Ruby Lee Piester
From 1963 to 1983, Mrs. Piester was executive director of the Edna Gladney Center in Fort Worth, Texas, where she supervised the placement of 7,800 babies. Her partner in compassion was Jim Piester, her husband of 61 years. The Piesters did not have any children of their own, but when asked how many children she had, Mrs. Piester said, "thousands."
For Ruby Lee, the starting point of her social work was serving the pregnant girls and women who came to Gladney. Rather than judging them, she cared for them, and encouraged and inspired them to think positively about their own and their children’s futures.
Her common sense, optimism, and Texas grit put her in conflict with some trends in social work opinion. In 1979, Ruby Lee opposed the Draft Model State Adoption Act, which would have eliminated privacy in adoption and betrayed tens of thousands of birthmothers who had been promised confidentiality. Ruby Lee Piester and Bill Pierce first met at a U.S. Senate hearing on this harmful act.
Ruby Lee saw adoption as healthy and satisfying for adopted persons, birthparents, and adoptive families, not as a lifelong challenge to identity and wholeness, as some adoption theorists do. "I have spent the better part of my adult life pressing the idea... that adoption is a positive experience," she wrote in her book, For the Love of a Child.
Ruby Lee died in 2003