Friday, April 17, 2009

Toronto Mothering Conference

I am pleased to report that I will be presenting at “Mothering and the Environment: The Natural, The Social, and The Built” October 22-25, 2009, York University, Toronto, Canada.

It is an opportunity to share our issues and exciting that feminists are beginning to listen.

The conference is presented by the ASSOCIATION for RESEARCH on MOTHERING.

The Association for Research on Mothering (ARM), founded in 1998, is the first international feminist organization devoted specifically to the topic of mothering-motherhood. Our mandate is to provide a forum for the discussion and dissemination of research on motherhood and to establish a community of individuals and institutions working and researching in the area of mothering and motherhood.

ARM, first and foremost, seeks to promote maternal scholarship, both at the university and community level, by bringing together interested individuals to share their insights, experiences, ideas, stories, studies and concerns about mothering and motherhood. ARM is concerned in both membership and research, to the inclusion of all mothers including First Nations mothers, immigrant and refugee mothers, working-class mothers, lesbian mothers, mothers with disabilities, mothers of colour, and mothers of other marginalized groups.

We now have more than 500 members in 20 plus countries. Members include scholars, writers, activists, social workers, midwives, nurses, therapists, lawyers, teachers, politicians, parents, students and artists. ARM hosts an annual conference in October, as well as other events, including the feminist mothers’ group, Mother Outlaws. ARM houses the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering and Demeter Press. We welcome memberships to ARM and submissions to the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, our biannual publication, from all individuals.

My proposed presentation ABSTRACT:

The Empowerment of American Mothers who Have Lost Children to Adoption.

A brief history of American societal and political judgments of women post World War II to the present which deem who is and who is not “deserving” of being a mother based on age, race, marital and financial status will be presented.

Discussion will follow of the societal marginalization of vulnerable mothers and expectant mothers, their exploitation and the commodification of their children by a loosely regulated supply and demand multi-billion dollar adoption industry.

“Wake up Little Susie” and “Beggars and Choosers” by feminist and historian Rickie Solinger will be used to illustrate how women are pitted against women, casting some in roles like those of the fictional handmaidens described in Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaidens Tale”. Gifting economy theorists Susan Petrilli and Allison V. Scott’s explanations of “forced giving” likewise impact on mothers and create subtle pressure by being persuaded that it is unselfish and loving to give away their child to others who are more deserving.

Presentation will place the United States in context with other nations regarding motherhood, rights of natural mothers, kinship care, family preservation, and adoption. This will include a discussion of organizations that offer support to mothers who have suffered the loss of their children and that provide activism to educate and change attitudes and policies, empowering women, and advocate for mothers’ rights and preventing unwarranted family separations.

Presenter’s full biography, including Curriculum Vitae and links to publications, is available at:

Presenter’s Biography:

Mirah Riben is Vice President of Communications,, and author of “The Dark Side of Adoption”, “The Stork Market” and many articles. For over 30 years, Riben has been researching/ writing about American adoption practices. She has presented on radio, national television, adoption conferences, academic and feminist venues.


BD said...

Congratulations! This is great news.

Karen Lynn said...

Mirah, I am thrilled that you are coming to Toronto! I look forward to attending this conference and seeing you speak. I am hoping that we can get together along with some other local mothers during your visit.

Several years ago I presented at the same conference, in 2000 I think. I wrote about the history of adoption as it relates to the mothers, and explained some of my own story. I was presenting on a panel with a young mother who had only surrendered five years previously. She was a student and she presented her very academic paper. She listened with horror to my paper, I recall, as I explained the stats on secondary infertility among mothers who had lost their children to adoption. The audience reacted to my story in the way we are quite familiar with: they sucked in their collective breath when they heard that I had been forbidden to hold my baby, etc. Yet, they weren't quite ready to accept any political solutions to our 'problem'. Feminists all.

A couple of years later another mother, Sandra Jarvie, from the CCNM presented at ARM. On her panel was a very young mother who had only recently surrendered in an "open" adoption and she was there to promote adoption.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget