Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dian Wellfare, 1951 - 2008

There are not enough loving words to describe Dian Wellfare, Founder and Director of Origins, Inc. New South Wales.

She has been a mentor, friend and heroine to thousands of natural mothers (of adoption loss) through the OriginsNSW website, message board and the Parliamentary Inquiry she and other Origins mothers demanded. Through their efforts, they were granted an Inquiry and, as a result, obtained an apology from their government for the unethical and wrongful removal of their newborns to adoption.

Dian’s strength and determination, her knowledge and intelligence contributed immeasurably to the benefit of all exiled mothers worldwide who had their children removed from them, whether before the Baby Scoop Era (post WWII - 1972), during the BSE, or since.
Dian created OriginsNSW and aided in the creation of chapters in other countries. She was strong and steadfastly honest in her interactions with other mothers and in dealing with pro-adoption organizations, government and the media. She did not back down from any opportunity to educate, always telling the absolute truth, even though it was information that people might not want to hear or accept.

The Truth. Millions of mothers worldwide had their (usually) firstborn babies wrongfully removed simply because they weren’t married and/or did not have the funds to protect their civil, legal and human rights. Dian took every chance to describe what occurred to create this phenomena of babies removed, especially during the Baby Scoop Era (a short window of time when more babies were removed from vulnerable, unprotected mothers than at any other time in history, before or since).

It is a painful truth - a very uncomfortable truth to hear - but it is The Truth, and to this end Dian never wavered. She was courageous and steadfast. Always available to support any mother who reached out for help. She was always available to the media to explain the complexities of adoption surrender: how it amputates natural families; how it devastates the lives of young, at risk mothers who surrender not knowing the life long consequences; how mothers don’t just lose their babies; they also ultimately lose their self esteem, their trust, their futures... and then their grandchildren and great grandchildren into infinity. How mothers pay the ultimate price with no pardon, no parole - for the Crime of Motherhood.

Dian Wellfare diligently, doggedly and tirelessly brought The Truth to the general public via the media, via the Internet, through government, and then even fought through two court cases in an effort to obtain justice in regards to her own experience.

Dian is a true pioneer whose worth, whose value, has yet to be fully understood and measured. But there is absolutely no doubt that if her contributions are not yet known, they certainly will be at some point - recorded for all time.

We mothers bow our heads in respect and honor. We offer prayer on her behalf. We cherish her legacy and memory. She was everything to us. We cannot compute the depth of the loss of her.

Second Verse: Not The Same As The First

There are striking differences between the experiences of BSE mothers and newer era surrendering mothers. Sweeping social change in the ways Americans viewed women and their roles, technological advances in gynecological and obstetrical care, the explosion in the availablity of information previously hidden from public view, the growth of psychological understanding, and a more open, tolerant society have all contributed to these changes. The foundation was laid in the early and mid 1970s, with the Supreme Court of the land striking blow after blow for the protection of women's Constitutional rights. Congress also contributed landmark legislation in the same time frame. Among the most important change making decisions and federal laws are the following:

In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time ever that women enjoyed Constitutional protection from discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment, in Reed v. Reed.

Pregnant women were permitted to stay in school after the 1971 Supreme Court decision Ordway v. Hargraves. Before then, pregnant high school students were not permitted to attend regular classes.

The 1971 Supreme Court case Phillips v. Martin Marietta established a mother's right to be free from discrimination in hiring practices because she has children.

In 1972, Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments. It bans sex discrimination in schools. It states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." A direct result of Title IX is that professional schools (medicine, law) saw their population of women students increase dramatically for the first time in history.

Birth control methods were readily available to unmarried women after 1973. The Supreme Court did not strike down state law prohibiting contraceptive use by married couples until 1965 (Griswold v Connecticut.) It was not until 1972 that the Supreme Court ruled that unmarried people have the right to contraception ( Eisenstadt v. Baird )
Safe, legal, abortion on demand was not readily available to unmarried women until Roe v Wade, 1973.

There was little to no way to enforce child support payments prior to the Social Security Amendments of 1974.

1974 was a banner year for women's rights. Congress also passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. It prohibits discrimination in consumer credit practices on the basis of sex, race, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or receipt of public assistance. As a result of being able to establish their own lines of credit, women can now get credit cards, take out auto loans, and rent apartments independently.

Finally, in 1974, sex was added to the list of protected classes in the Fair Housing Act, which was first enacted by Congress in 1968. Before that time, women could be, and were, discriminated against by sellers or renters of housing properties.

In 1975, the Supreme Court decided in Cleveland Board of Education v LeFleur, that employers can not force pregnant women to take unpaid maternity leave after the first trimester because it impinges upon women's due process rights.

1978 saw Congress pass The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It bans employment discrimination against pregnant women. Under the act, a woman cannot be fired or denied a job or a promotion because she is or may become pregnant Further, she can not be forced to take a pregnancy leave if she is willing and able to work.

These rapid changes in the legal standing of American women between 1971 and 1978 ushered in an era of increasing economic, social and educational independence for them. With this independence came changes in women's personal power. Practices and attitudes towards women that had been the norm for a century or more were swept away in a tidal wave of social change. Advances in reproductive medicine were also occurring during the 1970s with widespread acceptance and use of the birth control pill. Coupled with the new legal standing of women, practices which had been unremarkable, everyday and "normal" before and during the Baby Scoop Era, became unthinkable.

Can anyone really imagine taking away a contemporary young woman's clothing, name, money, cell phone, Ipod, computer and access to any and all media except that which you allow her, triple locking her away behind a tall fence, reading her mail as it comes and goes, keeping her friends away, and actively brainwashing her until she gives that little baby up?

They wouldn't dare.

Can you imagine hospitals allowing women who are giving birth (usually for the first time) to labor alone, drugging a woman up until she has no strength to push, and then withholding the baby immediately after birth?

Neither can I. And I imagine that neither can any insurance companies.

The fact of the matter is that adoption practices of the Baby Scoop Era are gone. No sane person is going to open themselves up to a civil/human/ Constitutional/malpractice lawsuit brought by a young woman robbed of her baby.

The fact is that in 2008, adoption is marketed to young women and their families using the latest discoveries of consumer psychology. The concept of disallowing one's own motherhood in order to become a "Good Mother" is a logical fallacy. This is good old fashioned, garden variety, nuts and bolts style mind twisting, yet another chorus of "If you love him, you will let him go."

People have bought into it since Gibran first wrote it. And they will continue to buy into it. It's doubtful that Gibran was thinking about the separation of mother and newborn when he wrote that. But that's what the marketing gurus have made of it.

And that is finally the point.

Failure to grasp the fact that there are major cultural, psychological and historical differences between THEN and NOW and an insistence on lumping the two eras together as if they were one is much more than an academic error. It's a fundamental error. It is a failure to identify the tactics your enemy uses against you. It obscures and does not illuminate. It only adds to the fog on the battlefield of AdoptionLand.

Adoptionists of all varities are no longer stripping women of their Constitutional rights. Instead, they are appealing to women's open-heartedness, their idealism, and their guilt and loneliness. That's what's happening. And, it's working; women are responding.

Women and their families are succumbing to adoption marketing.

Pregnant women are the first consumers of adoption services. Any natural family preservation strategy that ignores, overlooks or fails to grasp this basic fact is doomed to fail.

You go to war with the enemy you have, not the enemy you wish you had.

Failure to address this most basic of facts because of a stubborn insistence on lumping together apples and oranges, or a refusal to recognize that past practices are indeed gone, or a failure to grasp that the dynamics of obtaining newborns for profit adoption have shifted into another universe entirely, can only lead to more failure.