BJ Lifton: New York Times Obit

Today’s New York Times offered a featured obit on BJ Lifton who died last week of complications of Pneumonia: Betty Jean Lifton Dies at 84; urged open adoptions. Although the obit conflated open adoption and open records, it’s an otherwise good review of BJ’s life. I had no idea she was 84. I’m bad a age. I thought early to mid 70s. When “Twice Born” was first published, there were few books about the adoptee experience. Adoption in general was a veiled topic, and adoptees — assuming they were told anything — rarely knew their given names, their birth parents’ identities or the precise circumstances of their adoptions. As a result, generations of adoptees grew up with a void where their personal histories should be and, Ms. Lifton argued, with deep feelings of confusion, grief and loss. “When I was born, society prophesied that I would bring disgrace to my mother, kill her reputation, destroy her chances for a good bourgeois life,” she wrote in “Twice Born.” She added: “I say that society, by sealing birth records, by cutting adoptees off from their biological past, by keeping secrets from them, has made them into a separate breed, unreal even to Continue Reading →

Small Update on BJ Lifton

I’ll be updating and expanding last night’s post on BJ Lifton’s passing. In the meantime I have a couple updates from Facebook. As I learn more I’ll post it here. BJ’s husband Bob, posted this on FB tonight I am Robert Jay Lifton, and write to convey the extremely painful and deeply sad news that BJ, my wife of 58 years and lifelong partner, died on Nov. 19 in Mass Gen Hosp of complications of pneumonia. I want to thank you for your overwhelming outpouring of loving testimonials. We are planning a memorial and will notify you of its date. Also on Facebook Cathie Hanlon has organized A Moment in Memory of BJ Lifton: Stop for a moment, say a prayer for her family. Remember BJ’s fortitude. She spoke for us all! She was our voice who sought the truth for us all! Click on the link to “attend.” Of course, you can do this on your own, too.

We Lose Another One: B J Lifton

At 11:45 tonight B J Lifton died. I don’t have the details but I know she had been hospitalized with pneumonia for the past week. I haven’t seen any details yet, but I’m sure some will be forthcoming tomorrow. I first read BJ’s books in 1980, right after I got I got my obc. I took Lost & Found out of the Ohio State University Library. It was old and beat up having undergone numerous readings. I was stunned that somebody was actually writing about adoptees from an “us” POV. ” Although I didn’t agree with everything she said, I was hooked. For the longest time I was convinced that nobody else would ever write about adoption, at least not that way. In a way I was right. I didn’t meet BJ until about 17 years later during the AAC Seattle conference. She had joined Bastard Nation. And boy, were we excited to have such a prominent member. Alfie and I were in the hospitality suite. Alfie was dressed as a cow and I was wearing a big red devil’s tail. Shea was with the band. BJ took my hand. I didn’t know what to say. All I could think Continue Reading →


Yay! The University of Michigan Press has just released the 3rd ed. of Betty Jean Lifton’s classic Lost and Found: the Adoption Experience, the book that launched the contemporary adoptee rights movement. From the UMP webpage: The first edition of Betty Jean Lifton’s Lost and Found advanced the adoption rights movement in this country in 1979, challenging many states’ policies of maintaining closed birth records… This expanded and updated edition, with new material on the controversies concerning adoption, artificial insemination, and newer reproductive technologies, continues to add to the discussion on this important topic. A new preface and afterword by the author have been added, as well as a greatly expanded resources section that in addition to relevant organizations now lists useful Web sites. The UMP site also includes a long list of online adoption resources–including Bastard Nation. Congratulations BJ! Here is BJ’s webpage.