Friday, February 27, 2015

Older Child Adoption and RAD

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)  We've seen it with all of the kids in some manner or other.  Some of ours have very few RAD behaviors. Some have quite a few. We have lived/live it and it does get better over time. But it's a reality not many people want to share because we all wish for rainbows and lollipops in our older child adoptions.

I am more of a "down to earth, give me reality so I can go in prepared" kinda gal:)

So here it is. 

According to Nancy Th*mas in her book When Love Is Not Enough, there are 23 symptoms that RAD children can exhibit. The child needs to have more than half the symptoms to be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. They are as follows:

  1. Superficially engaging & charming. This helps them to manipulate and triangulate.
  2. Lack of eye contact on parent’s terms. They avoid eye contact unless they are lying, then they make excellent eye contact.
  3. Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers. They don’t have appropriate “stranger danger” when they’re little.When they get older, they will hug and befriend anyone they think they can get on their side against their mother.
  4. Not affectionate on Parents’ terms (not cuddly). They give stiff hugs.
  5. Destructive to self, others and material things (accident prone).
  6. Cruelty to animals. Pets in the home of a RAD child are an “endangered species”.
  7. Lying about the obvious (crazy lying). It’s a hobby for these kids, and they’re extremely good at it.
  8. Stealing. They have no conscience, so if they want something they’ll take it. Plus, it makes them feel powerful.
  9. No impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive).
  10. Learning lags. They are constantly in an agitated, emotional state. They want to do things their own way, and they think the teacher doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
  11. Lack of cause and effect thinking. This part of the brain doesn’t function in the RAD child. Normal parenting methods such as star charts don’t work for them!
  12. Lack of conscience. It’s all about them – they don’t have the ability to care about others.
  13. Abnormal eating patterns. They frequently starve or gorge themselves.
  14. Poor peer relationships. They don’t have many friends because other kids don’t want to put up with their lack of conscience, need to be in control, and cruelty to others. Without help, this will plague them for their entire life.
  15. Preoccupation with fire.
  16. Preoccupation with blood and gore.
  17. Persistent nonsense questions and chatter. Nancy Th*mas says that normal people talk for two reasons: to communicate thoughts or feelings. RAD kiddos talk for three reasons: to interrupt, make noise, or control.
  18. Inappropriately demanding and clingy. Usually to get something they want.
  19. Abnormal speech patterns. They don’t speak clearly. They aren’t interested in learning good communication skills.
  20. Triangulation of adults. This is very common! Having adults united on one team is very threatening to children who don’t trust. In order to be in control, they divide and conquer by pitting one adult against another. This can be father against mother, grandmother against mother, teacher against parents, family friends against parents, and counselor against parents. They’ll triangulate anybody they can!
  21. False allegations of abuse. This is a bad one – how do you prove you did not do something?
  22. Presumptive entitlement issues. They think they deserve whatever they want, and it’s always something. This leads to draining their parent’s energy.
  23. Parents appear hostile and angry. This is very sad, and people that don’t have RAD kids don’t understand this. The more the parent loves the child, the more pain the child dishes out to get them to stop. The child had his heart broken as an infant, and he believes that love hurts. They do whatever they can not to be loved – they don’t use the parents love to grow emotionally strong. Parents are basically abused in their own home.

We are very thankful that we do not have anyone who is worse case scenario. In a way it's tough to have just some of the behaviors (not as hard as having worse case though) because oftentimes the behaviors aren't seen by others as RAD behaviors. Even we were not sure of what we were seeing when we had our first child present with some of the behaviors.

I think the hardest thing is the day to day grind of dealing with the behaviors. Dealing with them over and over, the SAME behaviors. We've noticed a few things with the ones with more of RAD behaviors as well-----

Extremely slow progress.   And I MEAN SLOW.  The immaturity seems to stall with them as well. At varying places, mostly much, much lower than their number age and as time goes by their slow creeping immaturity/progress is more and more apparent the older they get.

Others expect once they have been home "A few years," which all of ours have been now, that they will be near to catching up with their peers. And it's not always happening nor is much progress being seen. What is cute at 6 months home and 5-6 years behind in immaturity is NOT as cute 2-3 years home and still 5-6 years behind in maturity as they are now 2-3 years OLDER as well.

The biggest thing we have is firstly- a united front.  Mom and Dad on the same page. This was hard to come by at first. As with most RAD kiddos, due to the lost of trust in the nurturing figure (mother) they needed as babies, they do not want me, MOM to love them because that means they could lose me if they trust me. So therefore their behaviors are aimed at ME.

When we first encountered this many years ago we were blown away. Seriously.  And we looked at what WE were doing/ not doing that was causing the behaviors.  Only to come to learn there was NOTHING we were doing/not doing.  This is NOT the parents fault. This is not even the CHILD'S fault.  This is the damage done to a child denied timely basic care as infants.

So we have a code around here. Gonna share it with you adults:)  We call it PARTY TIME. (I told ya we cling to our sense of humor like nobody's business to remain sane:)  And what it means to hubby and me is "someone is showing/doing/ behaving in a negative (RAD) manner."  Because it was really hard for hubby to get clued in to what was happening IN OUR OWN FAMILY.  The behaviors aimed at me and me alone--- disrespect. Silent treatment. Rudeness. Refusal to sit near me, denying me affection readily given to dad.

Sometimes it's STILL hard for him to "catch" these behaviors, they are THAT subtle.  Yes, they are.  And there's major "sucking up" to dad to manipulate and triangulate.  We can NOT allow that.  So any "party" alert means just that--- someone is acting out even if the person they are doing it to doesn't realize it. 

It takes a TON of effort. Patience. Grace. Unconditional love. It takes mom being mentally "beaten up" and support (I have GREAT supportive friends and places to vent/ share with families struggling with this as well) as well as taking a ton of crap not just from my children at times but also from well meaning people who only see our charming and lovely children.

They have no clue the behaviors or even reasoning behind the issues. And that's fine. I don't worry too much about that because my children are much more than just some behavioral issues. They are great kids. They are worth keeping on with them.

Our faith in God has been HUGE to help us. Guide us. Strengthen us when the battle makes us weary. He gave us these kiddos and He makes NO mistakes. We trust in Him to be with us, to help us and to show us the way to best help every one of our kids that will benefit them and guide them on to be emotionally healthy adults.

And around here, we try to avoid "Party time"--- we joke about being at the "party" too long, being tired of the "party." We tell each other "Welcome to the party."  We make a joke when it's a total bummer to see a behavior again and again and well.... AGAIN.  Because it helps us to not take stuff too seriously and be swept up in the behaviors therefore not enjoying the GOOD of this family. And there's TONS OF GOOD.  Lots and lots of it.

I know that others are living with their own "party" with their kiddos. I wish it weren't true but I know it is true.  Hopefully most of you can say you've never been invited to the "party" we are at.

But if you are part of your own private party I am here to tell you that you are not alone and to try to help with how we have coped.  How we continue on and how worth it our precious treasures are.  And for our kiddos, well, they get our love if they want it or not.

Nothing they do, and I mean NOTHING will cause us to stop loving them and doing all we can to help them heal.  Love, love, LOVE all of them:))


Mom x 2 said...

Hi Vickie,
Just came across your post from today, I have always wondered if our nearly 14yr old suffers from RAD,( she was 2-1/2 at adoption ) I have read your post and I can identify with so many things that have driven us crazy with our daughter. I would love to contact you somehow but the email link does not work on your blog. Another Pennsylvania Mom

Vickie said...

Momx2, e mail me at