Motherhood. It is an unconditional love. It is loving another human being so much more than you could ever think possible. It is giving hugs and wiping tears. It is silly laughs and sleepless nights. It is the most amazing experience, and everyday I thank God for it.
As Ruth Bell Graham once said, “as a mother, my job is to take care of the possible and trust God with the impossible”. Before ever laying eyes on your child, a mother prays and loves that little one more than words can describe. Giving birth doesn’t make a woman a mother, it is loving and caring for that child that does. The path that God has for each one of us is different but the outcome is still the same. The scripture verse John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you”, spoke to the heart of Susan Hollis when she and her husband Stephen decided to adopt.
The thought of adoption had been on the Hollis’ hearts and minds for years before they started the process. During their waiting they suffered heartache and loss before God finally opened the right door to begin the path towards meeting their child in China. In December 2005, they started the process by searching for the right adoption agency. It wasn’t until April 2006 that this couple found the right fit, a local organization called Small World Adoption Agency. Susan said this agency was fabulous and it made it so much easier for her to be able to talk with them face to face since they were local.
Susan is a great mother, and I am lucky to call this feisty spirit my friend. Her love for family and friends, her husband and her girls is strong and true. It is with that determination and courage, that she got through the incredibly difficult process of waiting for her baby. Susan describes herself as a control freak, and said how important journaling became to her. Writing was the only thing she felt like she had control over, and it helped soothe her soul. As much as it terrified her, it was also an amazing learning process. Susan says, “there is so much faith that has to go into this whole process. Completely putting faith in God, in another government and in all these other people to make sure it works out. It is complete and total faith”. The scripture verse Hebrews 11:1 “faith is confidence in what we hope for, and assurance about what we do not see”, were words that she held close to her heart. That my friends, is faith.
On November 19, 2007, the Hollis’ adopted Lily Zula Nan Hua Hollis from Baoding City, which is a little spot southwest of Beijing. Her Chinese name is Dang Nan Hua (Nan Hua is her first name and Dang is her surname). Nan Hua means southern flower. Susan shares a special moment when they were at the US consulate on Lily’s 2nd birthday, getting sworn in, and everybody that was there that day sang happy birthday to this sweet little one. It was an incredible moment for this new family!
Susan has two pieces of advice she would share with parents thinking about adoption. The first thing is, you have to think of this child as your child and not your adoptive child. It is either in your heart or it isn’t. The second piece of advice she wants to share with parents thinking about this, is be willing to give over absolute control during the process. Susan is a huge supporter of adoption and by this process, she became a mother. She said, “being a mother is the absolute greatest gift God has given me.”
In the summer of 2017, the Hollis family is going on a “heritage tour” for 3 weeks. Susan is so excited to share this experience with Lily and see how she adapts. She said Lily is very proud of her Chinese heritage but thinks of herself as a normal American kid. They will be going to China for 2 weeks and visiting the orphanage (or Social Welfare Institute SWI) and finding place of where Lily came to be. As she is getting older, Susan feels it is important for Lily to meet the people that took care of her those first 2 years of her life. Apparently the SWI found Lily in a hospital wrapped in a blue blanket around 2 weeks old. One of the people they are going to see is the nanny that took care of Lily while she was there. Her nanny happened to also be a product of the SWI as a child, and now she works there. After China, they will travel through Thailand for a week before returning to the states. What a trip this will be for the whole family!
Today, Lily is a thriving 11-year-old. She has a passion for dance and theatre and drama and simply glows while doing it. She is smart, sweet and kind and a real beauty inside and out. She has this hardworking and determined spirit deep within her to be the best at whatever the task may be. After the Hollis family moved back to Tennessee in 2014, Susan enrolled Lily in dance at Ann Carroll School of Dance. Susan said that has been one of the biggest blessings for Lily since moving here. That was when they discovered Lily’s love for dance and theatre. It is amazing to watch your child come alive and find themselves!
Susan is excited to see what God’s plan is for her baby girl that is growing too fast. This year, Lindsay and I were thrilled to celebrate with Lily and her family and friends as she turned 11. Given a budget, B. Perdy threw this graceful dancer a Nutcracker themed birthday party complete with a scavenger hunt and a dance party. It was a great theme for Lily considering this dancer has been in the Nashville Ballet’s Nutcracker this holiday season. It was a specially fun day for all!
“I didn’t give you the gift of life, but in my heart I know. The love I feel is deep and real, as if it had been so. For us to have each other is like a dream come true! No, I didn’t give you the gift of life, life gave me the gift of you.” The author of this quote is unknown, but I think this is so beautiful when I think of Susan and Lily. It is a mother’s love for her child that shapes her into being the best version of herself. How thankful the world is to have mothers!