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In the summer of 1998 Jenny Bowen looked out her kitchen window onto her garden and her life changed forever Her 3 year old daughter Maya whom she and her husband adopted months earlier from an orphanage in China had transformed from a frightened sickly little girl to a joyous being thriving in an environment where she knew she was loved Watching her daughter play Jenny was overcome with the desire to help the orphaned girls she couldn’t bring home And that’s when Half the Sky was bornWish You Happy Forever tells the story of China’s momentous progress in its treatment of orphaned and abandoned children When Jenny began Half the Sky in 1998 determined to bring a caring adult into the life of every orphaned child it seemed impossible that China would allow a foreigner to work inside government orphanages let alone try to bring change But gradually after witnessing Half the Sky’s uiet perseverance and miraculous success the Chinese government now not only trusts but partners with Half the Sky to make life better for the children in its care

10 thoughts on “Wish You Happy Forever

  1. says:

    People who read my review will say yeah but she is biased and I would absolutely agree I have been in a lot of these situations and spent years wrapped in China's red tape while trying to adopt my daughter It took us two years and tons of paperwork and money to bring our daughter Jia Li Ye Ru Hui a handicapped child who needed surgery that we could provide home with us Jia was from the orphanage in Wuhan Hubei province in the middle of China We saw the China that Jenny Bowen saw not the glitzy financially stable strong financial power that Bejing would like you to see We were not allowed to go to the orphanage even though we were one family not a huge group We met our daughter in a government office just as Jenny Bowen didJenny's story and her dedication to the orphans of China and Half the Sky are truly humbling This is a clear cut example of the lives of the orphans of China and how the world doesn't see what is true but what China wants you to see Jenny didn't go to China to judge rather to fix She also has a wonderful way of getting people not to just give money but to go and help and see what is going onThe book is not about adopting a child far from it It is about helping the children who stay in China and give them hope and a chance for a better future She does this with the help of a group of warm hearted and intellectual group of Chinese nationals who continually push the program with the governmentPlease read this book even if you don't think this subject matter is your cup of tea By the end you will have melted and been amazed at what Jenny Bowen and Half the Sky have done for the orphans of China

  2. says:

    To read this book without shedding tears of happiness blended with sadness reuires a heart of stone This book is filled with incredible stories of Cinderella like transitions from neglect to love for China's orphans 95% of them are girls The memoir's narration contains just enough suspense created by obstacles threats and roadblocks from Chinese bureaucracy to keep the reader on edge But the narration is filled with so many happy endings that it's not too much of a spoiler to say that this is a good news happy ending kind of storyThis memoir is written by Jenny Bowen the founder of Half The Sky Foundation an international NGO that is working to help China re imagine its approach to child welfare The idea for the organization originated after she and her husband Richard read a 1996 Human Rights Watch report entitled Death by Default The Policy of Fatal Neglect in China's State Run Orphanages This led to their adoption of a Chinese orphan and subseuent exposure to the reality of widespread neglect among Chinese orphanages The Bowens' knowledge of conditions in China motivated them to contact other adoptive parents and they found widespread interest in doing something to help the plight of Chinese orphans left unadopted in China This then led to the founding of “Half the Sky Foundation” with the mission of providing model programs and caregiver training designed to offer loving family like care to children of all ages and abilitiesThe Foundation's work started small in 1998 and has grown through the years in size recognition and acceptance by the Chinese government and as of 2013 Half the Sky's work has impacted nearly 100000 young lives Half the Sky works with the Chinese government and private sector partners to provide training and model programs to ensure that every child knows her life matters to someone Some of the emotion I felt from this book may be due to the emotion evident in the sound of the author's voice as she narrated the book in the audio edition that I listened to In this case narration by the author was a definite plus The listener knows that the emotion is heartfelt not just a good acting jobThis is a memoir not a carefully footnoted history Thus complicating issues of unintended conseuences and episodes of failure are briefly mentioned but not fully explored I presume those sorts of issues are covered elsewhere

  3. says:

    Unpopular opinion alertThis is a book about the author starting a foundation to help orphans in China It's cool that she succedes However the book is not about the orphans or their caregivers it is about her and her perspective is very one sidedShe has a strong white savior complex She doesn't uestion why the orphanages are like they are She just assumes she can swoop in and save the day though she can't even answer why when asked on page 58There is no deeper discussion of the factors that push a family to give up a kid to an orphanage or the experience of the orphanage staff Her assumption is that people in China need to be educated about how to love and care for kids and that nobody is working on the cause in China already She shows contempt for Chinese manerisms and views them as getting in the way of her project using the China smile as a negative description throughout the book and portraying Chinese as savages they were always pushing and shoving but nobody seemed to mind for exampleOn page 105 she says the first and possibly only actually positive thing about Chinese people that they don't wince whenever the author announces a change of plansOn page 112 an important woman tells her to involve the ordinary local people and they will want to help The author is skeptical because others have warned her not to trust the Chinese She looks around and still only sees the China Smile The discussion ends thereThough her success is admirable and she is clearly devoted to the cause this author's lack of cultural competence and her contempt for Chinese manerisms are really frustrating I would be infinitely interested if the author were self aware about the intersection of her culture and theirs and if the book were about the people involved on ground level rather than about herInstead of this book I recommend The Spirit Catches You And You Fall Down for a fascinating look at the intersection of two cultures and The Little Princes about a Westerner making a difference in Nepal but with a focus slightly on the kids

