Occasionally, I look up from the old oak table and see them–a handful of family photos displayed in beautiful frames along the built-in shelves surrounding the dining room window. They feature different snap shots of our whole family, and they include birth families.

With the sun beaming in, I look back down at my children. They’re scraping the remaining spaghetti noodles off their plates with a glob of garlic bread. As bittersweet as it is, I can’t help it.

I smile.

Not only is it entertaining to watch toddlers eat spaghetti noodles with bread, completely in lieu of silverware,  but these every day moments around the dining room table are gentle reminders that our family is built around so much love. The photos that surround us reflect the bittersweet beauty of our family, and how it was created in part through open adoption.  Our memories as a family have been frozen, but the memories with our daughters’ birth families have also been frozen in hundreds of snapshots, forever holding a place in our hearts and in our home.

The fact that they will forever hold that place within our hearts, and especially within our daughters’ hearts, is the reason for the photographs. That’s why we include their birth families in our family photos in the first place.

It’s not easy making these photos happen. Time and distance have impacted our ability to visit as often as we’d like. But when we do get a chance to squeeze them and watch our children interact with their birth families, we always make sure a camera is close by.

Our daughters’ birth families will always be a wonderful extension of our own. And because the times we spend together are fleeting, we choose to capture and preserve them through photographs and proudly display them throughout our home.