A MOTHER'S FAITH

Faith Hill's mom taught her discipline, determination . . . and love

Story by Chris Neal

In 1967, Edna Perry already had two little boys in grade school. She loved them very much.

But she still wanted a girl.

Edna, then 31, convinced husband Ted, then 37, that it was a good idea. But the Mississippi couple discovered they couldn't have any more kids of their own, so they decided to adopt. And before they knew it, they had their daughter.

The little girl who would become Faith Hill was given to her new parents when she was only three days old. They named her Audrey Faith Perry -- "Audrey" at older brother Wesley's suggestion, and "Faith" because the adoption itself was just such an act.

Faith knew from an early age that she was adopted -- in fact, she says she can't remember not knowing -- but she has always considered Edna Perry her mother.

Edna was the disciplinarian of the family -- while Ted would often let Faith slide when she got in trouble, Edna was lovingly stern. When 10-year-old Faith and some other children got in trouble for throwing rocks through the windows of an uninhabited building, it was Edna who urged a policeman to scare some sense into her daughter. And it was Edna who decided that the family should move from Jackson, Miss., to the tiny, fatefully named country community of Star, 20 miles away.

When Faith complained about chores, Edna would respond, "Honey, you don't know what work is." She taught by example, commuting into Jackson to work at a bank to help support her family.

"My parents worked all these horrendous jobs and managed to raise us three kids," Faith once said. "My mom could take a penny and make a dollar. I don't know how they provided so much for us with what they brought home."

While she was grateful to her adoptive family, Faith became a teen and began wondering about the identity of her birth mother -- the "question mark," she called it, hanging over her life.

With brother Wesley's help, she embarked on a passionate search and finally managed to track down her biological mother in 1993.

Read what blossoms from Faith's effort in the current Newsstand Issue on sale now!

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