Creating a Family {when you don’t have one}

Does family only look like moms and dads, children and grandparents? Often, living so far apart from our loved ones, family is created by relationships forged in our circumstances and seasons. You can flourish in meaningful community wherever you are.

Nervously, I walked in alone and found a seat in the circle of chairs. With nothing to hide behind, I sat down, took a deep breath, and reluctantly began to share our story when my turn came.

“I’m Laurel…my husband and I just submitted our adoption paperwork.”

The mixture of fear and relief that escaped from my soul and out through my eyes was clear. Going through the adoption process is not easy, but I quickly discovered that I was not as alone as I thought.

The members of the adoption support group were a diverse group of folks. Some had biological children and adopted children. Some waiting on adoptions had experienced infertility while others had not. The members were in different phases of life from having crying babies to teens learning to drive (which, in fact, deserves a support group of its own), yet, there was a common bond:

We all had a heart for children in need of forever, loving families.

While many of us were waiting to build our families through adoption, we were creating family with one another. Willing to share our hearts and concerns with each other, pray over one another, and love the members of this family by meeting practical and emotional needs.

Isn’t that so much of what family is all about anyway?

Does family have to be a mom, dad, and their biological children? If so, that leaves out a whole lot of amazing people that have so much to offer as family members. We can create family in so many ways…through our communities, our churches, and our friends. Children are such an important part of family, and there are countless ways to be a part of their lives, and incorporate them into ours, even while waiting for your own little (or big) ones. Here are just a few:

  • Offer the melancholy mama down the road a break, and take her rambunctious toddler off her hands for a few hours a week.
  • Volunteer for Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, and other children’s programs at your church.
  • Be a “par-aunt” to your nieces and nephews….or to the children of your friends.
  • Pour into the lives of the children and youth that surround you. Create family with them and with the families they are already a part of. In the end, you might find that your family is already more complete than you thought.


Laurel Shaler

Dr. Laurel Shaler is a licensed social worker, national certified counselor, and professor at Liberty University. Using southern charm and conversational humor, she speaks and writes on the intersection of faith, culture, and emotional well-being. She and her husband are in the adoption process! You can learn more at

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