  4. says:

    A great read In the process of adopting a Chinese orphan Californian filmmaker Jenny Bowen discovers the terrible conditions these children were growing up in Tiny kids tied to potty chairs all day with no stimulation no physical contact with caregivers scarring punishments for infractions Bowen decided she had to do something about these kids and set out to make a difference And make a difference she has She and her husband launched a non profit called Half the Sky dedicated to transforming the circumstances of abandoned Chinese babies This unlikely memoir charts the transformation sparked by their initiativeBut imagine a Chinese national coming to Canada and setting up programs in our group homes or orphanages At best we'd ignore such audacity; at worst we'd arrest and deport So how did an American transform Chinese institutional child care? The fragile dance Bowen and her cohorts conduct in order to fly under the radar and affect change makes for compelling reading Well worth your time

  5. says:

    Wow Just Wow This is one amazing story This woman has so much energy I'm tired now When Jenny Bowen and her husband adopted a little girl from an orphanage in China she learned how very little love and nurturing orphans received there So she decided to change that She did not know Chinese had only been there for her adoption was a filmmaker and hardly rich was not a teacher or child development specialist and had no friends in the Chinese government At all For some reason none of this daunted her at all So she went to China Made friends Raised money Got her programs into orphanages And in time had her model of nurturing and care ADOPTED BY THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT as its standard Along the way she provided loving homes for handicapped children AIDS orphans provided disaster relief and changed lives wherever she went Well she and her husband and her amazing staff volunteers and friends This woman CHANGED A WHOLE COUNTRY Stunning

  6. says:

    This is an good book about an amazing American woman Jenny Bowen who started a revolutionary change in China that has saved tens of thousands of orphans and brought joy to so many Chinese At the beginning of the book I was so angry and disgusted with how the orphans in China almost exclusively girls were treated They were tied to potty chairs or cribs and too scared or worn down to cry or complain They didn't know how to speak play or interact and the older they got the behind they fell When they were adopted many of them had extremely difficult adjustments because they didn't know how to attach and they were stunted academically and socially Jenny however learned that the orphans were not mistreated because Chinese people don't love children but because they lacked the resources necessary to take care of these abandoned little ones One person would be assigned 20 or babies to take care of which is an overwhelming task to anyone let alone someone who probably never took care of an infant before no little brothers or sisters and had no training As Jenny set up her programs in the orphanages and provided the training and resources needed the Chinese workers immediately opened their hearts and loved these children Jenny has a special set of talents that enabled her to worm her way into the closed Chinese system I loved this book

  7. says:

    This is the story of Jenny Bowen who after a successful career making movies and with two adult children goes with her husband to China to adopt a wee girl Seeing their new daughter Maya thrive after their love and affection and time spent with other children Jenny wonders about all the other children in orphanages who are often neglected and largely ignored So with no credentials or childcare experience she bravely goes to China and helps to set up Half the Sky Foundation helping to improve the lives of thousands of orphans It is amazing what she achieves especially in a society that is wary of foreigners and interference that she is able to set up playrooms provide toys and set up training for caregivers We all have seen programmes on the way some orphans have been treated around the world especially in the 80s and 90s strapped to chairs or cots some not moving and having little social interaction or any type of love or affection shown to them What a difference some love and kindness make You have to applaud the author for stepping up and being the change Bravo These are people we should be celebrating and talking about their stories instead of newspapers and magazines filled with celebrities

  8. says:

    Inspiring story of how one person’s idea and actions can change the world for better I loved what this uote at the end “Surely there’s a place deep inside all of us that recognizes the need in each other The very most basic human need the one that distinguishes us from all other creatures the need to love and be loved If we are denied we cannot thrive”

  9. says:

    A very nice read this is a real uplifting book about how one person can have a mission and make a difference Jenny Bowen decided she wanted to adopt a little girl from China her biological kids were grown and she wanted to provide a home for the thousands of orphan girls in China Went she and her husband traveled to China to meet her almost two year old daughter she was shocked at the conditions of the orphanage her daughter was at it was like a warehouse for babies the babies were listless and unemotional after research she saw these girls were given the minimal needs met they are not cuddled interacted with and showed the results of suchStarting in about 1997 she made it her mission to change the conditions of the orphanages throughout China soon Jenny named her project Half the Sky she spent years going to the orphanages to improve the conditions emphasizing interacting with the babies Cuddling them playing with interacting with them it was a slow process but over the years successthis is a heartwarming book I liked how one person get find a purpose and work hard to improve on poor conditions and watch the results that occur

  10. says:

    I'm sure this is a biased review I was already a fan of Jenny Bowen and Half the Sky and I remember fondly the kind member of their staff who sat behind us on our flight home with our new daughter But reading what all went on to make Half the Sky the successful program that it is is eye opening fascinating inspiring and touching I'm even amazed and dedicated to continuing our support for them on behalf of our daughter and all the world's children