Dr Jane Aronson
Founder and CEO of Worldwide Orphans Foundation
Dr. Jane Aronson was born in Brooklyn in 1951 and grew up on Long Island. She attended Hunter College in New York City and taught school for ten years.
At thirty-one, she fulfilled her life’s dream to become a physician and entered medical school. She graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1986 and did a pediatric residency and chief residency in New Jersey, followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Columbia Presbyterian /Babies Hospital in New York City. Between 1992 and 2000, she was the Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Director of the International Adoption Medical Consultation Services at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York.
Since July 2000, Dr. Aronson has been in private practice as Director of International Pediatric Health Services, in New York City. She is Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and has evaluated well over 4,000 children adopted from abroad as an adoption medicine specialist; she has traveled to orphanages in Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, China, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Latin America.
Since 1997, she has conducted research and provided education in orphanages abroad through her 501(3) (c) foundation, Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). WWO documents the medical and developmental conditions of children living in orphanages abroad in order to identify their immediate healthcare needs and to advocate for their well-being through the Orphan Ranger Program. This program acts as a “peace corps” for orphanages by commissioning university students and healthcare professionals to live and work in orphanages. They are proficient in the native tongue and work in conjunction with staff to improve the nutritional and emotional health of abandoned children. Since 1997, Dr. Aronson has funded Orphan Rangers in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, India, Ecuador, Viet Nam, China, Serbia, Montenegro, and Ethiopia. WWO has been granted NGO status in Viet Nam and Ethiopia and has embarked on training programs for physicians in both countries to care for HIV-infected orphans.WWO currently treats orphans with HIV/AIDS in both countries.
She has been featured in many newspapers and magazines, such as The New Yorker on July 17, 2000, People on November 12, 2001, May 2, 2005, August 1, 2005, and most recently, November 7, 2005; other features were in The NewYork Times in Jane Brody’s Science Times/Personal Health column on July 22, 2003 and then Jill Brooke’s feature on adoption and home design on July 22, 2004. She is a recipient of the Congressional Angel of Adoption Award in September 2000. She is the adoptive mom of two sweet boys, Ben, from Viet Nam and Desalegn, from Ethiopia.
Adoptee, Ex-Pro NBL Player and "Activational" Speaker
Eric’s passion to help others grew out of his own hardships as a child. At birth, Eric was diagnosed with a congenital deformity of the knee joint and due to his biological parents being unable to raise a disabled child, he was given up for adoption. Eric chose to create an inspired vision for his life and carry that vision out through planning, action, and undeniable persistence. Despite being told by doctors that he would never be able to play sports due to his knee, Eric was determined to play basketball. After much hard work, Eric excelled and eventually went on to play in the NBL in Australia. Eric went on to forge a career in sales in addition to pursuing charitable work, most notably hosting celebrity basketball tournaments with Michael Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Eric’s desire to give back led him to sharing his story of hardship and success through what Eric calls ‘Activational’ speaking. Sheer talent and endless dedication has helped Eric create a lasting change in the minds and hearts of over 2 million people around the world. In June 2014 Eric was appointed National Sales Manager for Market Australia, Australia's premier online shopping web portal au.shop.com. Eric was recently voted number 22 of the 'Top 60 Motivational Speakers in the World' by the initiative Hunger 2 Succeed.
Adoptee and Journalist
Latika Bourke is a well-known Australian political journalist and author. She is currently a national political journalist for Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Canberra Times and Brisbane Times. Previously Latika worked for the ABC and 2UE Radio. In 2010 Latika’s excellence in her profession was acknowledge when she won the Walkley Award for Young Australian Journalist of the Year. Latika began her journalism career working on local radio in Bathurst, Central West New South Wales where she grew up as one of eight children. Born in Bihar in India, Latika was taken to a Catholic orphanage when she was only one day old. At eight months old she arrived in Australia to join her adoptive parents, Penny and John. Latika is a proud adoptee. Growing up she felt a deep connection to her Australian home and family. Over time however she became more and more curious about her heritage and what it meant to be born in India and raised in Australia. In 2012 she travelled to India to see her home state and the orphanage she was from for the first time and has continued to travel India each year. She has chronicled her personal journey in her book From India with Love published by Allen & Unwin.
Joel de Carteret
Adoptee and Filmmaker
Joel is a renowned film maker and world-class storyteller. CEO & Chief Storyteller at Stories In Motion, he makes beautifully crafted stories that touch the heart and fill the soul. Joel is a sought after keynote speaker combines film, music and photography into his unique talks. He shares this remarkable life-changing story. As featured recently on Channel 9's 60 minutes and GMA’s Kapuso Mo - Jessica Soho, his story has reached over 22 million people around the planet. Joel was born in the Philippines but was separated from his family and found in a busy marketplace at age five. Nearly 31 years on, having been adopted and raised by an Australian family, Joel embarked on what seemed like an impossible mission to track down his birth mother. With virtually nothing to go on except knowing the date and location he was found, Joel undertook a journey that shows how sheer grit and determination can overcome even the most insurmountable odds. His skills as a film maker and producer, along with millions of filipino’s, aided him to the reunification of his long lost parents.
