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Annette Baran

Advocate for Open Adoption
1927 – 2010

A native of Chicago, who spent her adult life in Los Angeles, Annette Baran was one of the pioneers of modern adoption. As co-author in 1978 of Adoption Triangle, the first book to advocate opening sealed records, she helped bring about dramatic  changes in the practice of agencies throughout the world. Trained as a clinical social worker, she oversaw the adoption of over 1,000 children over the course of her career. A wife and mother, she also maintained a private psychotherapy practice as well as teaching and training, researching and writing, and testifying as an expert witness.

by Joyce Maguire Pavao

It is of course impossible to say a few words about Annette and it is impossible to separate her work from herself.

I met Annette in 1978.  

She had written Adoption Triangle, and I was finishing a Master’s Degree, and as an adopted person, my aim was to get people/professionals to understand us a little better.  

Annette did!!   

I called her…

(I seem to have a habit of calling authors without blinking. I did the same with BJ Lifton about the same time! and a few years ago with Gregory Maguire. They have all become my dear friends. 

It’s no wonder Annette found herself in the World of Adoption… She adopted so many people who wandered into her life.  

She certainly adopted me, and my daughter, Seacia.

Annette Baran Doing a Crossword, 1999
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Annette Baran doing crossword puzzle in 1999.

Annette really should have been named Frank. She did not mince words. She did not suffer fools. And she did not tolerate unethical practices.

Annette began her career in adoption in an age of secrecy. She thought it would be a nice job to have! After all, these young women had untimely pregnancies and couldn’t raise their children, and other families wanted children and couldn’t produce them! Voila!!!  

But slowly she began to see the deep loss and pain involved, and she noticed that over the years, the people who suffered the most from the secrecy and lies were the children in adoption.

Annette was one to right wrongs as soon as she found them out. And so she made it her goal to educate people.

Annette gave many keynotes at conferences and always stirred people up and sent them into action.  

We taught a course together for DSS Supervisors at UCLA for a few years and had a blast working together. She called it our ‘Dog and Pony Show’ and she was the more radical of the two of us as we worked for change in the system!  

She saw lots of people in consultation and in therapy within her private practice, and sometimes we would have bi-coastal clients.  

Annette was a pioneer and an agent of change.  

Annette had a magnificent sense of humor as well as a sense of justice. You would never see Annette without her having gifts for you — some artifact from one of her travels —always exotic — fabulous earrings, or necklaces, or statues etc.

Her gift of knowledge was the most important one though, and she would inform all of us about what was wrong with the world of adoption, and how to remedy it.

Her books, the Adoption Triangle and Lethal Secrets, are required reading for people studying adoption and alternative reproductive technologies.

Annette made a huge difference in people’s awareness and understanding of the importance of truth and the civil right of access to one’s birth certificates and to information about one’s self.  

Annette was a pioneer and she was a change agent; she was a gifted clinician and an amazing teacher and a superb mentor.

She was a friend and a Godmother.  

She will live on in her family and in her "family by adoption.”

Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao is CEO and Founder of Center for Family Connections in Cambridge, MA and New York and a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Joyce is adopted and has love and admiration for her families by birth and by adoption.

Elsewhere on the web

Annette Baran, 2008
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Advocate for open adoption Annette Baran in 2008. Still from an Annette Baran interview.


How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Annette Baran, 1927 - 2010." (Viewed on January 17, 2018) <>.

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