researcher, author, lecturer
In 1980 Riben co-founded Origins, a New Jersey-based national organization for women who lost children to adoption. (This organization is the original origins and is unrelated to and unaffiliated with any other entity, including those subsequently similarly named.)
A former magazine editor, Riben, has been researching, writing and speaking about the need to reform, humanize, and de-commercialize American adoption practices since 1979. She was nominated 2009 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Public Citizen of the Year for her work in adoption. She has appeared on several national television programs, including Joan Rivers to discuss the Steinberg/Nussbaum murder of their illegally adopted child.
Click image to see and hear live interviews
Riben was among the very first mothers to publicly speak about the lifelong pain of losing a child to adoption. Risking imprisonment, she reunited hundreds of families separated by adoption and helped mothers prevent unnecessary adoption providing temporary shelter. After the 1987 murder by Joel Steinberg of his illegally adopted child, Lisa, Riben reunited the toddler boy found in the home Steinberg shared with Hedda Nussbaum with the family who had been pressured into allowing him to be adopted.
As a proponent of human rights with a focus on the rights of mothers, children and families in crisis, Riben supports family preservation and opposes all profiteering in adoption and falsification of original birth certificates. She opposes all coercive and exploitative tactics in both domestic and international adoption. She supports the replacement of sealed, secret adoptions with simple adoption, after all attempts to provide necessary resources for children to remain safely within their extended family have failed. Such adoption would legally maintain the child’s name as well as integrity of, and allow for knowledge of and contact with, the original family.
Riben has been keynote and invited speaker at numerous national and state adoption conferences including the 6th annual St John's University Adoption Conference, Oct. 2010; 6th Annual PLI Adoption Law Institute Conference, 2010; Association for Research on Mothering Conference, York University, Toronto, Canada 2009; 7th Annual NJ Research Conference on Women, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey 2007; Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference sponsored by The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and Ethica, Inc.