Adoptive Mother and TV Personality
Sallianne Deckert started writing articles for newspapers from the family farm in Victoria when she was 12 years old. Her television career began straight out of school and has taken her around the world. A member of the original Talk to the Animals series in 1997, Sallianne's other credits include reporter/producer roles with Postcards (Victoria), Today, Mornings with Kerri-Anne, A Current Affair, Getaway and Our House, all on the Nine Network. After 11 years in the Australian adoption process, Sallianne and her husband Steve are proud parents to two Ethiopian born daughters - Kuleni (adopted 2005) and Tsegamareyam (adopted 2011). A passion for Ethiopia’s children and future prompted the family to recently move to Addis Ababa and commit to volunteering at The School of St Yared for two years. The school takes the most severely disadvantaged students with a motivation to learn and provides an excellent education, meals, health support and nurturing environment for free. The family is enjoying their time in Ethiopia exploring Kuleni and Tsegamareyam’s birth culture as they use their skills to impact Ethiopian lives and futures through education. If you’d like to read more, visit The School of St Yared, Ethiopia on Facebook or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adoptee and Actor
Zufi Emerson is a 21 year-old young woman from Canberra, Australia. She was born in Ethiopia, and adopted to Australian parents when she 5 months old. She has 2 younger brothers who were also adopted from Ethiopia. Zufi's adoption story is a happy one - something she is grateful for. Speaking from personal experience, Zufi believes that adoption truly follows the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – that it is the best interest of children to be a part of a loving family. She believes that every child deserves to feel loved, and feel like they have a home where they feel safe and belong. Zufi is currently studying at the Actors Centre of Australia in Sydney. She is so grateful and happy to have the opportunity to spend every day doing what she loves - learning from and with people she admires. She is looking forward to contributing to the industry of her passion. She believes that every child, regardless of who they are, should also have the chance to be educated, feel safe, happy and most of all empowered to make a difference by doing what they love. Zufi is excited to continue her involvement with Adopt Change and is looking forward to contributing to changing adoption systems in Australia - from a frustrating process laden with bureaucratic red tape and confusion, to a supportive process that gives children in need the best possible chance to be part of loving families who want to care for them.
Adoptee and Fashion Industry Consultant
Phoebe was adopted from an orphanage in war torn Vietnam at just ten days old. When they returned to Australia, Phoebe’s parents found out she was cross-eyed and she required several operations over many years under the late Fred Hollows to correct her eyesight. Phoebe is still in contact with Gabi Hollows today. Phoebe is also an Ambassador of Shake It Up, an Australian NFP in partnership with the Michael J Fox Foundation to promote and fund Parkinson’s Disease research. Phoebe’s business Garland & Garland is well known in the Australian Fashion industry, and she is on the Advisory board for the TAFE NSW Fashion Design Studio.
Adoptee and Australian Rugby Player
Ellia was born in Fiji of Fijian parents and adopted not long after birth by prominent Australian journalists Yolanta and the late Evan Green who were resident in Fiji at that time.
Her adoptive home was Melbourne and through her school years she became a national level sprinter representing Australia at the World School Games in Qatar in 2009.
She was recruited into rugby in 2012 and swiftly set about securing a place in the Australian Women’s Rugby 7’s side.
Ellia was a standout performer as part of the side’s victory in the 2015/16 Rugby World Series and the Team’s success continued on to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro where Ellia was one of the break-out stars of the gold medal winning Australian Women’s 7’s Rugby Team.
Ellia resides in Sydney and enjoys a close, loving and supportive relationship with Yolanta who to this day continues to be her inspiration.
Adoptive Mother and Actor
Adoptive Father and Actor
Hugh Jackman is an Academy Award® nominated, Golden Globe and Tony Award winning actor, who has made an impression on audiences of all ages with his multi-career persona, proving that he is as successful on stage in front of live crowds as he is on a film set.
Jackman is also an active humanitarian and philanthropist. On a trip to Ethiopia with World Vision, Hugh and his wife Deborra-lee Furness visited Dukale, an Ethiopian coffee farmer. They were so moved by his infectious spirit and incredible coffee they promised they would help him. Hugh went on to fulfill his promise by launching Laughing Man Worldwide, an organisation that imports fair trade coffee right from Dukale's farm in Ethiopia to be served in its New York City cafes. Laughing Man Worldwide’s total revenue goes back to education, community development and new business development. Hugh supports Deborra-lee whole-heartedly in her mission to ensure that all children have a safe and loving family, and a place to call home. Hugh and Deb live in New York with their two adopted children, Oscar and Ava.
