If you’re part of an adoptive family (or know one), I highly recommend checking out https://www.reddit.com/r/Adoption. The community has almost 4500 members (birth parents, adoptive parents and adopted children are all welcomed).
This is a recent interaction I had with one of the members. If you have experience with RAD, please chime in!
How long did it take to bond with your child before she started to really see you as parents? What are your current struggles?
I’ll be honest; if we had to do it all over again, I would ONLY do it if we were guaranteed to end up where we are today with these two kids. We went through hell on earth the first two years, and year three wasn’t much better. If/when we do it again, we will probably open our home to teenagers at risk of aging out of the system who truly want a family. That will likely happen after these two are grown, but we’ll see.
The last two years, we’ve seen steady progress in both kids; our son has PTSD, high levels of anxiety and may be on the autism spectrum (think Asperger’s, even though that’s not technically a diagnosis anymore). Our daughter has RAD and has been a tough nut but we’re seeing a few cracks.
We’ve had them almost 5 years; our three-year adoption anniversary is this month. We saw glimmers of hope throughout the last year; I’d say she’s 80% “with us” at this point. Prior to that, she was very angry at their bio mom (they’re siblings) and took a lot of that out on me.
If you and your wife are each other’s best friend and can work together as a united front, it’s possible you can beat RAD. It’s difficult to separate RAD from the child; you have to remember that the real enemy is the illness. If you can rescue a child from RAD, it’s a beautiful thing. We’re starting to see it.
On the other hand, RAD is tough; getting a diagnosis can be very difficult (we went through several counselors who had no RAD experience and accepted her “angel” act). Her goal (stated verbally) was for everyone to see her as “sweet.” We finally found a play therapist and an in-home counselor who both recognized the situation and gave us great support. Good counselors are necessary and a support system is key, as well.
She actually called us Mama and Daddy within a very short time, which we thought was a good thing. Looking back, we realize she made superficial attachments very quickly, but real attachment didn’t come for years. A few weeks after arrival, she shouted at me, “You don’t know me, and you WON’T know me, because I won’t LET you know me!” She spent a long time keeping that promise.
We still have some struggles with her inability to allow me to be close to her (she does better with Hubby), but I think our greatest struggle is preventing her from hurting herself or doing anything possible for attention. She will tank her grades, trip and fall, make her whole class wait for her, wear dirty clothes, create a rats nest of her hair, walk into furniture…there’s a whole list. I have serious concerns about her teen years, when she realizes other ways to get attention.
Every single day is a challenge. Sometimes I envy parents who have “easy” kids, but then again, they don’t get to have days like today. They don’t get the honor and joy of the amazing summit experiences. Someone said nothing worth having is easy…and I believe it. I would go through the last five years again just for the last 48 hours.
(I wrote this one today, if you’re interested. https://hypervigilant.org/2016/05/08/happiest-mothers-day/ ) You can also find stories about our family in other posts. I started the blog specifically for other families starting the process, because we had very few resources. I wanted to make the blog a place for individuals to find hope and know they’re not alone.
You’re not alone. You can save a life (or maybe more than one). It will NOT be easy. But it will be worth it.
Join the conversation on Reddit!