Mirah Riben


  1. Mirah - I just read your article from the Huffington Post: "Fundraising for Adoption: Who Benefits?" and found it to be incredibly insensitive to the plight of families pursuing adoption.
    My wife and I are middle income, yes. However, we have spent tens of thousands of dollars attempting to start our family through fertility treatments. This failed. We are a pre-adoptive foster home and have taken children into our home and helped them to be reunited with their family.
    We both work in the human service field, devoting ourselves to an industry that underpays us relative to our skillset, because we are kind and generous people.
    The notion that "if you can't afford it, don't buy it" is absolutely terrible.
    Living in New York, the least amount of money to adopt a baby will run us at least $25,000. Making $90,000 a year, this amounts to nearly 28% of our gross income.

    We are plenty financially able to raise a child, but who can afford to simply pay out almost thirty percent of their annual income to bring a child into their home. It is already painful enough that we are not able to conceive a child of our own and have seen foster children come and go, now we should not be able to fundraise because "if you can't afford it, don't buy it?"

    The notion that the adoptee is a commodity is absurd. The funds that are raised come from family and friends, a community, helping to bring a new life into its ranks. We cannot control the cost of adoption, the legal fees and administrative fees. We pay to support the birth mother during her pregnancy and our agency fees help the adoption agency provide services to those mothers as well.

    If a mother chooses to give up her child for adoption because she wants to give her a child a better life - she still will be if she adopts a family to us, as professionals with adequate income to raise and provide for a child in a safe and stable home.

    "One adoption fee can vaccinate tens of thousands of children..."

    It is not the fault of the infertile or adoptive family that adoption is inordinately expensive. Not every birth mother is giving up their child because of financial strain as you seem to imply. Shall we simply not adopt, and let children go to orphanages, or into social services, because adoption is immoral?!

    This notion that 'if you can't afford it, don't buy it' is so far off base, and so insensitive that I'm amazed you have any readership whatsoever.

  2. The fundraising for this purpose bothers me, too. It's an inordinate amount of money, and only a fraction of that would help the mother and child stay together and the mother get on her feet. In sone countries, it woukd save an entire village or family. But the obvious point is, that's not what the PAPs want. Their only goal is to purchase a baby.

  3. I am very sorry for your infertility. However, that is a medical or lifestyle issue and you are trying to "resolve" it in a sense, with a social solution, and apparently fostering is not satisfying to you.

    You are responding to my article, "Fundraising for Adoption: Who Benefits?"

    Please note that the statement you quote twice is not something I myself said. I quoted a man who was adopted, named Adoptee, Kevin H. Vollmers. HE - not me - said:

    “if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.” He further states that "adoption fundraising degrades and disrespects adoptees by 'overshare[ing] their... histories' and in some cases by displaying photos."

    I personally give a great deal of credence and respect to those who have LIVED the adoption experience from the position of having been adopted.

    Further, "The notion that the adoptee is a commodity" is not my original thought. It is NOT "absurd" at all. Many adoptees, again, describe feeling like a used car when they see "waiting children" listed on line with photos and description. There is an adoptee blog entitled Pound Puppies. These are THEIR feelings! I, for one, do not deny them their feelings about having been adopted and that is why I have the following I do.

    Another adoptee I quoted said: “The mere thought that others contributed to save us would have added yet another layer to being an adoptee.”

    I strongly encourage you to read more of the writing adoptees and se it form their perspective.

  4. You are looking at adoption from your perspective only. You are not considering the feelings of the babies and children who are adopted as human beings who grow into adults with feelings of their own about the process of adoption. My article gave voice to those human beings. If you are upset by it, you are upset with them, not me.

  5. Unknown... reading your response to this published article was indeed very difficult. Very difficult to see past you, you, you and what YOU want. A fraction of the cost to acquire the child of another's could go to a mother and HER newborn to establish themselves... you and your wife could be regular VISITORS offering support and become an active part of child rearing this way. Instead, you demand equal rights when in fact nobody has any "right" to a child... biological or not.

  6. I spent over $100,000. trying to get my grandchildren out if foster care. Yes that's right about 125% my annual income and yet they were adopted by a foster family, strangers if you will. No one cries for the families loss and no one helped pay the bills. You want to talk about insensitive, I lost my grandchildren whom I knew and loved. I would have spent what ever it took. Unfortunately fighting the state is impossible.

  7. Dear unknown,

    Here are some articles about children being commodified by adoption:

    Profit-driven adoptions turn children into a commodity

    Foreign adoptions 'make children commodities', NGO challenges definition of human trafficking

    Children As Commodities

    Babies just another commodity

    International adoption made me a commodity, not a daughter

    Just the tip of the iceberg. I could continue.

  8. Research: Children commodified on adoption websites

    The Commodification of Children Through International Adoption

    Engaging the commodified face: the use of marketing in the child ...

  9. I wonder if you have only considered domestic infant adoption? In international adoption poverty is very much a causal factor.

