Monday, February 29, 2016


I've started a post twice now only to not finish.  Sigh....

I just couldn't write about fluff. COULD NOT.

This post will most likely end up "deep" because it's been mulling around in my brain for more than a week and it usually gets deep when that happens.

Firstly I have to say this... we are doing really well right now. We are.  It's feeling good and we are enjoying the blessing of the smoother days we have been experiencing.

It's a welcome relief.  And we are so thankful to God for giving us these blessings. We need them :)

You see, we are working very, very hard to have a "normal" life for all our kiddos, a life not taken over by attachment issues of certain children, as there have been too many days we are coping with some/ many Reactive Attachment Disorder behaviors. And trying NOT to let the behaviors swallow us up in a pit of despair and ruin our family life.

DEEP, I'm telling you. Seriously. Like the snow we got a few weeks ago. 24 inches!!!

And as unfair as it is that some of them don't have RAD and I don't post who does and who doesn't, because our kids who struggle do not deserve to be singled out, it also was bugging me that we do have children who DON'T have RAD and they "could" be thought to have it from my posts.

Then I realized.... WE ARE ALL LIVING WITH RAD. No duh, huh? Yes-- we, indeed, are a family with RAD.  Like it or not (some days I do not and I can say that) we live with this. It affects us all, typical adjusted kids, mom, dad, older siblings, ALL OF US live with RAD.
And instead of trying to live WITHOUT the RAD, we have/continue to learn to cope with living WITH the RAD.  Because we aren't loving it out of them. They progress painnnnfulllllly slowwwwww.

Their behaviors are maddening and designed to do as much damage to the family structure as possible, because that's what RAD is. An attack on the family structure to keep them feeling safer ( in their minds) if they aren't loved.

And given the chance, it can and will overtake EVERYTHING. It's so UGLY. RAD.  UGLY.  But our children are NOT.

They can't help what happened to them to cause them to lose their main "mother" figure when young which rewired their very brains to believe they can not trust ANY mother to love them. 

Therefore they do all they can to REJECT my love for them. It literally freaks them out.  They are sure (in their rewired brains) they will be abandoned by ME if they allow me to love them.

So they do as much as they can to REJECT.

I'm not sure about all of you, but I don't handle rejection well.  I tend to take it quite personally...... of course I do. Wouldn't you?

Here I am, mom of many and just wanting to love on some kids who need a family....... fast forward to 6 adoptions later and more RAD behaviors than I care to tell you about having been thrown my way.  It was uncharted waters for us. Many times we have felt like we were drowning.

BUT.... as I slowly crawled my way out of the pit of RAD despair our family was experiencing I have come to see a few things that seriously need to be said.

 First off and the most important thing is--


Everyone NEEDS to be loved. Even if it feels icky to them.  THEY NEED IT.

Sometimes that love does not equate out to hugging, kissing, caring in ways we mothers tend to think of cuddly, warm love. Especially with a TEEN.  This is when you re evaluate what defines LOVE.  Feeding them, washing their clothes, or teaching them how to wash their clothes, picking up their favorite snack, housing them beyond 18, teaching them to drive, teaching them to cook.

Love CAN look different and still be OKAY. 

Our trust building/ healing for them is caring for them each and every day... day in, day out, even with the worst of the worst crap behaviors being aimed to hurt us as much as possible:(   I'd love to say we have done this with grace and patience and unending tolerance but then I'd be dishonest and I don't go there.  I'm not going to tell you it's anything but HARD to love a kid whose behaviors make it hard to LIKE's HARD.

There's days it's been all we can do to tolerate, do damage control from the behaviors and crawl in bed exhausted and pray for strength for the next day of battle, yes, BATTLE. The fight for our kids to overcome because they deserve to learn to be loved. 

 I've been blessed by God in so many ways and a huge way was to have "self care" pushed to the front of my life. Why? Firstly, when not taking good care of me drains the "Mommy well " DRY. And I can't afford to have a dry well. Nope.

So in getting healthy I gained energy and a great way to relieve stress, get emotional strength from work outs. Because the biggest hurdle to living with RAD is for mom to NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY.

This one is REALLY, really super hard for me. Because none of the "normal" parenting we know well WORKS with RAD. Nope.  So the more I show them I care, often times this bring up the abandonment fear, and the worse the behaviors get toward me.

And since many people do not live with RAD and I realize it's really hard to "get it"-- I'll try to give you some examples.  RAD kid lies to me.  Or won't answer ME. Then when hubby asks, they tell the truth/answer...... simple right?  They just didn't want to answer me?

Uh, no. It's a whole level of manipulation/ disrespect of me (the mom figure).

Then hubby (who is great by the way, but it did take some time for us BOTH to understand these RAD behaviors and what was going on) has to back me on "NO disrespect of mom" even when child acts perfectly normal with HIM. 

Because that's what they do. They try to make it all "Mom's fault" for whatever........ so that they can treat mom poorly and try to keep mom from loving them and even malign DAD against mom, if possible. ( "maybe mom didn't ask clearly, maybe the child was afraid of getting in trouble so they lied").

