“Will my family accept my adopted child?’ prospective adoptive parents often ask me at our initial consultation. This photo of my mother’s 85th birthday party says it all.

To celebrate her eight-and-a-half decades, my mother wanted her daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren to toast her. Little did she know there would be more roasting than toasting!

“Close your eyes and let me lead you through a meditation.” So began my twin sister’s and my sons’ toasts in an unrehearsed synergy that captured my wonderful, unconventional mother perfectly.

As we went around the table, a striking depiction of an extraordinary life emerged. The themes that recurred were that Mom was a creative and exuberant iconoclast, uninhibited, adaptive, forward-thinking, and a fierce champion of her children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren, helping all of them to be their best.

So what if she lost my sons at Disney World; taught anthems to my Brownie troop painfully off-key; was the only grandmother to parade around camp in a bathing suit on Visiting Day; performed secret Tarot card readings for her grandkids’ friends during sleepovers; or asked her son-in-law-to-be piercing questions about his career within minutes of meeting him? Her love and joie de vivre reverberated through the generations.

In this exuberant photo of the celebration, you can’t tell who is adopted, who is a biological relative, or who is an in-law.  All you can see is love binding a family together.