bond closer than most family members. Stories of individuals being rescued from a life or death situation and then being allowed to meet the person who saved their life is an excellent example. The close friendship that often results is more of a blood bond than most “family” members would understand. Individuals who share traumatic experiences together can also forge these deep bonds. Soldiers from the same unit who experienced combat or other life changing experiences together often claim their comrades are “brothers in arms.” The group who first met as part of the group, leave with an extended family of individuals who they may not be able to imagine living without.

Does Biology Matter?

Biology matters because it is a person’s blueprint, so to speak. A person’s medical history is comprised of his or her parent’s genetics and health problems. Their personal medical history will follow a pattern that was established through the combination of the parents’ medical history. For children who were adopted, finding the health records of their biological parents can be a literal life saver if they are diagnosed with a genetic illness. When it comes to thriving, most children will thrive with or without the input of their biological parents. Children who are adopted get along in life just as if their adoptive parents were the ones who physically gave birth to them. If the child begins to wonder about who their biological parents were, it is important (according to most healthcare professionals) to let them explore and discover their true identity. It allows them to have answers to questions they may have about their birth and why they were placed for adoption. Sometimes the answers to those questions are unpleasant. It is something that must be worked through, accepted and dealt with. Does biology matter? That depends on who is asking the question and whether or not the answer is one that they are ready to accept.

The Importance of Connecting with Blood Relatives

Blood relatives can be both helpful and harmful. They can be there at a person’s highest moments and then immediately find a way to dash their dreams. Sometimes it is more important to delve into the family’s den of secrets than it is to seek revenge or just disown them and walk away. Even though two relatives may not be socially close, they are still bound by blood. The connection is only as strong as a person allows it to be. There may be times when seeking answers within the hearts of other family members may actually help a person heal their own heart and put a few things into perspective. While families are built along a blood line, the many twists and turns that line takes along the way can have a dramatic impact on the future generation. Finding the answers to questions a person has about their past means looking into the hearts and minds of other family members. While it may not always be a pleasant adventure, it can fill in gaps and maybe even ease a person’s mind about certain parts of their family’s past.

Embracing Difficult Family Members

Everyone has the gruff relative that no one likes, or to be honest, is afraid of. Sometimes, those are the family members that you want to get to know if you are looking into your family history or have questions about certain events in your family’s past. Although they may not be the easiest people to get to know, they will more than likely have the most interesting stories to share as well as valuable information. They are, in many cases, also the most diverse. Many times, they were ostracized by other family members because they didn’t always conform or fit the mold of what most people thought they should be. Reaching out to these not-so-friendly family members can open up a whole new world of information about the family that others may not be so willing to share.

Family means something different to everyone. We all have friends we consider to be family and family that we don’t like to claim. The family we build for ourselves is the one we are most comfortable with. It is the group we choose to keep close to home. Whether it is made up of close friends or blood relatives, the word family defines it as a cohesive group of individuals who are strongly committed to one another on a variety of levels. Your inner circle, band of brothers and sisters, or aunts, uncles and cousins, family means home.

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