During her years in the spotlight as a country music star, Faith Hill has been open about being an adoptee and how the experience shaped her. The singer is grateful she had the "chance to be placed in such a loving family." Yet adoption also left Hill with questions about her origins and her place in the world.
Hill's parents were open about her adoption
Hill was adopted just a few days after she was born on September 21, 1967. She grew up as Audrey Faith Perry in Star, Mississippi, with two older brothers and attentive parents. Her parents were very candid about Hill's adoption, which helped make her comfortable with the knowledge. She once said, "When kids would call one another names, they'd say, 'You act like you're adopted.' And I'd always get 'em good, because I'd say, 'Well, I am adopted. So what do you think about that?'"
Yet being surrounded by love and affection didn't keep Hill from sometimes feeling out of place. For example, she'd developed a love of singing at an early age, but no one in her family was drawn to music in the same way. Talking to Billboard in 2017, she admitted, "I had a spirit that was completely outside what my family was. I didn't know anyone I was related to, biologically, which gives you a sense of not knowing who you are."
Hill began looking for her biological family because she was 'simply lost'
When she was 19, Hill headed to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. Within a few years, she was also trying to locate her biological family. Hill later shared some of the motivation behind her decision, telling Robin Roberts, "There was a period of time when I first moved to Nashville, like the first couple of years, that I was just simply lost. That's when I went on the search for my birth family."
When Hill's search began in 1990, adoption records were often sealed and difficult to access. Fortunately, Hill did have the support of her family, and one of her brothers was able to help her track down leads. Thanks to this assistance, and to what Hill has described as some lucky twists of fate and "divine intervention," she was able to locate her birth mother.
When Hill met her birth mother, she 'just stared at her'
Hill debated whether or not to take the next step of meeting her birth mother before ultimately deciding to go ahead with a face-to-face encounter in 1993. It was an emotional experience. "The first time I met my biological mother, I just stared at her," Hill shared with People in 1999. "I'd never seen anybody who looked anything like me. It was the awe of seeing someone that you actually came from. It fills something."
Learning about her biological family revealed parallels to Hill's own life. While her adoptive family hadn't shared her level of musical interest, her birth mother's sister and mother had been members of their church choir, just like Hill. In addition, the discovery that her biological mother was an artist helped Hill understand why she'd been drawn to a creative career.
Meeting her birth mother also brought new facts to light. Hill's parents had told her she'd been placed for adoption because her birth mother had gotten pregnant while having an affair with a married man, but the truth was that being unmarried had led to her birth mother choosing adoption. Hill's biological parents had later wed and had a son, Zack, who remained in their custody. Hill wasn't able to meet her biological father, who had died in a car accident, but she did get to know her biological brother.
Hill and husband Tim McGraw bonded over their 'different' but relatable stories
As Hill was learning about her biological relatives, her relationship with first husband, Daniel Hill, was in trouble. The couple divorced in 1994 after five years of marriage. Hill explained the split by saying, "I was young. I just jumped in the fire way too soon." But Daniel has also said of his ex-wife, "Meeting her birth mother was the most profound life-altering experience for her. After that, her world turned upside down. I was part of her old world, and she had to let that world go."
Hill wasn't single for long. By the fall of 1996, she and fellow country star Tim McGraw had fallen in love and married. Among the things they had in common were complicated family situations, a fact that played a part in bringing them together. McGraw isn't an adoptee, but as a child he discovered that the man raising him wasn't his biological father. He didn't form a relationship with his birth father, baseball player Tug McGraw, until adulthood. Hill has said, "Although our stories are very different, there was a missing link within our souls that we both related to."
Being adopted has shaped the way Hill has raised her children
Family was always of paramount importance to Hill, who has said, "Having been adopted, I really have a strong sense — a necessity almost — for stability. A foundation where my family is concerned." Her close ties with the family that raised her didn't change when her biological mother and brother entered her life. And when she and McGraw had three daughters together, Hill took time off from her career in order to be with them as they grew up.
Hill never forged a deep bond with her birth mother, who passed away in 2007. But Hill appreciated her biological mother's actions, at one point noting, "I know she must have had a lot of love for me to want to give me what she felt was a better chance." Given her experiences, Hill often speaks publicly about adoption, once saying, "I’m thankful there are people out there who do adopt!"