Jenny, the Chinese Nightingale

As we closed out our trip in Yunnan Province, we enjoyed an elaborate celebration of International Children’s Day at the orphanage where we have our One to One program. Townspeople and visitors came to the orphanage campus as the community honored all of its children on this special day. Local children performed beautiful dances and songs. We enjoyed festive foods and gifts, and I even gave a speech! The event was filmed by a local television station. It was a happy way to end our visit before heading back to Beijing, but the celebration was also bittersweet.

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After we’d sat for over an hour watching local children perform, precious Jenny, from our One to One program, surprised us and took the stage. As she stood boldly before the crowd and her beautiful little voice filled the air, my heart swelled with love and an aching sadness. Jenny has been waiting a long time for a family — six years, to be exact.

I remember reading Jenny’s files when they arrived in the office. Age five. Loves music and dance. An extroverted, active playmate. Expressive, friendly, bright. Blind. I met Jenny last year when I visited China and took videos of her. Unlike some children, Jenny loved the camera. It’s as though she knew our meeting could be her ticket to a family and she was going to make the most of it.


Jenny’s years of institutionalization have been particularly difficult because of her blindness. She has a vibrancy that cannot be quenched, yet as I visited with her this time I could see her turning inward, looking for a safe space in a world that, because of her disability, is uniquely complex and, at times, frightening. More than ever, on this visit I saw that this courageous little girl needs a family who will advocate for her and provide her with the reassurance of their unconditional love.

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In a centuries-old fairy tale, the Emperor of China becomes enchanted with the song of a nightingale. When he falls deathly ill, a small nightingale comes to sing to him. The sweet voice of the little bird so intimidates death that it flees, and the emperor’s health is restored. Though Jenny has obstacles that she must face, I am convinced that, like the nightingale, her song and her tenacious little spirit will prevail. In the loving arms of a family, Jenny will flourish. She simply needs a family — one who will transpose her bittersweet song into joyful melody.

To see Jenny’s performance, click here.

Jenny is eligible for a $1000 grant through Agape Adoptions, and the CCCWA can be flexible on eligibility requirements for prospective parents. To learn more about Jenny, contact our office at 253-987-5804 or We have lots of pictures and videos to share with you, and we’d love to help you as you begin your adoption journey! To see the eligibility requirements for China, click here