Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Belated Tribute to Annette Baran

Pioneer adoption reform pioneer and adoptee rights advocate Annette Baran died on July 11. Due to my unplanned writing hiatus, I am only posting our Bastard National Memorial today.

Annette Baran was one of those rare people in adoption: she listened to bastards and learned. She abhorred adoption secrets and lies. Going against her social work training, she worked for decades, with much opposition from "professionals," lobbyists, and adoption bagmen, to undo the damage caused by the adoption industry. She may have been a traitor to them, but she is a hero to us.

No one enjoyed kicking Annette around more than Bill Pierce, founding president of the National Council for Adoption. His NCFA Factbook 3 (no longer online) is full of attacks on Annette's "junk science" of adoption openess and honestly. Annette was, in fact, one of the most radical thinkers in AdoptionLand I have ever known. In her lifetime she moved from being the keeper of adoption secrets, to advocating open adoption--and records--to promoting guardianship and simple adoption over the closed secret system. Annette believed in adoptee dignity, integrity and identity. She believed that each of us have a right to our own identity, history, and documents. She believed the industry must take responsibility for the damage it has caused and continues to cause.

Since I knew Annette mainly by reputation I can't speak to any deep personal relationship. We emailed occasionally, and I met her only once: at the 2004 Kansas City AAC conference. During her opening keynote address, Annette, much to my surprise, took a few moments to acknowledge and celebrate Bastard Nation and our leadership in the struggle to regain our rights.

Longtime adoption reform activist and poet Maryanne Cohen knew Annette well and wrote the following memorial, posted with Maryanne's permission, below.

Annttte's obit from the LA Times is here. A memorial page for Annette is here.


A small bright bird
Filled with life
she graced the space she filled
Always moving, never still
except to listen to a friend
which she did with full heart
Her kind eyes saw you
her silence let you fill the cup
Her words were milk and honey
on any hurt or fear

I knew her as grey but never old
Her spirit ever young, eager
for the next adventure, the next laugh
the next delicious shopping trip

Annette knew what to buy, and where to find it
What to read, I loved every book
she led me to, her wisdom
carried on, oblique, in other's words.
She showed me the lipstick that won't wear off
said, "it will change your life"
Her sense of style impeccable, unique
A joy to see
A joy to follow

My Yiddishe Mama, witty, wise
down to earth, a true friend
Annette stood before a crowd
at an adoption conference once,
and said "I am sorry
for what my profession has done,
for what I have done"
That's all, no excuses, no justifications,
No Big Buts......

Just courage, integrity, intelligence and class
She laughed at fools, the pompous, the self-righteous
She cried with those who truly grieved

Now we grieve her, her valor, her light gone from this world
But she shines on
In blessed memory
In her work we take up
In the quest for truth and justice
Still undone

She shines on.......

Mary Anne Cohen
July 2010
Rest in Peace, Dear Annette
The good race is run.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

PENNSYLVANIA: Bastard Nation Letter to Rep. Oliver: Please schedule hearings for HB1978

Dear Chairman Oliver:

I write today to urge you to schedule hearings for HB 1978, a bill that if passed would restore the right that all Pennsylvania adoptees once enjoyed: the right to his or her own original birth certificate (obc) with no conditions or restrictions. That is, to authorize the state to treat the adopted on the same legal level as those who are not adopted.

HB 1978 is an important bill. It is being watched by adoption advocacy and reform groups and individuals across the country.

The sealing of birth records is an archaic hold-over from an age when adoption was held shameful. That day has passed.

The restoration of the right of adoptees to their obcs is the keystone of ethical adoption practice not only in Pennsylvania but throughout the country. . As someone whose birth and adoptive families have deep Pennsylvania roots (Pittsburgh, Greenville and Bucks County), I would love to see Pennsylvania join the ranks of states that believe that the adopted and not-adopted should be treated equal under law. As an adoptee rights advocate, I am happy to see legislators in Pennsylvania come to the forefront to achieve that equality.

Please join us . Please schedule hearings for this most important bill.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Marley Greiner
Executive Chair
Bastard Nation: the adoptee rights organization

Bastard Nation is dedicated to the recognition of the full human and civil rights of adult adoptees. Toward that end, we advocate the opening to adoptees, upon request at age of majority, of those government documents which pertain to the adoptee's historical, genetic, and legal identity, including the unaltered original birth certificate and adoption decree. Bastard Nation asserts that it is the right of people everywhere to have their official original birth records unaltered and free from falsification, and that the adoptive status of any person should not prohibit him or her from choosing to exercise that right. We have reclaimed the badge of bastardy placed on us by those who would attempt to shame us; we see nothing shameful in having been born out of wedlock or in being adopted. Bastard Nation does not support mandated mutual consent registries or intermediary systems in place of unconditional open records, nor any other system that is less than access on demand to the adult adoptee, without condition, and without qualification.