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 of was, “I’m sitting next to BJ Lifton in this silly costume and she’s holding my hand”

Over the years I recovered and we became friends. She was convinced that someday I’d come around and get interested in the psychological problems of adoptees. I never did.

Every time I saw BJ the first thing she’d say was, “And how are the Bastards?”

The last time I heard that familiar question was at the ASAC conference at MIT this summer. She’d had health problems for some time. She seemed better, but looked frail. (Bobbi Beavers, BJ, Maryanne Cohen, MIT)

BJ brought so manly of us into the movement. She was exasperating sometimes, but never dull, and she always cared.

We’ll miss you, BJ!

I should have some old pictures. If I do, I’ll post them later.

13 Replies to “We Lose Another One: B J Lifton”

  1. I’m stunned beyond words. The times I spent in BJ’s company are among my most treasured memories in adoption reform. She was always so inviting and accepting that you instantly felt like family around her. She helped me get through some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced and I will greatly miss her presence in this world.

  2. I am heartbroken to hear this. I did not know she was ill now, but she did look very frail the last time I saw her at ASAC. BJ was a good and loyal and loving friend, as well as a beautiful and insightful writer. I’m crying, did not expect this yet.

    Bless you BJ and may angels greet you.

  3. I am sorry sorry. My condolences to all who knew and loved her. I have heard the most wonderful things about her from folks who knew her and her book is a masterpiece. A true pioneer too.

  4. I am also stunned – BJ is such a loss to our community. I first met her in 1988 while visiting my friend Carolyn Canfield on the Cape. BJ and Carolyn were friends and she came to our support group meetings.

    I most recently saw her at the Shedding Light on Adoption conference in Sept in NY. I was responsible for the book table where BJ’s books kept selling out as usual. And she was delighted that with all the new author’s work, her books are still so coveted. She was initially worried about how she would carry heavy books back from the hotel after the conference but the box was empty at the end!

    BJ wrote to me a couple of times when a small handful of first mothers were making negative comments on FB about Annette Baran’s work after her death. BJ was always a loyal friend and therefore totally puzzled at how these mothers who didn’t even know Annette, were making negative comments about her early work; even after the years she spent helping our movement. I mention this because it impressed me that BJ was righteous and indignent and felt the need to defend her dear friend. She kept reminding me of things that I should point out about Annette to these minimally informed mothers, who were so focused on marginalizing Annette, that they didn’t realize she was our friend.
    I am proud to have known BJ but
    as a first mother, I was often saddened when I read her books and heard her speak about how profoundly adoption had affected my found son. But I needed to know these things and one thing about BJ, she never sugar coated the truth.

    She will be so missed. RIP BJ

  5. I’m so socked, so stunned… I just say her in NY last month and she looked like… BJ!

    Strange twist of ironic fate that TODAY we hear word on National Adoption Day.. I hearby say that we should just move to change the name now! Be better fitting to remember and honor her!

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