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Forever Lily

Forever Lily

An Unexpected Mother's Journey to Adoption in China

  • reading group guide
"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.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743292979 | 
  • March 2007
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Reading Group Guide

Touchstone Reading Group Guide Forever Lily Discussion Questions
1. What does the author reveal about her personal life and character in the first chapter by telling her story in the first person? What do we know about her that she does not tell us explicitly? Why do you think the author chose to use the present tense to tell this story?
2. Considering they weren't the closest of friends, why do you think Beth agreed to accompany Alex to China? Why do you think Alex asked Beth to come with her to China?
3. When the adoption agency brings the baby to Alex, she is markedly disappointed. What is your opinion of Alex at this moment? What are your feelings toward Alex by the end of the book?
4. What would you do if you were an adoptive mother and you did not bond with your prospective child? If the author had not accompanied Alex to China, what do you think would have happened to the baby?
5. Do you think the author was destined to go to China and adopt Lily? If what happened was destiny, and events were meant to unfold as they did, how does this affect your feelings about Alex? What role does choice play in destiny?
6. When the author confesses her need to adopt Lily to her husband, are you surprised by his response? What does this tell you about their relationship? How would such a situation have been handled in your own marriage or primary relationship?
7. How do the author's dreams relate to what is happening during her waking h see more

About the Author

Beth Nonte Russell
Photo Credit:

Beth Nonte Russell

Beth Nonte Russell received a master's degree in psychology from Marymount University and provided counseling services at a community mental health center. She lives with her husband and two daughters, Lily and Jaden, outside Washington, D.C.

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