California Woman Wins Change in China's Orphan Policy

One Bay Area woman’s extraordinary journey of perseverance and love has transformed the face of China’s orphanages Berkeley filmmaker and screenwriter Jenny Bowen's non-profit organization, Half the Sky is now training every welfare worker and administrator in China to  nurture nearly one million of China’s orphaned children, many of which have been abandoned in the country’s one-child policy, according to CBS San Francisco.

Bowen decided she wanted to offer the same love of a family she was able to provide for her daughter Maya, whom she and her husband Richard adopted from China when she was just two years old. Jenny saw how the love that she and Richard gave Maya changed an emotionally-scarred little girl who, according to CBS, Jenny described as an emotionally “vacant…shell of a child,” into a vibrant, little lady.

Jenny persevered to eventually gain approval for the launch of a year-long child nurturing program in two the Beijing’s orphanages after a year of challenging efforts. “Would you let me partner with you so I and other adoptive families can give back in gratitude?” she asked, relating her story to CBS. Finally, they agreed.

Soon after her program’s launch, Beijing was reportedly sending representatives to see the children’s transformations for themselves. One of Jenny’s board members credits Jenny’s tenacity by pointing out, in an interview with CBS reporter Sharon Chin, that Jenny doesn’t take no for an answer, highlighting the gravity of her achievement in such a “socially sensitive area,” particularly as a foreigner, with the Chinese government.

Sixteen years later, Half the Sky is still transforming the lives of China’s orphans, and Jenny’s new book Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains, details what CBS reporter Sharon Chin calls Jenny’s “crusade of compassion” in delivering hope and love to China’s abandoned youth.


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