Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wish You Happy Forever by Jenny Bowen

I have no idea how Wish You Happy Forever by Jenny Bowen made it on my list. It is well outside my usual scope of reading. That being said, it was interesting. I’m not saying I’d tell everyone you HAVE to read this book. Just that if you happen to have a copy, it’s an ok read and won’t feel like a waste of your time. I think if you were interested in Chinese orphans specifically, it’d be more interesting. 

Jenny Bowen and her husband decided to adopt a Chinese girl after hearing about the plight of unwanted girls in China. Their own children were grown and out of the house. They had a busy life as film producers. Yet they felt they had to rescue at least one child from the horror.

After adopting and realizing how bad the orphanage conditions were, Jenny committed to changing that situation. Although clueless as to how to begin, she began assembling people around her who could help her form a non-profit dedicated to improving the orphanage conditions in China.

This book tells the tale of her multi-year struggle to make headway into the Chinese government and to finally convince them of the need for more human, happy, and healthy orphanages. She documents the victories as well as the setbacks. Ultimately, they end up moving the Chinese government to reform, and adopting another girl they fell in love with during the process.

While it’s a good story with a happy ending, I was left a little confused. It seems odd to me that the Chinese people had to be told it’s a bad thing to tie an infant in a crib with a bottle attached to her and leave her that way for hours. That it’s a good thing to hold a child and comfort her. That “potty-training” does not mean strapping 1-year-olds to toilets all day, every day. That toys should not be broken. That the rooms should not be dark and dirty. 

I mean, are the Chinese people stupid? Are they uncaring and evil? Have they never raised children before? Why do they need a white woman from America to come in and work VERY HARD to convince them of the need for relatively small and inexpensive changes? It’s odd. I have a sense they were playing her. Of course the knew the conditions were horrendous, but like all government projects, quality is not the goal. I think the failure was a failure of their vaunted government and to change meant to admit that. I think the only reason they did change was to save face with the rest of the world. I think they are so enamored with government and “efficiency” and have so little respect for human life, that this is what that looks like. 

She had no real words of condemnation for this mentality. She didn’t comment on it at all. It’s clear that she is not a Christian, but is kind of “spiritual.” Obviously she cares more for humanity than for a political system saving face. But why did she never critique their worldview? Why did she never wonder how the system came to be? Why didn’t she at least attempt to get into their heads? Maybe she didn’t want to lose access. That’s fine, I guess. Maybe I'm looking at this too politically and neglecting the beautiful story of salvation contained within the book. But still, I felt strangely disappointed at the end of a book that should have left me with hope.

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