Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday's Woman: Impacting Families

I am grateful to have Anna Mahler of The Mommy Padawan back to guest post for this week's Wednesday's Woman.  

Anna shares my passion for honoring the women of the world who strive to make a positive impact on the lives of others.  Like last week, because of her willingness to contribute to Wednesday's Woman, Anna has brought to my attention another visionary, activist, and advocate.--Dr. Jane Aronson. 

Raising awareness of these great women and their work inspires us on our own quests to be courageous and impactful.  Help us to stay inspired!  After you check out Anna at Mommy Padawan, consider contributing to Wednesday's Woman.  Simply drop me an email by clicking the envelop below, and share your knowledge of a Wednesday's Woman.

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Wednesday's Woman -  Pediatrician, Dr. Jane Aronson

Doctor Jane Aronson is a hero to me for several reasons. She's a true humanitarian and an advocate for orphaned children around the world. Her work has included evaluating children adopted from abroad and she has consulted with thousands of families on the adoption process, including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. But what I also love about Jane Aronson is her vision for more permanent future solutions, working with entire communities to help enable families to stay together.

I first learned about Jane Aronson when she was nominated as a 2009 woman of the year by Glamour Magazine and was immediately affected while reading about what she encountered while touring overseas orphanages in the 90's, describing the smell alone as “that terrible odor of filth and illness and neglect.”

Witnessing starving, sick and neglected children would cause anyone to be upset or walk away thinking and feeling something should be done. Jane Aronson took the next step.

In 1997, she founded the Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO), a not-for-profit organization that provides direct services to orphans abroad. 

From Jane's bio on the WWO website:
“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. “

A favorite part of the services WWO provides that I found on the site is setting up “granny” programs where retired individuals are matched with children in local institutions. The “grannies” work  on a one-to-one basis with a child, feeding, playing, singing songs, holding and encouraging their child and the little ones respond with tremendous developmental advances, better growth, and most importantly, by learning how to love and be loved.

But more than just wanting to help children without permanent homes, Dr Aronson is concerned with finding solutions for the bigger issue; how and why so many children are becoming orphaned in the first place.

From an interview in the Washington Times Community, Dr Aronson explains:
“Every orphan is in someway connected to a community. If we can help support that community, we help the kids. We focus on the community. What’s going wrong there to create orphans? Battered families? Illness? Extreme poverty? We try to focus on alleviate the causes. For instance, we set up the Family Resource Center in Vietnam, which supports parents who are HIV positive. If we can help them stay well, we help their children stay within a family and prevent them from becoming orphans.

Adoption is obviously the gold standard. Every kid deserves a permanent family in a safe and loving home. The trouble is the orphan problem is too great to be resolved through adoption alone. There just are too many children. There has to be another solution to support these kids. To me, orphans symbolize the lack of justice in the world. These children are the victims of poor adult decisions and the big picture is that it’s incredibly sad that human beings allow this to happen. But the fact is they do, these kids exist and we have a moral obligation to do something about it.”
Every orphan is connected to a community and every child does deserve a safe and loving home. Learn about the community, help the people, heal families and keep them together. This, along with all the other work Doctor Aronson does, is what makes her an inspiration and hero to me.

In the United States, Jane still practices pediatric medicine in Manhattan as well as being a parent to her own two adopted children.

Dr. Jane Aronson

Read more about Dr. Jane Aronson on her website.
Learn more about her organization, the Worldwide Orphans Foundation at
Follow her on Twitter @orphandoctor


  1. Oh my goodness, I love Dr. Aronson's glasses! I know that is beside the point, but still.

  2. Oh my, how very impressive, inspiring, and important!

    Thank you so much for shedding light on her here!

  3. Never really gave too much thought to supporting the community which in turn reduces the number of children given up. Powerful and inspiring piece!


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