Please note all JCC building closures for Shimini Atzeret & Simchat Torah: Sunday, 10/20: Closing at 5:00pm; Monday & Tuesday, 10/21 & 10/22: Closed

Indoor Pool at Weinberg Park Heights JCC closed for exciting upgrades, 9/27-10/30. We apologize for inconvenience. Coed swim available at Owings Mills J. See schedule.  Read about upgrades on our blog.

Today's Building Hours
  • Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
    7:00am - 5:00pm
  • Weinberg Park Heights JCC
    7:00am - 5:00pm
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 6:04pm

Please note all JCC building closures for Shimini Atzeret & Simchat Torah: Sunday, 10/20: Closing at 5:00pm; Monday & Tuesday, 10/21 & 10/22: Closed

Indoor Pool at Weinberg Park Heights JCC closed for exciting upgrades, 9/27-10/30. We apologize for inconvenience. Coed swim available at Owings Mills J. See schedule.  Read about upgrades on our blog.

Join the J Locations Schedules
Today's Building Hours
  • Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
    7:00am - 5:00pm
  • Weinberg Park Heights JCC
    7:00am - 5:00pm
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 6:04pm

What Inspired The Good Adoptee?

Playwright Suzanne Bachner explains her journey

Award-winning New York City playwright Suzanne Bachner had huge questions to wrestle with when she first began searching for her birth parents 13 years ago.

When an adoptee chooses to search for their birth parents, Suzanne explains, “You have to consider, do you want to stay with a simpler, incomplete identity, or do you want to move forward towards embracing a dual identity and integrating those identities into one that reflects your true self?”

“When you don’t know where you came from or what happened to you from conception through adoption, you feel removed from human experience. This is an existential crisis. You almost feel as though life is not really true, this sense that you were not really born of this Earth.”

On Sunday, October 27, the Gordon presents Suzanne’s one woman, Off-Broadway smash hit play, The Good Adoptee, the riveting and true story of the playwright’s search for her birth parents. 

Adopted from New York City’s former Louise Wise Services Adoption Agency, Suzanne was welcomed into a warm, nurturing family and home when she was 10 weeks old.

Suzanne has always known she was adopted.  “My [adoptive] parents wove that fact into the narrative of my life,” she says. “There was no ‘find-out-event’ or revelation.  It was always something I knew. And, while many adoptees are not in synch with their adoptive families, I had the great fortune of being a great match with my parents.”

Suzanne is an only child, and, as such, explains she’s part of a familial triangle or “Tripod” as she and her parents call it, in which no one is biologically related. 

Suzanne’s adoptive mother is Catholic, her adoptive father is Jewish, and Suzanne is a self-described spiritual, secular Jew.

“As a young girl I was exposed to a lot of art and culture. My mom is a visual artist, my dad is a lawyer, a writer and also played the guitar, among other artistic pursuits. My parents also instilled in me a sense of social justice and the need to be aware and active.”

“I have a certain argumentative skill set,” Suzanne says, which works well for a writer of dialogue.

“I didn’t have a choice about becoming a writer,” she recalls. “When I was little, I used to tell and illustrate stories. I have books of stories I wrote pre-literacy, that my mom and dad transcribed. Ironically, I was in the lowest reading group in the first grade even though my mom taught me punctuation when I was very young before we learned it in school.”

“The storytelling process is very character driven, and that led me naturally to playwriting.”

Some of Suzanne’s fondest childhood memories are theatre memories, like when her grandmother took her to her first Broadway show -- The King and I.  And, when she was 10 years old and ran a theatre one summer – Rainbow Refreshments International – which charged super-high concession prices to all the moms, dads and grandparents, to keep itself afloat.

Suzanne considers herself a playwright first, but also has seen much success directing, especially solo shows such as The Good Adoptee.

The Good Adoptee started out in “long form,” Suzanne laughs.

“I was writing a lot about adoption, memoir-based work,” she says. “I felt I had to put something together as an autobiographical piece, and my partner in life and art Bob Brader [a highly regarded and renowned writer, actor and solo show artist who serves as the dramaturg for The Good Adoptee] inspired me to tell my story.”

When I started writing, it was like I had opened a spigot and I wrote down everything


“When I started writing, it was like I had opened a spigot and I wrote down everything – and I remember Bob, who is the dramaturg for the show saying, ‘I think it’s getting a little lengthy.’  So he had me sit down and I read the entire thing for him – and it was seven hours of material.”

Ultimately, Suzanne’s story broke down into three sections: Her Childhood as an Adoptee; The Search for Her Birth Parents; and a Third and Final Section (to be revealed October 27th when you go and see the play).

The Good Adoptee is primarily focused on The Search.

Suzanne says, “The Search material became the most dramatic expression of my search for identity, my search for connection with family, and the drive to find out who I am.”

“I really wanted to write about the basic need for all people to have access to their family history, origins, ancestry and genealogy – things people have but take for granted; it’s very easy to not cherish this fundamental personal information – most non-adopted people just knows their whole family history.”

An activist throughout her life, Suzanne explains, “Adoptees are party to massive discrimination – they often don’t have access to their adoption agency files and original birth certificates.”

“When I first went looking, I thought I could just get my file, but I found I could not have access to the file or my original birth certificate.”

“The birth certificate I grew up with is basically a ‘fake’ document – it lists my [adoptive] mom and dad as my parents at the time of my birth even though they obviously did not give birth to me – or even know me at the time. Your original birth certificate has your birth parent(s) listed and is thus authentic.

“Today, we don’t have a lot of secrecy or privacy, and people are curious about discovering their roots, as evidenced by the popularity of social media and consumer DNA sites such as Ancestry.com and 23andme. It’s a natural movement to become aware and active. And it’s a matter of equality, to have this single piece of paper. Most citizens have their original birth certificates -- adoptees don’t.”

In the majority of states, original birth certificate were sealed due to outdated laws originally intended to protect all parties in closed adoptions from stigmatization, and are reflective of the secrecy and isolation which were once regarded as best practices and no longer are.

But, Suzanne argues, “By granting adult adoptees the fundamental right to have their own information, we as a society can end discrimination and restore equality for adoptees once and for all.”

The Good Adoptee, starring Hayley Palmer as Suzanne Bachner -- and 10 other characters -- grapples with this issue and plays live at The Gordon Center, Sunday, October 27 at 3:00pm. For more information and tickets:   gordoncenter.com.