This I Believe
I believe that you can choose your family. The family into which you are born–or the children who enter your family through birth are merely the starting point. I believe that blood relatives can sometimes prove to be toxic and can, even should, be purged from your life if they do not enrich it. Family is a structure of intertwining obligations and responsibilities. However, holding yourself to a set of standards towards another person, when they do not embrace the same standards, is physically, financially, and emotionally draining and ultimately unhealthy.
My parents have two birth children. They provided a good home for both of us as children and have continued to provide a support system to both of us as needed. This has fostered a good relationship between myself and my parents, but my brother feels only resentment and anger towards my parents. After much anguish and many unhappy exchanges, usually ruining what were supposed to be festive occasions, my parents have finally cut ties with him and his wife.
I have many friends from childhood with whom I am closer than I would be with a sister. Any of them would drop everything to help me in a time of need, and I would happily do the same for them. They are my family in every sense of the word.
When you marry, you are choosing your family. My husband and I have gone on to create our own nuclear family in the ten years of our marriage.
We have an adopted son, a chosen child, in addition to our four birth children. His son lives with us and my husband and I happily care for our grandson while his father serves in Iraq. We have two foster daughters right now, teenagers. One has been with us for over a year and we have discussed adopting her, but she does not want to make the commitment, or accept the responsibility of family. I see her becoming a toxic addition, much as my brother became to my parents, so we will allow her to age out of the system and go on her way. The other has expressed a desire to be a part of our family, and my husband and I have discussed adopting her and adding her and her young daughter to our family.
Family is important, but I believe that blood is not necessary for a lifetime commitment of love and support.