We are family – we live, we love, we laugh, we argue, we make up, and we do it all all over again the next day. Like any other family, we are consumed with school, work, sports, activities, family, friends, and all the outside influences that find their way into our home. We call each other husband, wife, mommy, daddy, daughter, and sister. We enjoy a lot of the same things and, as individuals, we take each other on journeys as we discover new interests that we wish to share with one another. Our breakfast table resembles a somewhat chaotic assembly line (aka the Family Circus cartoon if you’re old enough to remember that one) as we frantically make our way out the door each morning to our respective destinations, still managing to make time for goodbye kisses no matter if we’re running to the bus or our car wearing scowls or smiles. Our dinner table resembles a TV talk show complete with four co-hosts, award winning (and sometimes award-whining) entertainment, debates, drama, and hijinks, as we discuss the news of the day. Without a doubt, we present as a package deal.

And yet, there’s no denying that when we pose for a photo at holidays or birthdays or whatever days, we are a family that doesn’t look alike. We all share a similar shade of hair and three out of four of us sport dark eyes, but beyond that, there are more differences than there are similarities. Two of us tend to be on the pale side, while two of us tend to maintain a healthy tan year round. Our noses take different shapes and everything down to our toes is of our individual ancestors’ design.

When our girls were a bit younger and we were blurry-eyed from lack of sleep and buried deep in the day-to-day of tending to all the needs that come with toddlers turning into elementary school children, was the first time the matter of what we looked like first appeared in our world. It was when a couple of classmates had noticed on a crafting volunteer morning that mommy and daughter didn’t match and refused to give up asking why this was so that reminded me that we didn’t look alike. It was soon after, on an online school website that my daughter chose a (in her words) “brown” avatar to represent herself rather than the “peach” one. Because, after all, me and sissy are brown, and mommy and daddy are peach. And so we are!

This true fact has gifted us with the opportunity to discuss multicultural and transracial families through adoption and marriage, our daughters’ adoption stories, birth families, as well as race, racism, bias, prejudice, civil rights, injustice, sacrifice, acceptance, strength, and pride. It has prompted both positive and negative feelings and provided us the chance to reinforce the importance of inner beauty while celebrating outward appearance.

Still, as a family, we are more than outward features, but rather we are made up of the past nine years of being that family – the highlight reels and the downfalls that have bonded us and tried to break us. We are too-early-morning energy and giggles. We are later-than-late nights still up with stuffy noses and bad dreams. We are first steps and first bites. We are shy hugs and burrowing into mommy’s arms for safety. We are nervous squeals anticipating daddy’s silly antics. We are last times in diapers and first times in big girl beds. We are disappointed tears when things don’t turn out. We are bigger-than-our-faces smiles when things go better than expected. We are searching for a beloved 1-inch toy throughout every square inch of the house, to holding in a scream while stepping on said toy in the dark of night. We are helping to finish up a forgotten project the morning it’s due. We are new schools and new friends. We are “I’m not a baby anymore” and “but mom, will you still brush my hair?” We are exceeding expectations and still needs improvement. We are all of the things that make a family a family and yet – we are a family that doesn’t look alike.

But more importantly, to each of us, we are a family that does all of these things together. All of the things that matter. We are a family that recognizes our differences, but also recognizes our sameness. In spite of outward appearance, we search inward for our shared strength. We are a family that lives, loves, laughs, argues, makes up, and does it all all over again the next day.