Dian Patrice Wellfare
1951 – 2008
I never met her. I have an email or two from her. She created Origins NSW and from her activism grew Origins USA, created by Karen Wilson Buterbaugh.
Both women lost their first-born children to adoption, because they were single and middle class and outcast ...and because infertile women wanted babies so bad they would buy them. Social workers and agencies and baby brokers and public opinion said that was a perfect solution. The authorities colluded with parents and churches to demand that the babies be surrendered to adoption and sold to infertile, married women. Many millions of babies were force-surrendered. Many tens of millions of dollars were made by brokers and lawyers. Many millions of girl/mothers never got over their loss; never. Dian was one of those young mothers.
Dian and Karen and millions of other young girl/mothers lost their precious first-born tinfants to adoption. They had no choice. Every authority-figure in their young lives dictated the outcome: surrender your infant, do the right thing, don’t be selfish.
Dian died last week of pancreatic cancer, at her home in NSW, Australia. She lived her short life fighting for all the mothers who lost their babies to adoption. Here is the lovely eulogy read at her funeral by her dear friend and colleague, Lily Arthur. Dian's funeral was held Tuesday 22nd April 2008 at 1.00pm, South Chapel, at Rookwood Crematorium, Rookwood NSW.
Eulogy For Dian
by Lily Arthur
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead Margaret Meads quote was the beginning of the transformation for changing the thinking about adoption not only here in Australia but throughout the western world
A small group of mothers headed by Dian Wellfare brought forth a voice to millions of women all over the world who had lost their babies to the adoption machine.
Dian was a sixteen year old single mother when she lost her only and beloved baby to the evil practices that were rampant throughout this country. Her baby swept away and hidden away from her without her ever having looked into his face. She had suffered the most mortal wound that could beset a mother….. the loss of her first-born infant.
It was a wound from which she would never recover, an invisible wound that would bleed for many years, until she finally set eyes on her one and only child for the first time.
She referred to her awakening as finally coming out of the “fog” that clouded her mind. With the determination of a Titan, Dian started to deal with the catastrophic blow that had been dealt to her and her baby.
Reaching out to women in 1995 she found a few mothers who shared her experience. It was from this small group of mothers that Dian founded a support group known today as Origins. It was to be the birth of her vision that has had a dynamic impact exposing the damage of mother and child separation.
This small group grew and became an organisation that would research not only the mental health damage of adoption but also the illegal practices that saw 150,000 women like Dian lose their babies in Australia.
Many long hours were spent trawling libraries and bookshops searching for books, papers and anything she could find on adoption. Her library on this one issue would be the envy of any agency that dealt with the subject.
And over a short period of time it became apparent to Dian, that young vulnerable women like her were used as “social experiments” to cure the problems of the infertile couples demanding children.
In her own words, “the truth about the lies and crimes of the perpetrators came flying off the shelves at her”.
Outraged and motivated to expose the truth of one of the greatest violations of women in this country Dian set herself on a course that would take her voice not only across Australia but across many lands and into the minds of so many other mothers who were “asleep” or in a trauma blocked out by the catastrophic loss of their babies.
Like a sleeping giant finally waking, mothers across the world finally started to see the truth of the adoption myth. I was one of those women.
As a student in 1997 it was one of my assignments to study the dynamics of a group. Never have dealt with my adoption issues I decided to study a support group that focused on adoption.
I made my first phone call to Origins in April of that year and for the first time I spoke to Di. It was a phone call that would not only change my life but would also bring about a friendship that spanned the past 11 years.
I went along to my first support group meeting, and for the very first time met a woman who not only inspired me but the only one who finally gave me the courage to voice one of the greatest catastrophes of my life, the loss of my baby. It was a secret so horrible, I had held it in silence and shame for over three decades.
For the first time in my life I was finally given permission to talk not only about my loss but to finally grieve openly for my child.
But this was not only my story, this was the story of many mothers like myself. Dian gave back the voices to many, many, mothers to do the same. For once in our lives we could openly talk of our pain and suffering, not as victims but as any mother who had lost a child though any other circumstance.
By helping mothers to finally have a voice, Dian gave us not only the confidence to speak up, but also gave us the courage to demand accountability for the actions of those who had not only committed us to a life of misery and shame, but also committed the most heinous crimes against motherhood known to mankind.
As Dr Geoffrey Rickarby once said, “ it was the ultimate rape of the female condition”.
Her energy was breathtaking and her determination and courage was dynamic, she had the capacity to lead mothers into battle to regain their dignity and reclaim their integrity
With a burning desire for justice, and to prove to her beloved son Andrew that he was loved and wanted, and that he was stolen from her, Dian took the State of NSW to court in 1996.
She lost her action along with 2 appeals.
The blatant denial of justice would have been enough to crush the most hardened of litigants but not for Dian. It drove her on to demand a parliamentary inquiry into adoption practices on the ABC Lateline, program. With nerves of steel she presented her arguments in such an articulate manner that she flustered a seasoned adoption expert into capitulation.
From then on Dian was not to be silenced and encouraged mothers to see their local politicians and lobby them for an inquiry. After two demonstrations led by Dian outside state parliament house we finally got our Inquiry into adoption practices.
I was with Origins when this event happened and did my best to support my friend. No one saw Dian working over her computer day and night putting together the submission that drew together and finally made sense of the history and crimes of adoption.
Driven on by the loss of her court case and the quest for truth she finally presented a document of over 200 pages to the Inquiry, the basis of a book and all done over a period of a few short weeks.
She thought that finally the truth would be exposed. It was out there for the world to read
Two and a half years later after mountains of evidence and over 300 mothers stories, we finally saw the report handed down in the year 2000, the report finally acknowledging adoption practices committed against mothers like herself were illegal, but what happened to that truth?
