We all wish we could do more to help those less fortunate than ourselves. As mothers, it is hard to even think about children suffering in the world. Well, former screenwriter and filmmaker Jenny Bowen took action – in a big way. After seeing the pitiful conditions in China’s orphanages, Bowen sprang into action and set out to right this wrong. She gave up her life in Hollywood and established the OneSky Foundation (formerly Half the Sky Foundation), where the mission is to offer China’s abandoned children a life with love, nurturing and education. Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains documents this journey; her personal adoption story; and how her organization continues to put smiles on children’s faces.
Let’s get the discussion flowing:
- Jenny Bowen faces some tough challenges when dealing with the Chinese Government. Why do you think it was so hard to break through these barriers?
- For foreigners living in Asia, have you experienced similar situations where you can’t get things done the way you are used to?
- How can we reconcile with the fact that the Chinese government allowed the situation in the orphanages to get this bad? What does that say about the country’s government?
- Bowen fought with her board at many points, and perhaps she seemed blinded by her mission at times. Do you think she did the right thing? Was she being too cavalier (especially in the face of SARS)?
- How do you think her children feel (will feel) about her telling their story? She doesn’t mention her older children, how do you think they felt about their mother’s cause?
- She seems to do a good job managing her emotions and focusing on what needs to be done — which seems like an enormous challenge. How does she summon the strength?
- How will the changes to the one-child policy impact the situation? Do you think there will be fewer abandoned children?
- Jenny Bowen discusses her challenge with avoiding “mission drift.” Do you think she made the right decisions in situations such as the earthquake?
- Her family moved to China for one year — but stayed for five years! How do you think they will all have changed after their time in China?
- Incredible progress has been made but there is still more to be done. How do you think the orphanage system will look in China five or ten years from now?
- Have you (or someone you know) been through the adoption process in China? What was your experience like? How does it compare to Jenny Bowen’s?
What did you think about Wish You Happy Forever? Let us know in the comments below!