This is a very small example of the CONSTANT battle with a RAD child (and we have more than 1) that goes on in their brains which is telling them it's "unsafe" to be loved.  And our battle is to show them it is SAFE TO BE LOVED.

Please understand-- if you are dealing with a RAD child, something HUGE for me was--- they would do this to ANY mother figure they got. This is SOOOOO not about ME, my mothering, my faults, my strengths, my way of mothering, etc.

This is RAD. And when I take that HUGE factor in to account it makes it so much easier to understand that it's not personal.  We didn't get the "wrong kids."  Still no regrets here, because God chose these children for us. 

Doesn't mean I haven't had to cope with some anger, for sure I have. Anger at God. Yep, I wrote it. ANGER.  Why they had to have RAD in the first place. WHY we got ones with RAD. Why it has to be so hard. WHY it can't be loved out of them........

But, not allowing that anger to overcome the family any more than the RAD can be allowed to is crucial.  It's acknowledged, owned and let go. 

Because there's no difference in our rejection of HIM, His gifts, His desires for us that we place in our lives......He "gets" this. He gets this too well :(  And He has never once left us alone in this battle for our kids.

It's not "too much" for us to live through. It's not overtaking us.

Stretching us? YES.

Bringing us to Him more for strength? YES

Teaching us? YES

Worth it? YES!!!!

ALWAYS, they are worth it.  For sure! 

 And we are up for this---- that's me Fat Biking- (called that for the large tire size)

Finding balance.  Living life. Loving our family. Trusting in God.

Life is a huge challenge..... grab it and live it :)



rachel garber said...

Thank you for always keeping it real but showing us it is worth it to adopt older kiddos. And as a side note: you look awesome! I seriously need to take a page out of your book and lose weight.

K said...

I so need to get to the place you are right now. My RAD kid has been holding my family hostage long enough and the professionals don't have any practical advice other than to "lock down my house," so she won't keep stealing/destroying everything.

Lisa said...

I have been where you are and I know, in hindsight, that everything you say is absolutely true about self care. I was not good at that and I paid for it (health-wise mainly) in so many ways. I was also not good at not taking it personally, especially when my kids took RAD on tour and seemed utterly determined to show the world how unfit and inadequate I was as a Mom. I lost alot of people in my life. We lost our church. I thought I would just die of humiliation and rejection. I came out of this changed (some good ways, some not so good). Although we still don't have a church, my faith in HIM has increased 1000-fold. I understand it's not about me. My RAD affected kids still have RAD. I see attempts towards normalcy, but they backslide and cut our family out of their lives (and in my daughters case, her childrens lives) as soon as things get uncomfortable in any way. It's still heartbreaking, but I've learned to expect it and not take it personally from her any longer. I try very hard not to feel "robbed" of experiences with my grand babies. Sometimes when I'm in a store and see cute little Christmas pj's or toys that I would LOVE to buy them, the resentment and grief tries to wiggle back in. Sometimes when I see a mom, daughter and grandchild shopping together or at the park together I feel overwhelmed with grief that I can't have that same experience with my daughter. I have more than one RAD child as well. Some days felt like a constant attack and most days made me feel like a hostage in my own home/life. We had to "lock down" everything too and it's demoralizing to have to carry a key ring with a dozen keys on it everywhere I went. I don't miss that at all.

Everyone wants to make the case that the people you lose during this journey weren't real friends to begin with or you're better off without them, but it still hurts tremendously. You want to believe that people mean well and have good intentions - but are just misguided and manipulated by the RAD behaviors. That is probably true to a degree, but I kept being consumed by thoughts like, "what have I ever done that makes this person believe I am a bad mom?" "what can I do to convince them I'm not?". It was a never-ending conflict within me to try to ignore what people were saying or thought to just put my energies into my kids/family. Now I find that I have no patience for people who complain about a messy kid or a forgetful kid or a kid with mediocre grades....I always think things could be so much worse, don't sweat the small stuff. Having a child who is bonded to you is such a blessing that we take for granted (because we did all the right things and they bonded to us) and we don't understand that until all of our efforts to bond to a RAD child are rejected. That said, I did survive those very stressful years, and it does get easier to disengage once they leave. I've learned that I CAN love them from afar and still help as much as they let me. I still have great love for them and want to see them succeed, that will not change.

Cayle said...

First you look absolutely amazing !

Second, I started reading your blog way before I had kids of my own. I now have a 1 year old and a 6 year old. My 6 year old is a beautiful little girl who was brought to me in a very difficult situation. She has struggled so much through the years and I have learned to know RAD all to well. It breaks my heart daily but it has taught me to find love in the most difficult moments. <3

Sherri said...

Catching up on your blog. I'm glad you are able to be honest and share. And it's so good to see your knowledge on RAD and how God is still teaching you. There seems to be SO much lack of understanding about's refreshing to read your post and see your insight. I know you don't have much extra time but here is a link to a blog you might enjoy. Jody is my friend and has dealt with RAD in a big way and helped many moms. Her children are younger than yours but you still might relate in some way. Sending hugs to're a good mama...hanging in for the long haul and loving your children through the hard places.

The Irons Family said...

Thank you. It's been RAD rough around our house lately.