I was planning to write about this before and then a conversation at lunch today sealed the deal.
Saturday I was interviewed at a college. They asked me to give them one word that defined me (I hate those questions, don't you? They box you in so much.) I said 'sister'. I was mostly thinking about my own big family and how they would probably like that definition since the program I was interviewed for calls themselves a family, but now that I think about it, I like it better and better. In church, people always refer to other Christians and 'Brothers and Sisters'. So, that definition also expands to the idea that I am a sister in Christ to so many special, wonderful people. I love that way of thinking about it as well.
My friends often call us a "Tim Team family" (ask me later if you need an explanation of Tim Team). While I would agree that we certainly are very close to one another and share lots of fun moments, I shrinking from calling us a 'family', because in my mind a family means a married couple and their children, if they have any. However, I feel free to call them my Tim Team 'sisters'(or 'siblings', if Dave wishes to be included in the bunch) because they are not only my sisters in Christ but sisters in my heart.
I don't wish to seem legalistic or limiting, but my family is very precious to me, and so I don't use the word lightly. The relationships in a family cannot come close to anything outside of that actual blood relationship(and I don't mean just my immediate family, I have a link to my extended family that is ALSO different but can still claim the name).
So, if you don't mind, I prefer to be your sister rather than your family. I see a connotative distinction between the two. It's a personal preference, but my relationship with my immediate and extended family is special to me in a different way than any friendships could be.