Wednesday, June 29, 2011


When my son came to live with us he had many, many diagnosis. Reactive Attachment Disorder was one that floated in and out depending on the mood of the therapist (who was a joke!). I always knew there were some attachment issues. I have no idea if he would technically be considered RAD right now, but I have no doubt that what I am dealing with is attachment related. Here are his best tricks:

He has no issue hurting others. Sometimes, for the most part, it is simply a case of impulse control and poor understanding of cause and effect. I like to tell myself this. I can see the delight he gets from hurting things on his face sometimes. I am not sure if this is increasing in frequency or I am just better at seeing it. He typically saves the really mean, dangerous stuff for the animals, but I can see slight things aimed at the littles now. He has really no remorse. If he shows concern it is because he got caught, not because he is sad her hurt someone else. He has killed baby chickens and pet fish. We think he caused the death of two cockatiels and he recently tried to kill our dogs and attempts to hurt them (and the cat) DAILY. It is a miracle he has not been bitten.

Love and Hate. I think he does love us. But I think that to him love is fluid. I think he loves and not loves us numerous times a day. It is not an all consuming, unconditional love. He loves us when he wants something, and hates us when he doesn't get his way. He is constantly saying, "You hate me. I should've said no when they asked if I wanted you to adopt me." or he asks to go live in jail or the hospital because we are not nice. He has no issue separating from us and thinks everyone he meets is his new best friend adult and child alike.

Desire to please. I think this is similar to love for him. He desires to please us when he thinks he will receive something for his efforts. He could care less about pleasing when he is not receiving a reward in his mind. He is unable to make himself do something he knows is right when he is in a particular foul mood. Sometimes he is physically unable to even agree with something as basic as "Can you see me?" when he wants to be defiant.

Inability to make a decision. He is completely unable to make a decision sometimes. He will ask for a certain food and once he is given it he will no longer want it. If you go to take it away he will holler that he is starving and he wants the food. Immediately after it is put in front of him he will say, "I said I didn't want that stupid food." We could do this for hours. It is though he wants to argue and push other's buttons. I understand he feels these conflicts internally, but it is difficult to deal with it. If it frustrates me, he wins.

If he thinks no one is looking he is absolutely unable to do the right thing. He cannot and will not control any behavior he knows is wrong if he thinks someone cannot see him. His difficulties with object permanence do not allow him to understand that others have ears and can hear you calling the dog 2 feet from them even if they are not staring you in the face. This boggles my mind. I can be sitting directly next to him and if I am reading something he thinks I cannot see him hitting the cat ON MY LAP. Swear to goodness. This is also when he is destructive. He likes to pick apart my plaster walls, unravel blankets or tear anything up he can.

I am not certain if you would consider his sexual acting out as being a part of RAD, but I do somewhat and I think bears mentioning. Someone said to me recently, " Once a kid is sexualized you cannot put that genie back in the bottle." So very true. He acts of for a couple different reasons in my opinion. I think he acts out due to his impulse controls issues due to his Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I also think he acts out because he has a low IQ and if he wans to do something he does it regardless of where he is or what he is doing. I think it also has to do with the attachment issues because he feels no connection to people and he has no qualms about hurting others.

Superficially charming. My child is the sweetest, most kid, helpful boy ou would ever meet. Unless of course you are his parent. He saves all his best tricks for us. He loves to help people and will charm the socks off others. This is definite RAD behavior. Why should he punish them? They are not the people caring for him. They are not the ones who took the place of his mother who neglected and abused him. They are not the people who could be just as hurtful as her if he let them. Get it? Not fun.

Lying. Lord have mercy the child would have a cat in his hands and say "I did not touch the cat!" and he will swear you are going to believe him. He gets angry when you tell him that you are not asking a question because you know the answer. He will deny til the day is over.

Clingy? He is on me the minute I walk in the door from work. He must ask me for a hug 3,846 times a day. I used to feel bad about rationing them but many therapists made me understand that it is not healthy to be that clingy and inappropriate. I do not deny him, I just tell him I am busy and I will get to him in a minute, or I say, "Am I doing something right now?" He usually accepts that well. . . then asks 45 seconds later. It is tiring and I feel badly for not hugging him every time he asks. The problem is I would never get anything done. Most of the time I ignore it like I didn't hear him.

Entitlement. This is a HUGE one for us. He thinks he is entitled to whatever he wants. He should have the same everything as both other kids. If one has a popsicle and one has an ice cream cone he should get BOTH. He is constantly concerned about what everyone else has and what they are doing. If a child at school is in soccer he HAS to be in soccer, no matter that he cannot kick a ball to save his life and has no concept for the game. He will argue and be defiant about it all day long. We always end up being the bad guy because we won't let him do ANYTHING!

I understand how those seeing this type of listing and then seeing a child like ours would think that we are bad parents. I understand how a child like this could present totally different for other. I get that people would think that I am horrible for not hugging my child or saying that the hugs he gives give me the heebie-jeebies. It sounds awful to me. The problem is that you cannot fully comprehend that trauma that RAD causes to the WHOLE family until you live it.

We don't hate our kids, we hate the RAD.
We don't wish our kids gone, we wish the RAD gone.
We don't get sick to our stomach looking at our children, we wanna puke on RAD.

The problem comes when we are unable to separate the RAD from the child. Sometimes to road to healing is long. Sometimes the road to healing takes detours we never thought we could endure. Sometimes the road brings us bumps and gives us bruises that show on the outside.

Had I not had the network of moms and blogs I have had the last few years I would be dead.

I am serious. Dead.

If I didn't have these women, I would've felt like a failure as a parent and felt so desperately alone that I couldn't take it. The sense of failure you feel is one I would not wish on anyone. The RAD does win. It wins nightly as I put my head on the pillow and reminds me I have not made progress. It rears its ugly head in the morning when I don't want to wake my child for fear of what the day brings. It wins whether I let it win or not. It wins when it survives. It is survival.

It is HARD.



It is so very LONELY.

Sometimes the child treats each parent differently causing triangulation issues. A dad may see things the mother never gets. The mother may have victories that sends the dad's relationships tail spinning.

It is a rough road. A road no one else can understand unless you have lived it.

It make us parents feel like failures and creeps.

We are well aware that the things we say aren't normal. We get it.

The problem is, others don't. They see what they wish to see. They see what their experiences allow them to see.

I get it. I get the hurt and the confusion. I wish I was behind that veil too. I wish I didn't know what RAD was. I wish I didn't know what it could do to my family and my child.

I wish I never had to experience this, but above all, I wish my boy never had to experience this.

In a perfect world . . .


  1. There is no perfect world. DAMNIT!

  2. Excellent post and so true to this life.

  3. Sis..How sad.We each experience different types of loneliness,a disconnect from those who have never experienced what we do, but this one is one of the hardest I'm sure. I've read so many blogs dealing with these very issues and it never ceases to cause intense emotion.I HATE what has happened to these precious children.I HATE what it does to loving parents who struggle with these behaviours.

  4. I've just begun reading many RAD-related blogs, in an effort to understand that my family's experiences in raising my younger sister have not been totally unique to us... that we are not alone. It breaks my heart that ANYONE has to endure the constant chaos of RAD, but I am inspired by and thankful for all of you very strong women writing about your experiences. Know that there are others like you who love and appreciate you... even if we've never met. :)