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What is a chosen family?

A chosen family consists of people within a support network who fulfill the roles of support, teaching, comfort, and kinship. Chosen families are meant to pull people together and have fluidity and adaptability to an individual’s specific role. A chosen family can be as specific as having a chosen mother, father, sibling, cousin based on age, personality, and the nature of the relationship. The roles can also be vague, where not everyone’s role is spelled out. Chosen family has a broad definition on purpose, allowing for the flexibility to expand beyond biological ties or societal labels, actively honoring the relationship and its significance.

How did the term chosen family come about?

A found family or a chosen family is made up of people who intentionally choose to embrace, nurture, and support one another regardless of their biological connection. It is a common term within the queer community where individuals, who have left or have been abandoned by their biological family, create a sense of community and care. This is especially important because many queer youth, after coming out, experience homelessness and lack support, safety, and love.

How is having a chosen family helpful?

One’s chosen family honors a range of experiences and relationships that are part of an individual’s lived experience, building acknowledgement, care, and support outside of the bounds of legal and social norms, that may not be applicable or appealing to “traditional” family structures. Thus, finding and nurturing a chosen family is an active process where one can experience safety, support, love, joy, and belonging.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.