Observations by Jane Aronson, MD, the “orphan doctor”

Pediatrician and adoptive mother Jane Aronson’s New York City medical practice focuses on childen who are adopted. By her own estimate, she has examined more than 10,000 children as patients. This article, posted on NJ.com, includes thoughtful insights by Aronson, based on years of her professional observations. Two that resonate for me are:

…Aronson says that for every three months a child spends in an orphanage, he loses one month of developmental skills, causing, for example, language delays or learning issues.

“If you don’t have one adult who loves you,” says Aronson, you “don’t end up healthy.”

And the second:

Most important quality for parents to have: “To be focused on who the child is and make every effort to accept the child for who they are. (Whether) you give birth to a child, you adopt a child, you have to accept the child with unconditional love and acceptance.”

Aronson is founder of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation.

Her Worldwide Orphans Foundation [WWO], with its headquarters in Maplewood [New Jersey], provides various programs and facilities to orphans in Ethiopia, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria and Serbia. In Ethiopia, for instance, some of WWO’s programs include a school whose curriculum includes global arts, such as theater, dance and music; a family health care clinic, which counts among its services the treatment of orphans with HIV and AIDS; and an orphan soccer league.

The idea for the foundation came to her in the late 1980s when she looked at the staggering number of orphans who are never adopted. Approximately 20,000 children are adopted annually; the total number of orphans worldwide is now estimated to be about 163 million, according to UNICEF.

“It became clear that the vast majority of orphans would not have permanency,” says Aronson.

Through WWO, one-to-one early intervention programs — known as granny programs — in Vietnam, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria match retired women from the community with orphans to provide the children with individual attention and education.

International adoption can never provide homes for the millions of children in need of permanency. Last year, families in the United States adopted 13,000 from around the world, and that number is dropping. My hope for the new year is the development of more one-to-one early intervention programs in the orphanages of my children’s birth country, Guatemala. Every child deserves a chance to grow up healthy.


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One Response to “Observations by Jane Aronson, MD, the “orphan doctor””

  1. [...] Leceta says, children need to be noticed, acknowledged and remembered. In a recent post on this blog, I quote Dr. Jane [...]

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