Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart is a collection of 70 deeply personal essays written by individuals who have been touched by adoption in some way. Personal, raw, and unique, each story gives a very different glimpse into the way adoption influences our lives, shapes us into the people we become, and leaves a lasting footprint on the world around us.

Compiled by Michelle Madrid-Branch (author of The Tummy Mummy), the personal stories of nearly a hundred individuals are all woven together to create a beautifully crafted, intimate, and raw book that takes the reader on a journey through loss, love, and forgiveness. The reader comes to realize that beautiful things can rise from the ashes of grief and loss, and that—no matter how adoption has influenced our lives—we are in a position to empathize with all other members of the adoption triad. Our stories may not be similar, and our pain may not feel exactly the same, but we are connected and understand each other in a way no one else can.

As an adoptive mom reading this book, I found myself most thankful as I read the stories from birth mothers and adoptees. Because many of the stories are published anonymously, I knew I was given a rare glimpse into some very honest emotions. Though we have an amazing relationship with our children’s birth parents, and they have trusted me with so many of their feelings, this book was a way for me to hear some of the things that may simply be too hard for them to say. I was able to read stories from adoptees who recounted what their adoptive parents had done to make their journey a little easier, and what made them feel supported by their birth and adoptive families. I sat down and read this book all in one sitting, eager to meet the next storyteller, engrossed the entire time. Even though I read it all in one sitting, the stories are so short that they could easily be used as a daily devotional of sorts, allowing the reader to gain a bit of inspiration for their day; there is certainly enough to ponder in each story.

I would recommend this book to anyone touched by adoption in any way. There are meaningful insights to be gained no matter how adoption has influenced your life. I was especially impressed at how varied the perspectives in the book were, as no story seemed identical in detail to the story before it, yet the theme of love was so prevalent within each. There are hard truths buried within some of the stories, which can only stand to make us stronger and more empathetic allies to each other, and we owe it to one another to read and process those truths.

As Michelle Madrid-Branch wraps up her book, she shares a very personal story of how adoption touched her life, and how she has come full circle within her own journey as an adoptee. This is obviously a labor of love for her, and her passion for inclusiveness is evident. She clearly understands how much we all have to learn from each other, and this book helped me realize that we can’t successfully walk this road independently of one another. As she says numerous times throughout the book, “we are a tribe” and together, adoption can be a triumph of the heart.

If you feel compelled to read Adoption Means Love: Triumph of the Heart after reading this review, click here to get a copy of your own!