My answer probably changed a thousand times over the years. I once thought a family was your real mom and real dad along with siblings, I also thought family were the people you were related to and so on but over the years the definition truly has changed.
I didn't grow up with my mom and my dad in the same household as they separated when I was about 3, I then got introduced to my step dad who basically took over. To say the least I wasn't a stranger to a blended household but it never really hit me until I became a mother myself; in my mind I still wanted to give my child a "real" family with the mom and dad in the same household along with my kids having the same parents. Reality set in when I did the complete opposite of what I wanted, messing around with someone not really thinking about the outcome or even the future and had a baby. I knew early on before my daughter was even born that she would be going in between two different households, it was tough for me and still is sometimes if I can be honest. At times I felt like I failed her before she was even born but I also knew in my heart that things are set up according to His will for my life and I went on the path God directed ahead for me even if it was hard at times. My family consists of something completely different from what I would ever expect but I can't even imagine it any other way. I have someone who loves Avianna like his own and she is also so loved when she's over there with her dad; WE all are her family.
Now lets speak on this from a different perspective....
We all have friends that we consider family right?
We all have family members that we don't really mess with right?
One thing that I've learned recently from my partner is that you are in control of who your family is. YOU get to choose!! Sure, blood makes you related to someone but even then people don't consider certain people they share the same bloodline with for whatever reason but will call their friends family and there's a reason for that. So back to what I was trying to say - YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF WHO YOUR FAMILY IS. You get to a place where you create your own family, whatever that looks like for you.
To me -
family are the people who show up for you and your kids every single day.
family are the people who NEVER gives up on you.
family are the people who will be there through all of the stages & phases of your life.
family are the people who will love you and support you through everything.
family are the people who will still be right by your side even if they don't agree with your decisions.
That love has to run deep. I've considered a lot of people "family" whether it was close friends or even my own real family members. It's different now because I'm more selective with who I consider my family; if I make a decision that you happen to disagree with or if I disappoint you or if my life is set up differently than yours and you're still by my side loving me through everything then you're family but if you can't... I'm not even too sure what to call that.
One thing that I will say though is -
Love on your people.
Don't leave them hanging.
Check on your people.
Support your people.
Appreciate who you have in your life RIGHT NOW and stop worrying about the ones that left. In order for you to grow or move forward in life don't think that you need anybody who left to go further because you don't. God gifted you with the people in your life right now for a reason so continue to water those relationships.