Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Author and Activist

"I never gave them hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." Harry S. Truman
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Mirah Riben . . .

    . . . has been researching, investigating, writing and speaking out to expose the corruption, coercion, exploitation, commodification, and trafficking of children in the mega-billion-dollar adoption, anonymous contract conception and surrogacy industries, and the denial of adoptees' right to their authentic birth certificate since 1980.

Riben has authored two internationally acclaimed books and more than two hundred thirty articles appearing in such publications as: Huffington Post, Medium, Dissident Voice, Crime Magazine, Courier-Post, News Blaze, OpEd, News, Conducive Magazine, USA Today, CounterCurrents, Associated Content, Utne Reader, Social Issues Review, Macrocosm USA, Jersey Woman, Suburban Parent, The Jewish Press, Family Journal, The Woman’s Newspaper of Princeton, and Mothering.  


► NOTE: None of Riben's writing has ever been done for, nor garnered, any profit or financial gain. 

As a proponent of social justice and human rights, with a focus on the rights mothers, fathers, children and families in crisis, since 1980, Mirah (pronounced mĭr'ə or Meer-a, like Mira Sorvino or mirror-mirror on the wall. Not Myra) has been researching, investigating, and writing:
  • In favor of Family Preserveration and replacing current adoption practices with "simple adoption" or Permanent Legal Guardianship.
  • To end the falsification of birth certificates that claim adoptess were born to their adopters and restore equal access for adoptees who have been issued fraudulent birth certificates.
  • In opposition of all profiteering, corruption, coercion in adoption.
  • To expose the emotional, physical and sexual abuse in adoptive families including children rehomed, abandoned  and murder by those who committed to protect and care for them.
  • To end pre-birth matching and "expenses" paid directly from prospective adopters to expectant mothers. These practices, currently allowable in many states, are simply a rues for human trafficking and have no place in child welfare.They enmesh expectant mothers considering adoption with those seeking to adopt, creating false expectations for hopeful adopters and feelings of obligation and indebtedness for the mothers-to-be. 


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

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

 Excerpts of The Dark Side have appeared in:
          •  Social Issues Review Series, 1991, Vol. 4
  • 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


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


As an advocate of family preservation not adoption separation, Mirah seeks an end to the falsification of vital records and believe that adoption as it is currently practiced needs to be replaced with guardian adoption after all attempts to provide resources for children to remain safely within their extended family have been exhausted. Such permanent legal guardianship 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 vital records falsified, hiding the truth from the individuals whose records they are.

Mirah co-founded the original Origins in 1979. She is 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. Mirah worked with authorities to reunite the child Steinberg and Nussbaum called Mitchell, with his original family, who had agreed to his adoption under duress. 

She 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, Mirah 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 Mirah

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

Mirah's October 1989 presentation at the AAC Region 3 conference was entitled “In the ‘Best Interest’ of All: Equal Rights for Adopted-Separated Persons” spearheading a change of the language of adoptee access to their original, authentic birth certificates. Mirah argued that the terminology of seeking "open records" that had been creeping along state by state since the 1940's when adoptee birth certificates were first sealed, created images of invsion of others' privacy. 

Mirah instead urged the adoption community to reframe the issue as what it was: an issue of denied eual human rights. She again presented this revised relabeling of adoptee access in her article: "Dear Bastards Demand Equality" which was published in the Spring/Summer 2006 Vol. 8, No 1, BastardQuarterly.

In April 2009, at the AAC in Cleveland, Mirah presented: "'Open Records' versus 'Equal Access: Reexamining our Goals" again encouraging adoption rights advocates yet again to stop asking for “open records,” and to frame their argument as one of equal rights. The button (above, right) was designed for that event.

Mirah has since gone further and demands states stop issuing falsified, fruadulent birth certificates.

Mirah has 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, May, 1989

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

Mirah has appeared as an adoption expert on Russian-American TV numerous times to discuss the abuse, murder, and abandonment of Russian adopted children that led to the ban on Russian adoptions. 

Mirah has 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 Mirah traveled to Guatemala with a human rights delegation to support, and joining the hunger strike of Fundación Sobrevivientes and the mothers of children kidnapped for adoption.  Her trip is reported here and:

Part I: Aug 11 Violence Against Women

Part II: Aug 12 Guatemala countryside and Zunil

Part III: Aug. 12 Organizations we Visited

Part IV: Aug 13 Visiting a Mayan community

Three Mothers/Three Daughters
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BELOW: Governor Christie signing The NJ Adoptee Birthright Access Bill, 2016

In this old blog post, Mirah shares her thoughts on whether her involvement in adoption is an Obsession or Commitment.  

Last updated 4/30/21