Adoptive Parents and Reactive Attachment Disorder

A major problem with the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is the painful truth that many of the very individuals we moms and dads turn to for help - professionals in the mental health, neurological, and medical fields - often lack the knowledge and expertise to treat our kids.

One of the first doctors I took my youngster to told me that my youngster would end up institutionalized and that if a PET scan were done on his brain, it would look like Swiss cheese - black holes of non activity where there should be brain activity. That there is nothing much I could do for him as "...these Romanian kids were hopeless cases..." My youngster was 7 years old when I was told this by a prominent neurologist.

I didn't believe in giving up. This youngster was my responsibility and I would work hard to figure out how to help him. How I would have loved it if there were professionals willing and able to treat my youngster - who believed in positive change in his life. I called and talked to over 140 mental health professionals on our insurance - this was a 4 state span - and either I was told that they did not know much or anything about this disorder or they had heard of it but didn't know how to treat it.

This site is my attempt to pass on my knowledge from reading and learning everything I could find on this issue so that I could help our youngster - which we were able to do with the help of a wonderful therapist that we eventually found. My youngster is 14 now and is not institutionalized but lives a happy life here at home.

So, as you read, keep in mind that the information that I have written on these pages is purely what I have learned and clearly anecdotal at best.

To those of you who are moms and dads of these most special kids, I say there is hope. My youngster was diagnosed with severe attachment disorder with some of the most violent and frightening symptoms and he made it. He loves, trust and is healing every day!

To those of you who are professionals working with these troubled families trying to find ways to help them, I say thank you.

To those of you who have not joined in to find a way to help us, I say start learning, pitch in, and help.

To those of you who point fingers at the very individuals who are trying to figure out ways to help us, I say evaluate your own issues that are driving you to the extremes you have gone to put all those who work with and love these kids under the same umbrella. I do not believe you act in the best interest of my youngster or the other thousands of kids in our foster care and adoption communities. Please re-examine your motives and start helping these families.

To our nation - these kids are not just those from Romania or other countries -- they are kids here at home. Ultimately, all adults have a responsibility towards all kids no matter where they are from. It is time to embrace and seek the truth about those early years of life and how they shape who we eventually become.

With the addition of hundreds of kids adopted from institutional settings and from the foster care system, it is important for all of us to become educated regarding the potential and unique problems these kids and their families face. It is by this understanding that we can forge ahead and learn to help our families heal.

Attachment Disorders range in severity. I believe that attachment is on a continuum that runs from securely attached through degrees of attachment issues all the way to those who suffer from severe attachment disorder as in my youngster's case.

We must also remember that all adopted and foster care kids do not suffer from attachment disorder. A lot has to do with the individuals themselves - their physiological and psychological make-up, the type of environment they were in and the duration they were in that environment and a myriad of other variables. With this in mind, we do not want individuals to become wary of adoption because of attachment disorder. We want individuals to become educated about it. I often wish I had known what was wrong sooner as I look back on years that were spent utilizing ineffective therapies and parenting strategies. We would have started on the road to healing sooner.

Adoptees are not the only individuals that can suffer from attachment issues. Grown-ups who did not get their emotional and physical needs met in the first few years as well as families who have biological kids who, for whatever reason, did not have a strong connection with their primary caregiver. Some of the causes of attachment problems are very subtle and often go unrecognized.

Parenting Defiant RAD Teens