Saturday, March 4, 2017

PROFILE: AUTHOR and ACTIVIST



"The most revolutionary act one can engage in . . . is to tell the truth."
Howard Zinn, Marx on Soho: A Play on History 

"Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world."
Malala Yousafzali, Pakistani activist for female education and youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

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My name is Mirah. It is pronounced mĭr'ə or Meer-a, or like mirror mirror on the wall. Not Myra.  Since 1979 I have been researching, writing, and speaking about the need to reform, humanize, and de-commercialize American and global adoption, and restore adoptee rights.
 
I am author of two internationally acclaimed books and more than 200 published articles (more than a hundred on Huffington Post, from 2014 - 2017.) 

  • 2009. Nominated National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Public Citizen of the Year 
  • 1997-1998. Who’s Who in American Women, 20th edition
  • 1989. Recipient “Outstanding Achievement Award to an Author”, People Searching News

THE STORK MARKETAmerica's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry (2007).  
   

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"shedding light on...The Dark Side of Adoption" (1988) 

Excerpts of The Dark Side appeared in:

Activism:

As a proponent of social justice, equality, and human rights with a focus on the rights of mothers, fathers, children, and families in crisis, since 1980 I have been researching, investigating, and writing to: 
  • expose the corruption, coercion, exploitation, commodification, and trafficking of children in the mega-billion-dollar under-regulated adoption industry 
  • oppose all profiteering in adoption
  • oppose pre-birth matching of expectant mothers with those seeking to adopt
  • oppose "expenses" paid directly from prospective adopters to expectant mothers
  • oppose pre-birth consents to adopt, illegal in all but three state
  • oppose surrogacy and embryo adoption
  • oppose all predatory adoption practices
  • staunchly support equal access for adoptees to their original birth certificates

Pre-birth matching of expectant moms enmeshes expectant mothers with those who want her baby. Direct payment of expense creates feelings of obligation and indebtedness for moms-to-be and false expectations for the prospective adopters. It's  an insidious form of legal baby buying that is potentially harmful to all parties as it can too easily lead to contested adoptions on grounds of coercion. It also opens the door for scams. 

There is NO NEED for direct payments of expenses. Any expenses for the moms-to-be for housing and medical expenses that are not covered by the government, should be paid from a general state fund paid into by prospective adopters. 

As an advocate of family preservation, not adoption separation, all attempts to provide resources for children to remain safely within their extended family must be exhausted before stranger placement is considered. 

Out of country placement should be an absolute last resort. Domestic care of children in need over international needs to be encouraged worldwide.

Children who need care that cannot be safely provided by any family member should be provided a permanent legal guardian. This would give all necessary rights to caretakers without falsifying the adopted person's original birth certificate. It is in no person's best interest to have their authentic original birth certificate sealed from them. Nor is it ever necessary or in anyone's best interest to have their vital records falsified. The falsification of vital records must end and adoption, as it is currently practiced, needs to be replaced with guardian adoption.


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Risking imprisonment, I reunited hundreds of families separated by adoption and helped mothers prevent unnecessary loss by providing temporary shelter in my home.

In 1980 I co-founded the original Origins, a New Jersey-based national organization for women who lost children to adoption.  I was among the very first pioneering mothers to publicly address the lifelong pain of losing a child to adoption and confront the myth that birth (first or original) mothers asked for or were promised anonymity from their children. 

I am former Director of the American Adoption Congress Past Vice President of Communications of Origins-USA, and a lifetime member of Bastard Nation.

In 1987 Michelle Launder's daughter was murdered by Joel Steinberg who illegally adopted the child he called Lisa. In the Steinberg apartment which was called a "house of horrors," a toddler boy - also illegally adopted - was found in a state of neglect. I worked with authorities to reunite the child Steinberg and Nussbaum called Mitchell with his original family, who had agreed to his adoption under duress. The story of this reunification was covered on The Joan Rivers Show.

I organized a Candlelight Vigil to honor Lisa and to bring attention to the need for adoption reform and adoptee access. It was covered on WNBC-TV New York.

In 1989, I organized a speak-out at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. It was the culmination of a walk from New York City to Washington DC of adoptees, adoptive parents, and mothers who had lost children to adoption. 

                                                                  Below L - R: Mary Anne Cohen, Sherry Chait and I

Also, that year, at the AAC national conference in NYC, I organized a “red tape”  event that garnered media attention to the issue of adoptees being denied access to their birth certificates. 

I spearheaded a reframing of the language of adoptee access to their original, authentic birth certificates, a battle that has been creeping along state by state since the 1940's when adoptee birth certificates were first sealed.

My presentation at the AAC Region 3 conference in October 1989 was entitled “In the ‘Best Interest’ of All: Equal Rights for Adopted-Separated Persons.”  The presentation addressed the need to reframe the issue as one of equality.

In 2006, my article: "Dear Bastards Demand Equality" which was published in the Spring/Summer Vol. 8, No 1, BastardQuarterly,  I explained why asking for 'open records' - as had been done for decades - was not the best language, and why the approach should be one of equal, human and civil rights and access

In April 2009, at the AAC in Cleveland, I presented: "'Open Records' versus 'Equal Access: Reexamining our Goals" again encouraging adoption rights advocates to stop asking for “open records” and instead to frame their argument as one of equal rights.  I had the button shown here made. 

I have been keynote, invited speaker, and panel member at numerous national and state adoption conferences such as: 
  • The 7th Annual NJ Research Conference on Women, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

Bloggers at the Ethics in Adoption Conference 2009. 
L-R: Claudia D'Arcy, Suz Bednarz, Bernadette Wright, Mirah Riben  

I have appeared as an adoption expert on RT (Russian-American TV network) abandonment of Russian adopted children that led to the ban on Russian adoptions. 

I have also appeared on several national television programs including The Morton Downey Jr. Show and The Joan Rivers Show to discuss the Steinberg/Nussbaum murder of their illegally adopted child.



In 2009 I traveled to Guatemala with a human rights delegation to support mothers of children kidnapped for adoption.

BELOW: Governor Christie signing The NJ Adoptee Birthright Access Bill, 2016



I have been quoted in the following books and articles:


Last updated 6/27/18
http://MirahRiben/blogspot.com