Meet the Filmmaker

Filmmaker Jean Strauss has been writing books and making films about post adoption issues for the past twenty-four years, since her own reunion with her birth family in 1988. Her works have won numerous awards and accolades, but most important to her is that her films are being used to help educate others about what the secrets and legal barriers about one’s own information can feel like – and to inspire discussion about the issue of adoption reform. As Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Darryl McDaniels of RUN DMC has said, “No one starts a book from chapter one. But adoptees’ live their lives from chapter two. All we want is to know the beginning of our own story.” Read Jean’s Story.


  • ADOPTED: for the life of me (broadcast premiere, PBS November 2010)
  • Vital Records
  • Breathing
  • Holding Hands
  • The Triumvirate
  • The Masked Rider and Midnight Matador (premiere, Flatland Film Festival, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010)


  • Beneath a Tall Tree: a story about us (Arete-USA, 2001)
  • Forever Liesl: a memoir of “The Sound of Music” (NYTimes bestseller, Viking, 2000)
  • Letters to Liesl (Arete-USA, 2001)
  • Birthright: the Guide to Search and Reunion for Adoptees, Birthparents, and Adoptive Parents (Penguin, 1994)
  • The Great Adoptee Search Book (Castle Rock Publishing, 1990)


Filmmaker Brief for Media:

Jean Strauss is a New York Times best-selling author, legislative activist, and documentary filmmaker. With ADOPTED: for the life of me, she marries her twin passions of adoption reform and filmmaking.

A graduate of UC Berkeley and USC, wife of a college president and mother of two grown sons, she began making documentary films at the age of 50. Her short films won numerous honors, including American Cinematheque’s list of top women directors in “Women in Shorts”. Her books include Penguin’s Birthright: the Guide to Search and Reunion, her memoir, Beneath a Tall Tree, and the NYTimes bestseller, Forever Liesl: a memoir of The Sound of Music.

She currently lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, and in Purchase, New York, where her husband in the interim president of Manhattanville College. Adopted: for the Life of Me, her first feature film, is currently on public television.

To contact the filmmaker: [email protected]