The Orphan Doctor

As an ordinary woman, I have never used the word phenomenal to describe another¬†woman until now. There is enough information on her to fill an encyclopedia. Some call her a Guardian Angel; some call her a Modern Day Medicine Woman. She is Jane Aronson, renowned pediatrician who gained worldwide attention when she treated Angelina Jolie’s daughter, Zahara, for a life-threatening bacterial infection shortly after she arrived from Ethiopia. She has spent 20 years “travelling to orphanages all over the world, to see the conditions that these kids grow up in. So I know when they arrive here how hurt, sad and empty and how yearning they are to love. She has improved the lives of 20,000 children and she has learned to tell them “see you soon in six languages; “I never say goodbye. This woman makes me cry.

Here are her credentials:
She is part of a national network of adoption medicine specialists for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Section for Adoption and Foster Care. She evaluates children adopted from abroad, many of whom are followed long-term as part of her primary care pediatric practice.

Her curriculum vitae is a four page long list of single spaced, small font documentation of her Professional Organizations and Societies, Academic Appointments, Hospital Appointments, Fellowships and Grant Support and Teaching Experience and Responsibilities, all since 1994. These are far too numerous to cite.i

In 1997 she founded the World Wide Orphans Foundation (WWO), a not for profit organization that provides direct services to orphans abroad in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia and Latin America. This is in addition to humanitarian programs in Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kenya, Serbia and Vietnam. “The mission of my foundation is to transform the lives of orphaned children by providing them with medical care, education, and by addressing their developmental issues. WWO acts as global parents for orphans. WWO sends students and healthcare professionals as participants in the Orphan Ranger Program to live and work in orphanages to form liaisons with orphanage educators, staff, and doctors. In addition, we also send Service Rangers, groups of families to work at the orphanage on a specific project for a limited time period. ii

In 1998 she wanted to visit Russian orphanages and learn more about medical care of children there. Her great grandmother was born in the Ukraine in mid-1800. Her grandfather was born north of Odessa at the turn of the century and she felt a common heritage with the Russians. The people were interested in her family origins and acknowledged her as a Russian. When she visited the orphanages she thought that not speaking Russian would make it difficult for her to communicate with the children. She felt foolish as she spoke in English, but found that “holding the children close and massaging their backs was better than any conversation. They were hungry for physical contact and they nestled easily against my body. I still felt their vulnerability .

During this visit Jane had the opportunity to lecture at a seminar for an orphanage staff in Saratov. At a press conference there and in Moscow she was able to express her recommendations for improving the health of children in orphanages and since then she has been actively involved with families traveling to Russia to adopt children. This expertise brought her to the forefront recently on CNN’s AC360 when the plight of a Russian orphan was revealed. An adoptive parent of a Russian boy sent him back to Russia alone due to behavioral difficulties. This in turn prompted the U.S. State Department to consider suspending further Russian adoptions and to discuss a possible bilateral adoption agreement. Since Dr. Aronson began practicing in the 80s and 90s during the first great wave of international adoption, it is easy to see how she has become prominent in the field of international adoption health issuesiii and the press turns to her for comment.

As if all this is not enough, DrAronson was recognized as one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2009 for her advocacy in drawing attention to the enormous needs of the world’s orphaned children. Hugh Jackman, actor and longtime supporter of World Wide Orphans, said “she is Woman of the Year because, she has a heart the size of Texas‚Ķ and she has made a huge difference to countless children and their families .iv

From Russia to Haiti, wherever there are orphans, Dr. Aronson is there to see to their enormous needs. In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands or more orphans were sleeping in the streets and at risk. Jane’s top priority was to rescue these children. She did not want to see them in camps that would lead to disease, depression and death. See her blog journal at “It is important to remember that these children are deeply traumatized. Just like adults, these children are victims of post traumatic stress disorder. They are frightened and oftentimes, developmentally, they are not able to comprehend what happened to them. They are missing their families and familiarity of their family, and right away these children become depressed v

If the definition of phenomenal is: exceedingly remarkable, unbelievably great, highly extraordinary, prodigious, exceptional, uncommon, outstanding, unprecedented, then Jane Aronson exemplifies these adjectives. She simply says, “I have always loved the inner spirit of a child. I look to the child in myself and my childhood experiences to guide my work with families. My passion for children and child advocacy has long dated back to my work as an educator, ten years prior to pursuing a career in medicine. I am an adoptive parent, visionary, and I am dedicated to changing the world one child at a time.

Jane Aronson is a global parent who has transformed the lives of orphaned children by addressing their unique needs. She is a one woman “peace corps for orphans and was a recipient of the Congressional Angel of Adoption Award in September 2000. Perhaps most important of all she actually is global parent, the adoptive mom of two boys, Ben, from Viet Nam and Desalegn, from Ethiopia. Her own son says it best, “Kids want a family who would do anything to have what we have,” Des said. “A family who takes care of them, loves them and gives them hugs at night and tucks them in bed.”vi

About Jane Aronson:
Jane Aronson is a board certified general pediatrician and infectious diseases specialist and the only adoption medicine specialist in the US. She is the Director of International Pediatric Health Services in New York City and is internationally renowned for her devotion to orphaned children. In 1997 she founded WWO, the World Wide Orphans Foundation, an international organization dedicated to transforming the lives of orphaned children worldwide by addressing their unique needs through medical development, psychosocial and educational programs. She evaluates well over seven thousand children adopted from abroad, many of whom are followed long term as part of her primary care pediatric practice. She is a leading expert on the world’s orphans and overseas adoption and speaks about ethical adoption practices.


Sydney Seaver was a part of Ergobaby since 2004, first as Personal Assistant to the president and eventually as Administrative Assistant. She is a graduate of the University of Texas with a BA in Liberal Arts. Prior to coming to ERGO she had her own company, Ergonomic Resource Group. She is the mother of five including two sets of twins and grandmother of eight including a set of twins.