Adoptee and Singer, Songwriter & Musician
Shellie is a singer, songwriter and musician, and the NT Australian of the Year in 2014. Adopted into a Sydney based family as a baby, Shellie remains very close to her adoptive family, who encouraged her to seek out her biological family more than two decades ago. Her journey took her, via Link Up, to the Northern Territory and on a continuous learning of her Wardaman and Yanyuwa heritage and in to more than 70 remote communities of this country.
A favourite and celebrated vocalist, Shellie has spent the past 25 years creating and engaging in music as a healing tool. She imparts the importance of having a voice and that each individual is important. While she has been in the spotlight over the years for her involvement with Black Arm Band, Deadly awards, ARIA nominations, Music Australia award, NAIDOC Award, G.R. Burarrawanga Memorial Award and Australian of the Year award; by and large, she works on the ground empowering and gently effecting change. Shellie creates music and sings in around 17 Aboriginal languages, many considered “sleeping”. Since discovering her family, she has tirelessly worked to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, especially in the Northern Territory.
Adoptee and Ex-Pro AFL Player
Brad Murphy is a former AFL player for the Western Bulldogs, 2002-2006, and now coaches and plays for semi-professional Aussie Rules club, Melton. Brad was born to drug addicted parents and grew up in foster care in Victoria from 16 months. Young Brad was never going back to his birth parents — his mum “did a runner” to Western Australia soon after a previous overdose, while his dad spent most of Brad’s childhood in Pentridge prison. “The thing that chewed me up was not being able to be adopted. I felt I didn’t belong to anyone,” he says. He wanted to be adopted; his foster carers wanted to adopt him, but his dad wouldn’t provide consent. Brad was adopted by his long-time foster parents at the age of 18.
Adoptive Mother, Singer and Actor
Adoptive Mother and Actor
Adoptee, Cricket Commentator and Former Australian Cricketer
Lisa's Australian parents found her abandoned in a hospital in Poona, 170km from Mumbai, India. It took them until she was 2 years of age to adopt her. Lisa has an older, adopted sister, Caprini. Lisa is a former Australian cricketer, the first player in women’s history to score 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets. Lisa is an accomplished cricket commentator, having covered two Indian Premier League seasons, World T20 (women’s and men’s) and U19 men’s world cup. This summer she will be on the commentary team for Channel Ten’s BBL and WBBL.
Adoptee and Actor
One of Australia’s most loved and respected actors Jack Thompson has appeared in numerous Australian and American films. His appearance in Breaker Morant (1980) won him an Australian Film Institute award for Best Actor, and an award for Best Supporting Actor at the Cannes International Film Festival. In 1994, Jack was awarded the 'Raymond Longford Award' by the Australian Film Institute for his outstanding contribution to Australian cinema, and in 2009 was awarded the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) 'Lifetime Achievement Award' for services to Australian Film and Television. When Jack was four years old his mother tragically died from an illness. His father, while loving his sons, was unable to care for them. Jack’s aunt arranged for the brothers to board at a school in Narabeen called Lake House. It was while he was at Lake House that he met a boy called Peter Thompson. Jack was adopted by the Thompson family. The boys grew up ‘joined at the hip’ and to this day, Peter is both Jack’s brother and closest friend. 42 years later, Jack again met his biological father. (Photo credit: Steve Bacon)
Adoptive Mother, Actor and Author
Adoptee and Digital Influencer
Hailing from the Central Coast in NSW, Nicole Warne is considered one of the world’s leading digital influencers, with over 2.3 million followers.
Beginning her journey with an online store and blog, Nicole has gone on to collaborate with luxury brands as a creative director, social media consultant, digital strategist and ambassador. She has been recognized in the Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ and Business of Fashion’s ‘The 500 People Shaping the Global Industry’ lists, and won awards from Instyle and Elle Australia.
Nicole is a key player in the Australian fashion community and believes in supporting the next generation, serving as a guest judge for The International Woolmark Prize Australia, The Australian Fashion Film Awards and and The Australian BT Emerging Designer Award.
Nicole is an adoptee and was adopted by her parents Robyn and Ian from South Korea when she was 3 months old. She has a younger sister Caitlin who is also adopted from South Korea and an older brother who is her parent’s biological son.
Adoption has always been an integral part of Nicole’s family and upbringing. Two of her cousins were adopted from the Philippines and Thailand, so growing up surrounded by a multicultural family made it easy for her to understand and appreciate what adoption meant.
Nicole cherishes her upbringing and knows she wouldn’t be in this fortunate position if it wasn’t for her parents, so she truly hopes by sharing her influence she can help raise awareness, education, funds, and ultimately help create change for the thousands of Australian kids who need permanent homes.
Adoptive Mother and Actor