Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mirah Riben, AUTHOR and ACTIVIST

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

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” 
Malala Yousafzai, activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  
Mirah is author of two internationally acclaimed books, more than 200 published articles, and cited in more than three dozen books professional journals. 

Since 1980, Mirah has been researching, writing and speaking about American and global child adoption, restoration of adoptee rights, as well as third-party anonymous contract conception and surrogacy since 1980.
  • 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).     

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

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


  • "...a must read." The American Adoption Congress 
  • "...challenges the commonly held idea that adoption is a winning solution for everyone . . . this book is to be recommended as one of the few available which balances the more usual happy-ending adoption stories with a birthparent's is recommended for those who prefer the truth, even if unpleasant, to unquestioned adoption mythology." RESOLVE Newsletter
  • "Although not an easy book for an adoptive parent to read, this is certainly an important book for anyone striving to understand all sides of the adoption triangle. The good news (for adoptive parents) is that Riben is not slamming adoptive parents...her really big guns are leveled at The System. I recommend that adoptive parents read this book." Gigi Wirtz, Families Adopting Children Everywhere (FACE
  • "A terrific is dynamic! I will be asking my members to...purchase your book...I am constantly rereading sections." Parent Finders, Ontario 


As a proponent of social justice, equality, and human rights with a focus on the rights of mothers, fathers, children, and families in crisis, for more than 30 years Mirah (pronounced mĭr'ə or Meer-a, like 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  
  • In opposition of all profiteering in adoption.
  • In order to expose the corruption, coercion, exploitation, commodification, and trafficking of children in the mega-billion-dollar adoption, contract designer conception and surrogacy industries.
  • To end pre-birth matching and "expenses" paid directly from prospective adopters to expectant mothers. These currently allowable practices 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 on the mothers-to-be. Such practices open the door for adoption scams and are the cause of most all contested adoptions. 
  • To restore equal access for adoptees to their original birth certificates
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 perosn'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. 

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

In 1980 Mirah co-founded the original Origins, a New Jersey-based national organization for women who lost children to adoption.  Mirah 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 mothers asked for or were promised anonymity from their children. 

Mirah 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 in was entitled “In the ‘Best Interest’ of All: Equal Rights for Adopted-Separated Persons” spearheading a chnage of the language of adoptee access to their original, authentic birth certificates. Mirah argued the terminology of seeking "open records" that had been creeping along state by state since the 1940's when adoptee birth certificates were first sealedcreated images of opening Pandora's Box. 

Instead she 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 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 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.  This video speaks to Mirah.

Last updated 05/17/2020



  1. I am an adoptee. Told may 3 1968. Long beach memorial. But may have been transfered to los angles childrens hospital society for a hernia. Hospitalized for 2weeks. Foster care for 3 months. I was told adoption went through in august. Born at 3:12 in the afternoon. Dark brown hair. Big blue eyes. Narrow nose. Wide set eyes. I was told mother had an iron deficiency.

  2. Post your information on Facebook. Look for search angles on Facebook. Contact And also try DNA testing.