The definition of family is very broad, and the ways to grow your family are broad as well. In the most basic terms it is a social unit of bonded people, dwelling together, and living their lives alongside each other. We know that families have parents, children, in-laws, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Some families consider their pets as members, others don’t. Some families are brought together through children, others by marriage, but all are formed by a social unit of people bonded together.
Everybody needs to feel like they belong; everybody deserves to have a special bond with others—it’s what makes us human on the most basic level. But what if the idea of children or adoption isn’t something you’re passionate about getting in to? What if you aren’t able to conceive naturally? Are there other ways to grow your family?
There sure are!
Here is a list of 12 ways to grow your family–without pregnancy.
- Volunteer at a local homeless shelter. Many social connections will be made with other volunteers, and you will feel good about giving back.
- Become a foster parent. This is a way to ease into the idea of parenting with support and guidance to help you. This is also a fantastic gateway into adoption.
- Adopt a pet. Pets are great companions; many people view them as family.
- Help out at a local school–they are always in need of friendly faces and a few extra hands.
- Check with your local hospital about volunteering in the NICU or PICU. The parents and children there will be forever grateful.
- Take up a new hobby and join a group who shares your passion.
- Get involved in your church. Bible studies or prayer groups offer a deep level of connection with others.
- Find a side job working at an animal shelter. You’ll be helping to connect families with their newest members, and you’ll be loving on the animals in the meantime.
- Join a sports club or rec team. Check local municipalities. There are softball leagues and bowling teams among other things in many local towns and cities.
- Head to your local library. Often there are things on their monthly events calendar that you will find you enjoy doing and could meet some great people along the way.
- Visit nursing homes and senior housing in your area. See if they have any public outings coming up that you could attend or offer to help with–older generations have so much wisdom and insight to share that you would be missing out not to do this.
- Check out the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program in your area. See if you can tutor or mentor a local child. The commitment may not be much to you, but it would be life changing to a child in need.
Are you surprised that so many of these options include a large deal of service? Don’t be. Family in itself requires a level of humbleness and service to function. It’s the core of how and why people are bonded. It’s because we all need each other. No one does it alone. That’s not to say you can only build a family with children or adoption because that is not what makes a family. It’s trust and a soft place to fall. Most importantly it’s love. So if you are trying to find that family experience, you first have to create that experience. The benefits of your newly created family (whatever that ends up looking like) will far outweigh any of the effort you make to put it in motion. So get out there friends, your family is waiting!