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Forever Lily

May 20, 2008

An Unexpected Mother's Journey to Adoption in ChinaI reviewed  Forever Lily by Beth Nonte Russell on my adoption blog over a year ago and while going through my archives recently I realized that I never posted about it here on my book blog. As most of you already know, my youngest daughter Maya was adopted from China last year. I figured that since some of my book blog readers are cross-overs from my adoption blogging days (which is few and far between now) I would post about it here.

March 2007: I came upon Forever Lily at the bookstore just a few short days ago and was immediately drawn to the cover art. Forever Lily is a true story, based on Nonte Russell’s own experience, and is tagged as her “unexpected journey into adoption.” The author  became a travel companion for a friend adopting from China. Her friend, Alex, did not bond with the baby and decided (while still in China) that she no longer wanted to bring the baby home.

What I initially thought might be an interesting and thought provoking look into the inner-workings and emotions of international adoption, turned out to be a poorly written and somewhat contrived book.

The book is filled with dream sequences and meditative hallucinations that the author says she had throughout her travels in China. Whether or not she had these vivid dreams, or her “inner visions” as she calls them, seems beside the point of the story. These dreams, while an obvious attempt for the author to link herself to her Chinese daughter, not only distracted from the story but became ridiculous. Filled with Chinese symbolism (monks, concubines, empresses, dragons) and even the Virgin Mary, her visions made me think I was reading an Amy Tan novel. 

I was touched by the author’s description of an orphanage and was glad that the book could give me some insight into the poor conditions that these children live in. Having said that, I was less impressed by the portrayal of Alex, the women who decided not to take the baby. I really would have like to have known, from a psychological perspective, why this woman immediately rejected this baby.    

It is no great secret that the author was able to legally adopt the baby a few months after coming back from China. The love and bonding that Nonte Russell obviously feels for Lily is touching. She rearranged her entire childless life (her step-daughter was already in college) in order to bring this baby home. I only wish that the book itself was a little more informative and less wishy-washy.

For a much more in-depth and interesting look at China adoptions, check out The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans. For a completely different review of this book, check out The Insatiable Reader.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2008 3:24 pm

    Ok, firstly, this book sounds like tripe. How come everyone who’s ever had an interesting and/or unusual experience feels like that’s a ticket to author-y fame? You have to be able to WRITE as well, people. Hire a ghostwriter.

    And secondly, squeeeeeee! Good for you for adopting! I have this dream of one day not being able to have children, which was formerly a nightmare of mine but will now be an excuse to adopt any and all children that come my way. Which isn’t to say that if I CAN have kids, I won’t still adopt, because who DOESN’T want a tiny Chinese baby girl?

  2. May 21, 2008 4:36 pm

    Raych – Actually, my oldest daughter is biological and we adopted our second daughter not because of fertility issues, but just because we really wanted to adopt. It is really an awesome way to build a family!

  3. May 21, 2008 8:20 pm

    Hi Stephanie,

    My brother-in-law is adopted from Russia, and I purchased this book for my mother-in-law. I never asked her opinion about it, but after reading your review, I’ll be interested to see what she thought!

    I also saw your post on Courtney’s blog about templates. I don’t know how Courtney did it, but I hired a graphic designer to design my logo, then had my web designer make it into a template. Her name is Mia Pearlman, and her rates are very competitive. I wish I could tell you how to do it, but if you’re thinking about hiring someone, she whipped mine up in no time!

  4. May 21, 2008 10:40 pm

    Too bad about the writing. One of my college professors went to China to adopt her daughter and what a gift it was to her (well, to both of them). Thanks for sharing.

  5. May 24, 2008 9:33 pm

    I have two close friends who adopted from China, and have heard much about their experience. One of them returns to China each summer to teach English, and last year took his daughter (now age 10) back to visit the village where she was from. It was quite an experience for her.

    I’ve seen this book, and thought about purchasing it for them as a gift – but perhaps the other book you mentioned would be better for them.

    Thanks for an excellent review.

  6. May 25, 2008 12:16 pm

    Ravenous Reader – I hope that we will be able to bring Maya back to China when she is around 10 years old too. It would be nice to experience the whole trip again. In the meantime, my husband’s family lives in Hong Kong and we will probably travel back there in a year or two!

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