Hello, my name is Jody. I am an adoptive parent and a foster parent. I want to tell you about my experience raising, loving, and healing a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).
My son Dave came into our lives when he was twelve. He'd been in 18 different foster homes and in pre-adoptive homes before he came into our family. He said that he found it easier to just call everyone mom and dad so that he didn't need to learn their names.
About a year later things still seemed a bit off with Dave. He was semi-compliant but didn't seem to really care about anything and acted as if he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. When I asked him to do the simplest chore, he would turn it into a war, or do it the wrong way on purpose. It got to be crazy in my home and I didn't like this kid anymore. I wanted him out! He would push my buttons on everything and even tried to hurt my eleven year old son to see if he could get a rise out of me. Believe me, I was loosing my mind. I became an ANGRY person and all my child-raising experience went out the window. Who as this person I saw in the mirror every day???
We went through FIVE therapists and fired them all!! Finally, I went to a workshop and heard Dr. Becker-Weidman speak. I felt like he was living in my house, that he was a fly on the wall, and telling everyone what was going on in my house! To say the least, I set up an appointment.
After a few testing and evaluation sessions, he diagnosed Dave as having Reactive Attachment Disorder. Finally...an answer, but now what?!? Our first three months of therapy were hard for me. This is TOTALLY different from any of the "conventional methods." Dr. Art told me to stay out of Dave's school business and let the school handle that stuff. (This was absurd to me!! My kid goes to private school, all the teachers know ho dedicated and involved we are with our kids, now this guy is asking me to butt out!?!) Well, after three months I finally did exactly what I was told. Dave would come home and try to engage me into a confrontation by telling me about the bad grades he got or the behavior issues he had a school. It took everything in me to NOT react. Boy, it felt good to just say, "How sad for you Dave, what are you going to do about it?" I thought the kid was gonna hit the floor! He looked at me like I had three heads. That's when I felt like I was getting my life back. Dave's therapy went quickly after that. He was released after nine months and, boy, what a difference.
Dave is almost 16 now. he guest speaks with me from time to time and is being a "average" hormonal pain in the butt teenager. He is sooo attached to me that there are times I feel like he is glued on to me!! But I wouldn't change it for a moment. He's come a long way and how has opened his heart to feel love and to enjoy what life has to offer. It saddens me to know that I had thought about disrupting this adoption three years ago.
My closing thoughts for you parents out there...no matter how experienced or not you are experienced with adoption, raising kids, child psychology, what-ever is that if you feel that your therapist isn't doing the job, look somewhere else. No matter what your case worker says. You are the parent and it is YOUR job to get answers and to get help. Network with other parents. Get educated and use the information. You are your child's parent for the rest of your lives.