Poetry: it inevitably relates to -- among others -- identity, history, culture, class, race, community, economics, politics, power, loss, health, desire, regret, language, form and genre disruption, love ... as well as the absences thereofs. The same may be said about Adoption.

Friday, March 1, 2013



I am a mother who lost her firstborn to adoption in 1968. I never forgot her and by 1980, together with four other mothers, I co-founded the original Origins: a national organization for mothers who lost children to adoption, based in NJ. We held monthly in-person support groups and produced a national newsletter. Members of our group were finding their children in far less than the better homes we had been promised. Disheartened and concerned, I searched and found my daughter to ensure that she was safe. I also began researching adoption and wrote my first book, shedding light on…The Dark Side of Adoption in 1988. The following year, while Director of the AAC, I helped organize the first march on Washington for Adoptee rights.
My activism has continued to this day resulting in my second book, THE STORK MARKET: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry in 2007 and many articles.



I am not a poet. I am a writer and sometimes use poetry to journal. Most of my poems are about my adoption loss.  Adoption has driven me to write…it is the only way I can cope with the pain, the grief, and the anger at the lies and deception of adoption.



Sacrifical Firstborn

first begotten one
firstborn of spirit
firstborn of flesh
child that opened my womb

Only one is called
firstborn of many
brethren in spirit
firstborn of many
in flesh

And others still,
like the child of Arsinoe,
who died while giving birth to
her firstborn child,
are first and only.

Your firstfruits shall be holy,
saith the Lord,
and shall be dedicated unto me
as a special offering

lamb of God
sacrificial lamb
sacrificed in spirit
scarified in flesh

…and God gave his only begotten son
son born of unwed mother
so that others…

…and God spoke to the Jews
and told them
to sacrifice
their firstborns no more

but God also asked
that atonement be made
so she shall be clean.

and netherworld demons
and peddlers of flesh
in the black-gray
underworld marketplace
seek out
and offer false promises
for a coveted
firstborn child

…and on the 31st day
firstborn sons become
and ritually
The Firstborn.

But sons (like mine)
who follow
in the wake 
of ghostly Firstborns
are forever displaced
as firstborn heirs.

Lamb of God
silent sacrificial lamb
sacrificed in spirit
special offering to God
seeking forgiveness
for the sin of your birth
yet taken by God
as a sacrifice in flesh

July, 1998

[This poem first appeared in the Summer/Fall 1998 Origins newsletter.]


MIRAH RIBEN is author of two internationally acclaimed books, shedding light on...The Dark Side of Adoption (1988) and The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry (2007) and numerous articles.

Riben is former Director of the American Adoption Congress and Past Vice President of Communications of Origins-USA, a national non-profit that advocates for mothers' rights and keeping natural families together. Riben has been researching, writing and speaking about the need to reform, humanize, and de-commercialize American adoption practices since 1979. She has appeared on several national television programs, and was keynote speaker at many conferences. She blogs at http://mirahriben.blogspot.com

Riben was among the very first mothers to go public in order to put a face on women who had been called the invisible party in adoption, publicly addressing the lifelong pain of losing a child to adoption. Risking imprisonment, she reunited hundreds of families separated by adoption and helped mothers prevent unnecessary adoptions. In 1980 Riben co-founded the original Origins, a New Jersey-based national organization for women who lost children to adoption (unaffiliated with any other similarly named organization).