NEW YORK (CNN) — Family is everything, even when you're not officially one anymore.
Victoria Baldwin, her ex-husband Adam Dyson and their 4-year-old son Bruce continue to take a professional family portrait together, despite the fact that Baldwin and Dyson divorced a couple of years ago.
It just makes sense to keep the tradition going, Baldwin said, despite the divorce, because she and Dyson share the ultimate bond.
"We are not in love, we don't always agree, we're not best friends, sometimes we don't even like one another," she wrote in a Facebook post that went viral. "But you know what we are? We are forever connected because of our beautiful, smart, kind, compassionate, funny son."
Their photo tradition stretches back to before Bruce was born. One photo features the then-married Dyson with Baldwin when she was pregnant with Bruce. A later pic shows them with Bruce as a baby.
After the divorce, Baldwin, who serves in the military in Alaska (Dyson lives in South Carolina), wanted to keep the photos going.
"We'd had family photos taken in the fall of 2013, before Bruce had even turned 1; fast forward through a 5-month deployment, subsequent separation and divorce by the spring of 2015, and I realized we hadn't had formal photos taken other than cell phone photos," she told CNN. "I booked a session for Bruce and I, and sent a message to Adam asking if he wanted to come along, so he could get photos with Bruce as well. He agreed it was a great idea and at least a family photo together seemed like a natural decision."
It's a beautiful concept that's produced beautiful pictures. But it leads to a natural question: What happens with these photos after Baldwin or Dyson brings someone new into their lives?
They'll just be included, she said.
"Neither of us have entered in long-term relationships since our divorce," Baldwin said, "but we both agree that a family photo in the future would happen, and we'd also take a photo with (new significant others) included."
Positive and negative
Ever since the post and pictures went viral, Baldwin said she has heard from people (especially fellow moms) from as far away as India and Australia, and their story and photos have made the news in South Africa, the UK and Canada.
"I have gotten a handful of messages from moms going through similar experiences, who have asked if I have any advice on how to improve their co-parenting relationships," Baldwin said. "To know that I have positively impacted the lives of strangers, given them hope for their own future — it's truly humbling, and I'm proud to know we could make a positive impact!"
Of course, the reaction hasn't been all positive — this is social media, after all — and Baldwin admits to being a little taken aback by negative online comments.
"It's very hard to see people commenting that I am damaging or confusing Bruce," she said. "If they only knew! He's such an amazing kid, I have zero concerns that what they say is true. However, it's still not easy to read."
Despite all that, Baldwin feels the photos are helping her son deal with his parents' breakup.
"I think he feeds off the example that Adam and I set for him," she said. "He does love when we are both together, but he also loves special moments with mom and dad individually as well."
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