Longtime SL blogger Alicia Chenaux has a fascinating post which helps illuminate a remarkable phenomenon in Second Life: The existence of virtual families, in which groups of SLers roleplay as traditional nuclear families with a mother, father, and two-three kids. (With the children being roleplayed by adults who've shrunk down their avatars to a kids' size.) For Alicia, becoming a virtual mother was inspired by a painful limitation in her real, offline existence:
It has always been a big deal to me that I haven’t been able to have children. In fact, it sent me into a depression for a long time after I found out that it just wasn’t going to happen for me. And adoption, unfortunately, is not in the cards for me in RL for various reasons. Also, my immediate family is very small. I have never had a sibling close to my age because my sisters were quite a bit older than me when I was born, so I was basically raised as an only child. It’s just my parents and me now, and the rest of our extended family all live very far away.
So when Alicia partnered with someone in Second Life, they "adopted" a couple of children -- all of whom know each other (to some extent) in real life, all with the knowledge and support of Alicia's real life boyfriend: