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Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mother's Journey…

Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mother's Journey to Adoption in China

by Beth Nonte Russell

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The book is worth reading for the scenes from China and the plight of abandoned baby girls but the dream sequences are simply strange. My advice is to skip the dream passages in italics, they add nothing to the story. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
Beth Nonte Russell shares her story in this personal memoir of her voyage to China with her friend Alex. Alex has been trying to adopt a baby from China for a year and a half, when she gets the approval she chooses her friend Beth to go with her. Beth feels she is an unlikely choice, as they are just casual friends and she hasn't been very close in the last several months, but never a woman to turn down an adventure she agrees.

Alex goes throughout a series of doubt and withdrawals while they are in china, she says she just, "doesn't love this baby". The author takes the reader through her own roller coaster of emotions which are choreographed all too well with the manipulation of her friend Alex. She wants the baby, then she doesn't, wants it, then doesn't- the whole time Beth is falling more and more in love with this delightful baby girl. What could be her fate if not brought back to America? She is already months behind in physical and mental development, and soon will probably just fail to thrive.

I wished I would fall in love with this book, and I didn't. I thought it was interesting, but it was too much about the relationship between the two American women and not enough about the baby's or the orphanages or china. The little glimpses of those things that are there are beautiful and a joy to read about. All of the internal wars between the women- that is something that I could have done without. I think that if you were really interested in international adoption it might be different. This one just wasn't for me, I would have preferred the author to tell of a different adoption that wasn't so much about her relationship with Alex, more about their family, and how the girl ended up being integrated into their family.

Also (not to rip on it) but throughout the book there are dreams, dreams that are supposed to be her past connection with this particular child. It was too strange (and disjointed) and didn't really work for me. ( )
  Bbexlibris | Feb 25, 2009 |
Beth agrees to accompany her friend, Alex, to China to bring home the baby girl she and her husband are adopting. Beth decides to go along for the adventure and it is something she can write about in her journal. Beth feels an instant connection with the baby and with all the baby girls she is leaving in China. Alex is conflicted about the baby and withdraws from the baby. Beth cares for the baby and dreams of being her mother...

I very much enjoyed the story of baby Lily and how she found her home in America. I really felt for the baby girls who are abandoned to orphanages in China. I did not understand the purpose of the dream sequences within the story, I found the story interesting, but I did not really think it fit within the story of Lily. I also did not understand Alex at all, but at least she let Lily go...to find her true mom. ( )
  julyso | Feb 24, 2009 |
Forever Lily is a memoir that begins with Beth Nonte Russell traveling with her friend Alex to China. Alex is going to China to bring home the daughter that she is adopting and asks to Beth to go along with her. Before and during the trip, Beth has vivid dreams of living in China in a past life. Unfortunately, once they have the baby Alex begins withdrawing from her and Beth begins caring for the baby instead. And then comes the time when Alex says she can't take the baby and has changed her mind. Beth has a decision to make and this book takes us through her journey as she realized that she cannot leave the baby behind.
Wow! I had strong feelings about this book but it pulled me into two different directions. The journey that Beth takes the reader on, that she actually experienced for herself is amazing. She shares the horrors of seeing the orphanage where the baby was living and hard it was to walk away from the children living there. It is easy to understand how and why she grows attached to the baby and to see the reasoning on why she doesn't want to leave the baby behind. Also the difficulties she faces with Alex are portrayed which was interesting to read about as well.
On the other hand, I had a hard time with this book at the beginning because of our different belief systems (I guess that is the best way to put it). The author obviously believes in past lives and believes that she was from China in a previous life. She shared her "dreams" that she was having and they were very vivid and detailed. I had a hard time reconciling this until I finally just let go. I decided to read the book with more of the opinion that this was her beliefs and even if I was skeptical to just read and enjoy. Once I did that I enjoyed the book much more and found the author's story much more satisfying.
All in all, I enjoyed this story especially as I am a mother myself. The ending of this memoir was immensely satisfying and I'm glad that I gave this book a try. Thanks to the author for sending me this one to review! ( )
  samantha.1020 | Dec 11, 2008 |
Alex and her husband are in the final stages of adopting a child from China. Alex asks her friend Beth to accompany her on the trip to China. Beth is hesitant at first. Why wouldn't Alex want her own husband to go with her?

After thinking it over, Beth decides to go along figuring it would be quite an adventure and something to add to her travel journal. What she does not anticipate, is the strong emotional bond she feels when she sees the child for the first time.

My reading of this novel could not have been timed better. A close friend of mine just returned from a trip to China and she shared dozens of pictures with me, along with stories about the people, the culture, etc. As I was reading Beth's story, much of what she said corresponded to what my friend told me. This really set the scene for me and by page 50 I was completely engrossed.

Although Beth is there to accompany Alex, she is deeply affected by the adoption process and haunted by the children that are left behind. The detail in which Beth tells the story is at times heart wrenching, but very well written. Here's an example:

"What happens when one is confronted with the sick, the neglected, the dirty? Either the heart opens, or it slams shut against the assault. Is this a choice or a reaction born of a million prior choices? What happens when love does not come?"

Although the book does not go into great detail about the living conditions in which these children live, there is enough detail there to make you want to book a flight to China if only to save one child. Russell does an excellent job of allowing you into her world. You see China the way she saw it and you feel her frustration and helplessness as she tells her story.

Although I was deeply moved by the book, I was distracted by the frequent dream sequences. Throughout the story, Russell shares the dreams that she had during the trip. At first I read all of the dream entries, but after a dozen or so, I began to skip them in order to get back to the story. The interview at the back of the book says that the actual dreams were more fractured when she had them, but upon return from the trip, through meditation, she spent a great deal of time reentering the dreams which she admits were past-life experiences. This allowed for more detailed accounts which were included in the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and felt it was well written, but I don't think the dream sequences were necessary. Knowing that little has changed with China since this book was written, I think it would be a good book for a prospective parent to read...especially one who is considering an international adoption. It doesn't give you all the specifics as far as the requirements of course, but it does pose some serious questions that a prospective parent should consider very carefully before going through with the process.

As far as book groups, I think there would be plenty for a group to discuss. The idea of international adoption is controversial on its own, but there's a lot going on between Alex and Beth that I cannot get into without giving the story away. ( )
  tibobi | Dec 4, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743292979, Paperback)

"Will you take her?" she asks.

When Beth Nonte Russell travels to China to help her friend Alex adopt a baby girl from an orphanage there, she thinks it will be an adventure, a chance to see the world. But her friend, who had prepared for the adoption for many months, panics soon after being presented with the frail baby, and the situation develops into one of the greatest challenges of Russell's life.

Russell, watching in disbelief as Alex distances herself from the child, cares for the baby -- clothing, bathing, and feeding her -- and makes her feel secure in the unfamiliar surroundings. Russell is overwhelmed and disoriented by the unfolding drama and all that she sees in China, and yet amid the emotional turmoil finds herself deeply bonding with the child. She begins to have dreams of an ancient past -- dreams of a young woman who is plucked from the countryside and chosen to be empress, and of the child who is ultimately taken from her. As it becomes clear that her friend -- whose indecisiveness about the adoption has become a torment -- won't be bringing the baby home, Russell is amazed to realize that she cannot leave the baby behind and that her dreams have been telling her something significant, giving her the courage to open her heart and bring the child home against all odds.

Steeped in Chinese culture, Forever Lily is an extraordinary account of a life-changing, wholly unexpected love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:30 -0400)

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