Monday, July 19, 2010

A Fitting Tribute: Annette Remembered

Annette Baran, author, crusader for open adoption, dies at 83
Read more:

If you have any photos that include Annette, please send them to Pam Hasagawa or to Annette's family.

I have to say again that I simply cannot understand the few who fault Annette for her early work in adoption, following what was taught in social work school, when she did so much good - for the vast majority of her adult life - to reform it!

There seem to be some people who cannot understand how different life was in the 60s. They cannot recognize that the 1950s and 60s were as different from today as Victorian times. We not only could not wear shorts or jeans to school - we could not wear pants at all, even on the coldest days. In the bitter cold, we wore them under our skirts and had to take them off when we got to school. Lipstick was taboo all through high school (though we snuck it). In my home the word "stupid" was the worst word you could use.  And I was raised in Brooklyn, NY - not the midwest or deep south...and in a non-religious, LIBERAL home!

Rock-n'roll was considered the devil's music by most of the country and DJs were banned from playing many artists. And during my lifetime, Black people were segregated in many ways still, including in school, until Brown vs the Board of Education in 1954 a year before Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of a bus. The Woolwoth sit-in in NC occurred in 1960! In 1965 voting and registration rights bills for Blacks were still being passed. And the year I was persuaded to lose my daughter to adoption, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was shot.

Childbirth was also very different. Lamaze did not exist in the U.S. as an accepted practice until well into the 70s.  Mothers were retunirely put out for childbirth, some restrained.

Mothers whose babies died had them whisked away without a peek, as that was thought best. Would you beat up on the doctors, nurses and social workers who prescribed to that theory?  And so it followed through to adoption practices.

Babies were believed to feel no pain. They know now that is not true. Babies were put to sleep on their stomachs - without knowing that could suffocate and die in their sleep!

We sat in the sun for hours on end - even using baby oil and reflectors to multiply the effects of the sun - without any knowledge that it was dangerous and caused cancer. For that matter, smoking was considered glamorous and there was no knowlegde that that too was a carcinogen.

Sex was taboo. TV shows never mentioned anything sexual - even between married couples.

In adoption, mothers were told to put it all behind us and start ove frwh Forget and get on with lives. it was beleived we could. Adoptive parents were routinly counseled not to tell their children they wer adopted so the child would feel he belonged to them and wa snot different in any way form other children born into their families. These things were beleived to be best.

To hold Annette to the fire for her long past work that she since denounced is to hold Abraham Lincoln responsible for the slavery that occurred prior to the civil war or to find Jonas Salk culpable for those who were crippled by polio before he created the vaccine that all but eradicated that disease.

Annette was a product of the social work school of her day. But she saw it as wrong, denonced it and worked to turn it around. She was a whistelblower.

Those who see wrong and do something to change it are to be applauded not castigated for not doing it sooner....especially not by those who have done NOTHING, half of whom were "asleep" through the entire revolutionary change in adoption Annette Baran spearheaded.

As this article above points out, she was the first to HEAR US: adoptees and mothers!  She heard us and she became our spokesperson in the professional community and MADE THEM hear us in ways that we never could!  Annette wrote Adoption Triangle in 1978. What were YOU doing to change adoption practice in 1978? Unless you were doing MORE than she was (which is no one) you have no right whatseover to belittle this woman and her work.

Anyone who could read her words seeking to change adoption to guardianship and do anything but praise her is simply ignorant, IMHO, and unable to comprehend logic and the value of what this woman has accomplished in her lifetime. That all she called for has yet to be accomplished is a fact, just as racism still exists long after all the efforts of people like Martin Luther King forged the path where none had previously existed. They showed the rest of us the way. It is up to us to follow in their footsteps with gratitude and appreciation for their courge to blaze trails.

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. ~ Aristotle 

Rebels and dissidents challenge the complacent belief in a just world, and...they are usually denigrated for their efforts. While they are alive, they may be called "cantankerous", "crazy", "hysterical", "uppity", or "duped". Dead, some of them become saints and heroes, the sterling characters of history. It's a matter of proportion. One angry rebel is crazy, three is a conspiracy, fifty is a movement. ~ Carol Travis

Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile I caught hell for. ~ Chief Justice Earl Warren

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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