pioneer and adoptees-rights advocate, Reuben Pannor, died of complications of old
age at his home in Pacific Palisades, CA, on December 22, 2012, at the age of 90.
Pannor (and his twin brother, Harry) were born on
July 4, 1922, in the small Lithuanian village of Slobodka. When Pannor was eight
years old, in response to the growing antisemitism in Europe, the Pannors emigrated
to America, where his parents worked as tailors in a factory.
Pannor served in the Army Air Corps during World War
II, after which he attended Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY, where he earned an
undergraduate degree, and Columbia University, where he earned a Masters in
Social Work. Pannor married Puoghkepsie native Sydell Alpers, whom he met at the
Museum of Modern Art.
Pannor and his wife followed his twin brother, Harry,
to Los Angeles, eventually settling in Pacific Palisades. Pannor worked at the
nationally recognized child welfare agency, Vista del Mar of Los Angeles, where he
served as Director of Community Services and, later, as Director of Adoptions.
Pannors first book, The Unmarried Father
(1971), co-written with Byron Evans, was the result of his observations that the
needs of birth fathers were being overlooked.
Pannor further developed his key principles regarding
the rights of all parties within the so-called adoption triangle through his
professional interactions with birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees, by
which he noted that birth parents often suffered for years as a consequence of
their loss; that it was natural for children to wonder about their biological
origins; and that adoptive parents relationships with their children were
not necessarily harmed by openness about adoption.
Pannor championed the belief that knowledge of
ones origins should be a civil right for all, and, in 1978, co-wrote the
seminal book, The Adoption Triangle, with Annette Baran (who died on July
11, 2010, at the age of 83) and Arthur Sorosky, in which the authors put forth
the argument that adopted children had a right to know about their origins and
that closed-records laws should be repealed.
In another book co-written with Baran, Lethal
Secrets (1988), Pannor addressed the issues of secrecy and genetic heritage
for children conceived by anonymous donor insemination.
Excerpted from the April 2013
edition of the Operation Identitiy Newsletter
© 2013 Operation Identity