– Los Angeles Times

SANTA MONICA – Living with a secret is psychologically destructive, Annette Baran believed.

Baran, a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, co-wrote “The Adoption Triangle,” an influential 1978 book credited with giving early shape to the open-adoption movement.

Baran died July 11 at age 83.

She placed more than a thousand babies, her family said.

Watching the back-and-forth between the couple and birth mother, she said she thought, “This is pretty good. Why does this have to be secret?”

When they solicited opinions on open adoption ?!– 192(unknown) –>?the idea that birth parents and adopted family know who each other are ?!– 192(unknown) –>?they received more than 600 letters and interviewed many of the writers.

“The Adoption Triangle: The Effects of the Sealed Record on Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoptive Parents” resulted from that study. It helped popularize the argument that an adoptee’s knowledge of birth parents is crucial to his or her identity.

Adopted adults “told us the reunion with birth parents made them feel normal and whole, for they finally experienced genealogical connections,” the researchers wrote in 1980 in a letter to the Los Angeles Times.

For birth parents, there is “always a lingering pain for that child given up for adoption,” they wrote. “Birth parents do not know if that child is alive or dead, well or ill.”

“All adoptees, if they have a shred of intelligence, have to assume somebody dumped them,” Baran told the Chicago Tribune in 1985, displaying the forthrightness that was a hallmark. Knowing about their background can ease those fears, she said.

The book significantly altered people’s attitudes about adoption, according to several histories of adoption in the United States. The authors “quickly became the intellectual patron saints of the adoption rights movement,” E. Wayne Carp wrote in the 2000 book “Family Matters.”

Today, varying levels of open-adoption practices have become the norm, said Chuck Johnson of the National Council for Adoption.