As fast as it came out it was swiftly buried once again by a government that cowered from dealing with its own crimes.
Following the release of the report, Dian retreated from the world. Her thoughts only concerned looking after and counselling mothers and the adoptees that rang her. She was their lifeline and they hers. Her only contact with the outside world was through those people that called and those she spoke to through the internet.
Mothers became her sisters, and young men and women adoptees saw her as their mother figure. Dian was known as “Motherluv” on her forum. She showed love and care, and also took much pride in her boys Matty, Charlie and Skelly.
In the long hours of the night, hers was the voice that calmed the broken, the traumatised and the hopeless who turned to her. She was the one that so many people turned to, where they could not find anyone else to understand the level of their pain.
She was the one who could reach into their wounds and calm and heal their suffering, all this love and compassion unselfishly given to others and never dwelling on her own pain.
Not only a rock that offered safety to so many, she had become a fountain of knowledge on adoption, and through that knowledge changed the attitudes of people not only in Australia but also throughout the rest of the world.
Her statements were profound. On typing in her name to Google recently, I brought up many links to a quote she made, this is one of many.
“In order for an adoption to be successful you must first destroy the mother”. This quote led to people all over the world debating adoption, from a 12year olds’ essay to a students PHD thesis
Her analogies were famous and attracted much criticism, one of them questioning the art of parenthood, where she says to an adoptive father.
“Don't flatter yourself too much about parenting. It hardly takes intellect, just instinct. Even monkeys do it hanging upside down in a tree, scratching their bums at the same time.”
“In case you still don’t get it, which you obviously won't, it means: don’t think you're superior because you parent. Even monkeys do it.”
“...you sure you can't hang upside down in trees?......oh nevermind.”
This one post that she put on an American forum attracted thousands of responses that led to debates for months, a sure sign of her impact on adoption theories
Still believing that justice must prevail over evil, Dian, a woman of “superior intelligence” as Dr Geoffrey Rickarby describes her, took her case back into court again in December 2006.
She spent nearly each waking hour, minute and second of the day for 2 solid years, to study the laws that were broken to argue her case against the state for fraud.
Hidden in a deserted court building away from the view of the public and court reporters, she single handedly presented her legal arguments in The Supreme Court of NSW.
I was privileged to have sat with her that day, the two of us against the State.
Dian, Courageous, Magnificent, a Lioness, slayed the dragon and tore down the arguments of the State, and they knew it. Once again their cowardly response was again to deny her justice.
Here is where things become hard to speak of.
Since that day and over the past 2 years I have watched my friend suffering with her health, never really complaining about the pain she was suffering, and through this pain she still maintained the strength to counsel mothers and adoptees, and redecorate her much loved home at Dulwich Hill. Still giving of herself to everyone and everything that needed her.
Her vision was to move into another chapter of her life where she could once more become active and enjoy life again. But as we know now this was not to be. The pain that disguised its self as symptoms of other illnesses, manifested to an illness that was to ultimately reveal itself as her most destructive adversary.
Over the past week I have had listened and read messages from people all over the world paying tribute to her, each one of them acknowledging that she was unique, all agreeing that never again will anyone have the persona to attract so much discussion on adoption as Dian. She was the catalyst that can never be replicated.
Reflecting now as a friend to Dian, I would like to express my own feelings for her.
Someone told me recently after losing another dear friend that the greatest love stories were usually those shared by friends, and in the case of Di and I this would be so.
From our first meeting, she gave me the strength and courage to walk with her on a journey that would take us into places where even the very bravest of people hardly dared to venture.
She awoke my sleeping mind and gave me back a dignity that I had lost for so many years. She gave me the knowledge to fight for and to find my stolen son and to have him back in my life again.
She gave me the courage to fight at her side for justice for women like myself.
She gave me back myself, a person who was lost to herself so many years ago.
Never a hard word, or too busy to chat, we spent many hours discussing the directions of Origins, our children, our families and our problems, Dian always playing the devils advocate for difficult situations.
She always had a very special way of seeing the most difficult problems in a clear and simple light.
These were the gifts that were not only given freely to me, but also to other mothers she came into contact with, here in this country, and far across the seas.
Never ashamed of herself, she challenged people’s values, beliefs, and minds, and this brought her respect even from people with the most strongly held opinions.
She was insurmountable and openly declared her love for her son Andrew through her every deed, suffering and quest, taken not for herself but firstly for him
She elevated mothers from being victims of a cruel and evil catastrophe. She inspired them to openly speak of their grief as she has done, and not feel ashamed to declare their love for their lost children.
Dian has given Origins and those who have come into contact with her every thing a person could possibly give. She has given us the ultimate gift, her life, and we can never repay her for her love, devotion and compassion, and we thank her for the strength she has given us.
We who have loved her can honour her by standing in the truth she left us and by staying strong and making her life’s sacrifices count for something.
I believe that she is now watching over us, her wings wrapped tightly around us all, her family, her mothers, their children and friends.
Her love and strength will keep us safe and one day we will all have the justice that our beloved leader fought so desperately hard for.
We who knew and loved Dian will share the sadness and loss with her beloved family, her mother Marion, father Gregor, her sisters Dale, Donna and Debbie and their families.
In a promise made to her a few short days before she left us
The committees of Origins, NSW, Queensland and Victoria promised to carry on with her vision, and even now I know that she is lobbying with a higher authority than anyone here on earth for justice and peace for her friends.
The journey has come to an end for Dian and we who cherished her were blessed to have shared it with her.
It is now goodnight and time to say…… Sleep well, beloved daughter, sister, mother and friend.