August began with Annette Baran’s incredible memorial service in Santa Monica. With many of Annette’s dearest friends traveling across the country to attend, from Joyce Maguire Pavao to Martha Hulbert, as many Californians traveling hundreds of miles, from Sharon Roszia to Karen Vedder to Nancy Verrier and Sarah Burns, those of us from the adoption reform movement at the service had an opportunity to know Annette from new perspectives, through the eyes of her family and friends. Montages of Annette’s life and short video clips illuminated the life of this irreplaceable advocate for openness in adoption. It was fascinating (and hard!) to watch a video of Annette on “60 Minutes” back in 1975. She was spot on with her comments to Morley Safer – yet the exact same discussion could have taken place today, making many of us feel like we hadn’t moved the ball down the field very far in the 35 years since that taping – until we reflected on what Annette accomplished in her lifetime. 85% of adoptions are open today – and Annette was one of those who led the parade. While we continue to fight on behalf of an increasingly aging population of adopted citizens who seek to the know the beginning of their life story, we can celebrate the battles won in recent years. Annette’s pioneering efforts led the way for so many of us. We will miss her every day – and work hard to continue the work she began.
The day I returned from California, I received word that “For the Life of Me” will be screened on PBS in November! At the suggestion of my friend Peter Daulton, who has made the terrific short films “Flowers From the Heartland” and “Eyes Wide Open”, I submitted the film to NETA, which supplies programming to PBS. The film was selected and we’re now gearing up for the broadcasts with an outreach campaign. Hopefully, we’ll be up and running by November 1st, when the broadcasts begin. There’s much to do – and everyone interested in having a broader debate across the country about adoptee access to records, is welcome to find ways to utilize the film as a tool to spark a discussion and hopefully engage new people to take action!