Hope for Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder

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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.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. There is hope. Always.

  2. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this. You stopped by my blog the other day and left such a great comment. I had a few extra minutes today and wanted to say ‘thank you’. And I’m glad you posted what you did. I hate that others are going through this, but I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

    Strength in number, right? 🙂

  3. the yancey's says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Just found this post that describes the betrayal of your RAD daughter.

    We have not experienced exactly the same situation, but our stories are similar enough.

    We know the heartache of being falsely accused by RAD adoptees who have experienced more trauma before we ever met them than we can even dare to imagine in a lifetime…

    …And they have traumatized us out of their deep seated pain.

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    We continue to pray the Lord would heal us all!

  5. “take care of yourself. You can’t fill up your family from an empty vessel.”

    I like the way you phrased this, and I needed to hear this today. Thank you,


  6. I feel like we are kindred spirits walking the same path. I am sorry that you also had to endure false allegations similar to ours. So very painful. It’s nice to meet you …..hugs Sarah

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank youso much for your testimony. Have heard we can’t have a testimony without a test. Your story breaks my heart this morning because of a relationship with my own daughter. She has hurt so many of us over and over again, but I know that she is hurting the most. Can’t do anything about that except prayer, which is our strongest defense. Our daughter A has 5 children of her own who each live with their prespective fathers and not with her at this point since the court has taken them away. Will not go into a long story, but just know, that you have touched by heart this morning with the grace of our God. Thank you for encouragement. I am not blog smart so hope this gets to you. Found you on NAPS. God bless you and yours, CherryBerry

  8. Dear Marty,

    Thanks for your openness about your journey. You have encouraged and will encourage many.

    I cannot relate to your journey, but I can and will pray for you and your family.

    Blessings, Susan

  9. [email protected] Pretty says:

    All I can say, is Wow, what you and yours have been through!!! We tried to adopt years ago, had a 7 1/2 year old girl placed with us, but after 1 month and 1/2, she decides she doesn’t want to be adopted.

    Her foster parents were good. Not sure what became of her since. All I know is, her social worker really screwed us and several other families around. This girl was very good at “playing the game”. We were not. All this girl wanted was her birth mother, poor thing. We had been given more than we could have possibly handed, all because of a bad social worker. Needless to say, I don’t have much use for social workers now, lol!

    Your adopted are so very blessed to have been placed in your home. God has been very good to them!!!

  10. Wow! I saw your post about your daughter’s Locks of Love donation and found myself here. I know of another RAD child who was adopted from Russia and was horribly abused and terrorized in her Russian orphanage. It took several years of her being institutionalized before she began to recover. And her brave parents never tried to give her up, they were committed to helping her heal, like you. It makes me so happy that you are committed to your children this way. So many parents cannot or will not.

    • Thank you so much, Christine, for visiting my blog. The process of adoption and healing wounded children is not one to be taken lightly. It is more work and more sacrifice than we could have imagined and sometimes all the commitment in the world won’t make your child better. It’s just being willing to do the hard things to get your child help. I hope you will find encouragement in my blog and I’m glad you got to visit.

  11. I just want to say thank you for pouring into your kids. Thank you for loving all of them and sacrificing for them in such a Godly way. I pray that He will sustain, encourage and bless you all.

    • Debbie, thank you so much for commenting on my adoption post. Most of my readers now are DIY’ers, but our adoption story is never far from my heart. I am planning on starting a second blog where I have all my faith and adoption posts in one place as an encouragement to other adoptive and foster moms. Thank you for encouraging ME tonight.

  12. Thanks so much for this! My husband and I are prayerfully considering if foster to adopt is something that God is calling us to do. You hear many of the “warm fuzzy” stories about it, once you start looking into it, but we know what a challenge this might be and want to walk into it with our eyes wide open. Hearing about the struggles and the rewards in a very real way is so needed! Thank you for sharing your story–and if you do start a blog dedicated to this please let me know!

    Also yes, thank you so much for answering God’s call and serving Him in real, ugly, hard ways–the ways He calls all of us to if we truly want to live for Him! <3

  13. Christa G says:

    I am putting together a daily parenting book of encouragment for parents of children with RAD and would love to pick your brain on a couple things. Please feel free to contact me. I wasn’t sure how else to get a hold of you.

  14. Thanks for the encouragement! It’s always good to know we aren’t the only ones and it will get better!

    • I’m glad I could encourage you! Homeschooling kids with RAD is definitely difficult and exhausting. If you read more recent posts of mine you’ll see we are still struggling with our 16 year old son. I hope you continue with the fight because our kids are worth it!

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