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BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Orphans adopted from China often have emotional, and sometimes physical problems, but one Bay Area woman broke barriers in China to give those children much needed loving care.
Jenny and Richard Bowen adopted Maya when she was nearly two years old, and scarred from life in a Chinese orphanage.
“She was emotionally just vacant. She was like a little shell of a child,” Jenny said.
But, Jenny and Richard gradually opened Maya’s heart, one smile, and one hug at a time.
“I saw what a family’s love does for a child. She just looked like a normal kid,” she said.
With that, Jenny decided to offer that loving, family-like care to all of China’s orphans, abandoned in the country’s one-child population control policy. For a year, the Berkeley filmmaker and screenwriter approached China’s government with the same determination she had employed in Hollywood.
“Would you let me partner with you so I and other adoptive families can give back in gratitude?” she asked.
“It wasn’t easy in China. I’m not going to pretend it was easy, but it’s been extraordinary.”
Eventually, China allowed Jenny to launch a year-long child nurturing program in two of its own orphanages. Soon, Beijing was sending delegations to see the children’s transformations for themselves.
“All the institutional behaviors were falling away; all the head banging, the indiscriminate affection.”
With her non-profit Half the Sky, Jenny has trained thousands of Chinese welfare workers to lovingly care for more than 100,000 orphans.
Half the Sky is now training every welfare worker and administrator in China to nurture about a million of China’s orphaned children.