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The Welch family's survival story

”The Kids Are All Right”’s sibling authors recount the death of their parents, their foster care separation, and reunion

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Growing up in tony Bedford, N.Y., the Welch kids — Amanda, Liz, Dan, and Diana — lived a charmed life replete with country clubs and private schools. But then their father was killed in a car crash and their soap-opera-actress mother died of cancer, forcing the kids to separate. Now — nearly 20 years after they were handed off to various guardians — they’ve published a memoir, The Kids Are All Right. ”Realizing what we had survived made it really poignant for me,” says Liz, who spoke to EW with Diana. ”We landed on our feet. We really are all right.”

Why did you decide to write the book?

LW: I first started writing it [in 1994] when I was 25. But it wasn’t working. About four years ago, I sent [Diana] a chapter I had written about our father’s funeral, hoping she would give me some feedback. She called me and said, ”I have a completely different memory of Dad’s funeral.” And instead of even telling me what it was, she said, ”I’ll write it down and send it to you.” And then it was Diana that said, ”We should not only do two of us, we should interview Dan and Amanda.”

Did they hesitate to share their sides of the story?

DW: Not on the front end. But then we got into the process and we were asking them really intense personal questions and to go back to painful times. We all have had our moment of, ”Holy s—. I can’t believe this is going to be in the public eye.”

LW: I think because we did it together, none of us are ashamed of anything. Do I wish I was a raging kleptomaniac junior year of high school? Of course not, but I can look back at it now and realize, well, no wonder — my mother was dying, my father was dead. You can put it in perspective.

What was the most significant thing you learned about one another while writing the book?

LW: I got to look at myself as a 13-year-old who lost her dad and a 16-year-old who lost her mom. My older sister and I were given so much responsibility so young. I never got to be a 16-year-old who missed her mom. Writing the book, I really mourned my parents.

DW: One of my favorite things about this whole process was learning what my siblings went through while I was living with my guardian family. In my head, I imagined that they were all together somewhere having fun, and I was this sad little girl quarantined away from them. To learn that everybody was so isolated really contextualized my experience. I thought I had had it the worst.