My sister's getting married next summer.
As part of having one of our pastors officiate, she and her fiance took a pre-marriage class on Sundays most of this semester. The last week was a panel discussion with more experienced couples fielding questions. One question was about blended families- one of them already had two kids. Should they consider these "their children", or will their always be a rift? Should they have biological children with each other to form a better bond, and complete their 'family'?
One side of the argument is the idea of them having kids together in addition to the two stepchildren that would already be living with them, from a previous marriage- seeing procreating as an important part of the marriage relationship. The other is thinking that the definition of 'family' transcends genetics and blood-relations- seeing parenting- building into the next generation together- as the important part, passing on values rather than DNA. This issue got me thinking about what 'family' is.
To me, 'family' has more to do with the love and care of each other than whom gave birth to whom. Adopted children (or stepchildren) are as much 'children' in a family as biological ones. I occasionally stop by Owlhaven, a blog kept by a mother of 10 kids- 6 of them adopted from far corners of the world. Hers is a beautiful, colorful family.
There are certainly biological parents who have done very little 'parenting'. A family is all about creating a place of security and fidelity, of forgiveness and investment (those were the points of the sermon about family today, by the way). I have wonderful parents, but have had other 'parents'- adults in my life growing up who also created a loving haven for me. There are single people I know who have many, many 'children'- kids they have invested and built into, and created a safe environment for. I respect them very highly, because they really understand what Family- and the Church Family- is all about: taking care of each other & loving each other to Jesus.