I have been so touched and saddened by the Reactive Attachment Disorder blogs I have read lately. The struggles and absolute heartache are quite evident. These are people full of faith in God and their children. And yet it hurts. And is harder than anything they’ve ever done before. I know this road. I’ve been there. I want to be an encourager tonight. To give you strength and courage for just one more day.
Some of our history is scattered throughout my postings but our basic history is we have two biological kids, now 20 and 16, and three adopted siblings, now 19, 11, and 10. Our oldest adopted daughter B came to us when she was 10 1/2. She had spent 7 1/2 years with her birth parents, years full of abuse and neglect. After 4 years with us and finally discovering a RAD therapist, she divulged that she had been se*ually abused. We spent four years lost and hopeless before that trying to get her help and find out what was wrong. As we discovered her abuse she started unveiling all the ways she had tried to hurt us. We knew nothing of RAD or any adoption issues when we got the kids. We were so ignorant and trusting and that cost us dearly. We would have protected all of our family and gotten B the help she needed immediately.
There was overwhelming heartbreak for all of us. I was the object of her anger and she acted out in passive aggressive ways until we started RAD therapy. And the truth came out. And I became afraid when our therapist said we needed help beyond her abilities. Many people would say we bailed on B. This godly therapist helped us cope because we had four more children at home to protect and to nurture.
We found a group home for se*ually abused kids and B “worked the program” but never came home to us. Eventually her new therapist convinced her that our morals and values were far too high and she could never live up to them. That put a wedge in our relationship that could not be repaired. A couple of years later she accused us of abusing her. Social services investigated us for five months and came to the conclusion that her allegations were unfounded. I don’t know what the real truth was in her life before us. I only know we couldn’t fill the hole in her heart.
We have spent the last 5 years since B left putting the pieces of our family back together. Her younger 2 siblings have RAD and they have acted out all their grief, anger and fear of being abandoned and thrown away. It has been years of therapy, intense supervision and absolute trust in God to sustain us.
But all of this is to say that there is still hope. M and S are not B and there is hope for them. Their parents’ drug addiction and abandonment have done a job on their brains, and we struggle every day with school and attachment issues. But things have gotten better. They have a chance at a good life if they will continue to work and allow love to do miracles.
Last night S apologized in tears to me again because she had so much anger towards me. Pitching fits, screaming, biting, all directed at me. But she worked through it. And now she knows that I will never leave her, no matter what. She still battles her thoughts and feelings of unworthiness, but there is hope. We have moments when our family time is good, not sabotaged by my RAD children. Times when they allow themselves to be happy and not scared. Genuine feelings of love without manipulation. Yes, there is hope.
I don’t have great advice on raising your special needs child. I will say to take care of yourself. You can’t fill up your family from an empty vessel. You have been given an amazing task, of raising damaged children to learn to love and trust again. God knows the depth of our abilities and strengths so much more than we do. When you’ve reached the end, that’s when God’s grace and power is most evident.
S asked me if I regretted adopting them. Not for a minute. Do I wish I had known nine years ago what I know now? Absolutely. Has my heart been broken for these children? Every day. Did I think things would ever get better? Not when I was in the middle of the worst moments of my life. But there is hope. And healing.