    My suggestion to you is to widen your scope. Older children, sibling groups and children with health or learning issues are PLENTIFUL as I am sure you know since you are already fostering. Seems you only want a newborn however which is why the babies you are fostering are being reclaimed by their mothers. If you widen your criteria to children who's parents have had their rights terminated, you would not be disappointed by it falling though and would not have to fundraise to cover high fees which only apply to infant and international adoption. In fact, you might even get a subsidy in addition to the adoption tax credit, Win-win!

    You need to decide if your desire is to be parents or to try to replace the child you were unable to conceive.

  10. If the child gets really sick and needs tens of thousands of dollars worth of surgery, hospital stay, after surgery care, medicine (maybe for life), etc., are you going to fundraise for that, too?

    Extracurricular activities can be expensive. College?

    Siblings? I wanted siblings my whole life, and was jealous of all my (adoptive) cousins who had them. I was very angry with my dead adoptive mother (still am sometimes) for never telling me that I was adopted. Turns out I have four living half siblings I didn't know about or meet until I was 66 years old, and one who died before I could meet her. They are on my father's side. Had I known sooner, I could have spent more time with them. Quality time.

    I'm still searching for my birth mother. It's very complicated. I'm not at all upset with my birthparents, but I'm really, really pissed at my adoptive parents for not telling me. I can't confront them because they're both dead, but these feelings will never go away.

  11. Regarding the commodification of children via adoption:

    They are advertise for in the Classifieds and on Craig list like used cars and pieces of furniture!

  12. I just read your HuffPost article about adoption, and wanted to encourage you to learn more about the causes of infertility. Your assertion that we need more education to reduce infertility is somewhat true, as age does factor in to some cases of infertility, however it ignores the fact that infertility is a DISEASE, and downplays the very real trauma experienced by infertile couples as they combat very real medical issues such as endometriosis and male factor problems. There is a lot of shame and stigma surrounding infertility and perpetuating the myth that women “cause” infertility adds to the disenfranchisement of infertility sufferers. I highly recommend the book Reproductive Trauma by Jaffe and Diamond as a great resource for learning more about the mental and emotional toll of infertility, and has great resources for learning more about the various medical factors at play in infertility.

    1. Yes. There are other factors. Bjut you agree with my point that "more education to reduce infertility" is true - not somewhat. My focus is not on infertility per se but how it effects the demand for adoption.

  13. Dear Mirah,
    I am writing in response to your article Help Is Needed for International Adoptees Caught in a Legal — And Stateless — Quagmire in the Huffington Post on 06/30/2016 where you introduced stories of grown up adoptees who fail to prove their U.S. citizenship statuses and potentially end up being de jure stateless persons in limbo within the United States.
    Our group of stateless persons is looking for individuals who live in the US and are affected by statelessness. As you may know the US has not joined both UN Conventions on Statelessness and has not established its own determination procedure and protection for stateless persons. As a result the statistic on stateless people in the United States remains hidden. Our immediate challenge is to find each other and raise our voices in order to ensure our human right to a nationality.
    I would love to start a conversation with you about statelessness among adopted children in the US. We would like to find de jure stateless individuals to participate in various projects lead by domestic and international organizations that stand for our rights. Please contact me at

  14. Thank you Nick. I passed your mesage on to the folks at

  15. Hi Mirah, a friend forwarded me your piece on Sciota village. I have contacted the BBB, PA Attorney General, CFPB, the FTC, Erin Brokovitch & other media vocals to no end. All the .gov or .org folks, passed it back & forth to each other & nothing. I went & stayed at this time share in Oct of 2016. Liz (her last name is Maggio, btw) knew I had just been let go from my job & did not yet even have unemployment. I told her I was attempting to start 2 new businesses, but had yet to do so & that I was awaiting acceptance into a NYS program that assists people who are unemployed interested in opening their own businesses. This is all after my initial buy in years ago, where I could never get a stay (I was called to catch up with my dues & promised a stay if I did). So on this visit, I was told I was not an owner & all the money I had paid was for a trial membership (not disclosed to me at the time). Which is why they gave me the stay I was currently using. The long & short of it is, that she knew I had no income at the time, I paid my past dues of about $1900 in August (for this supposed trial membership) & was told with urgency that she could hold a membership for me if I signed now, heavy emphasis on having until the end of October 2016 to completely back out of it & get back every penny I had paid toward dues & the trial membership, & give me another stay for courtesy, but that the deal was only good to put to paper while I was there. She further stated that they would push my 1st payment out to the middle of December. All lies. When I called her in late October, after talking to friends & family & going over possible numbers for my 2 new businesses, I realized it was just not going to be possible & told her I was taking her up on the option to rescind the contract. She bold faced lied to me & said she had never said that & my window to cancel was 3 days. Any idea as to how to get these agencies to hold these people accountable. I saw on the BBB that I am not the only person, these people are killing the vacation dreams of people that cannot afford to take regular vacations & stealing hard earned money! Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated, they are listing themselves twice on my credit report & have killed my credit. Thank you, Kiera

    1. What has the PA atty general said or done? I will update my article with your comment (which i am confused as to why it i sposted here and not here).

      Other than that, all I can suggets is hire an attorney or go the POLICE.

  16. They told me they couldn't help me & forwarded me back to the CFPB