Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Do you know what RAD means?  Reactive attachment disorder is a relatively new term.  I saw that term in reference to our child for the first time in an email.  She has been diagnosed with RAD.  I knew it, I live with it but seeing it in writing was hard.  On our "not willing to consider" list was severe attachment issues.  We knew that all kids in foster care have some level of attachment issues.  We suspected that Dimples was further along on the spectrum simply based on the number of placements.  However, seeing it in print was hard.

When I look at the following checklist I see many severe issues with our child.  Ahhh, quite a few in fact.

Neglect is a terrible thing.  It actually causes brain damage.  Yet many people don't think that neglect is too bad, that at least they aren't being beat.  Maybe the child isn't being beat, but the brain isn't growing either.  This causes lifelong problems for the child. 

The following is a little information about therapy for a child with RAD from RadKid.Org:

Normal parenting doesn’t work with RAD kids. Neither does traditional therapy, since these therapies are dependent upon the child’s ability to form relationships that require trust, something that is at the root of the problem. Sticker charts and behavioral programs don’t work because the RAD child doesn’t care what you think about his behavior. Natural consequences work better than lectures or charts. Structure is a necessity, but only when combined with nurturing.

While these kids can be healed, they have to want it, and the prognosis is not good. Without healing, these kids grow up unable to form healthy relationships with other human beings. Too often, these kids develop into sociopaths devoid of conscience or concern for anyone other themselves.

We haven't adopted Dimples yet.  We could say that we are not willing to deal with the long term therapy that she will need.  Our therapist has told us that she will need years of therapy.  We could tell them that we aren't prepared to deal with severe attachment issues. 

The other day I was almost at that point.  I had to talk myself down.  Dimples has learned to tantrum while I am away.  Even a short trip to the grocery store can lead to a tantrum.  The other day I ran to the store for a few groceries and received a call that she was tantrumming.  I cut my trip short and raced home.  I could hear her screaming from outside. 

Dimples was doing her top of the lungs screaming.  Her sister Michelle told her to stop ruining her life.  She knows what the impact of these tantrums have been before.  She tells me that she has to move all the time because of her sister.  That fear is always there for her.

Foster business....these girls are basic rate kids.  What does that mean?  They are basic care kids with basic problems, in SC that equals about $332/month.  While I agree with that for Michelle I do not believe that for Dimples.  We are still foster parents so we still have a lot of ability to receive services.  After adoption finding extra services becomes more difficult.  If you adopt a child at the basic care rate then the assumption is that you don't need a lot of extra services.  I called the girls social worker and told her that they need to increase Dimples level of care.  It isn't about the money but about the ability to receive care in the future.  It was her emails that were copied to me that mentioned the RAD diagnosis. 

What accommodations have we had to make for her?  I now own a monitoring camera and door alarms (we never lock the doors). We do not allow the girls to play upstairs.  After realizing that Dimples was encouraging the puppy to scratch at her we limit her contact with the puppy.  After so many unexplained bruises we limit her time outside (She is a wreck....bad haircut with scratches and bruises.)  Whenever possible, John and I try to limit our time out of the home together to after bedtime.  John is off the rest of this week and has taken off the week that I am going on my mission trip because she is a challenge for the teens.  I have lost a friend.  Our social circle has shrunk.

Why make those sacrifices? Our lives would be so much simpler if we didn't. I guess I don't go for simple, I go for fulfilling. How can you measure the life of a child against your own comforts?
I surely can't.


  1. Your post brought me to tears. You have an immense capacity to love and Dimples will be blessed because of it. She needs someone that will not give up on her.

    My youngest biological child has ADHD and ODD. There are days when I am pushed way beyond my natural limits, but I believe that God equips me to manage myself so that I can be the Mother that my son needs. YOU are that person for Dimples. God has given you a heart for this special little girl!

    I will be praying for you and your entire family, because I know Dimples behavior affects the entire household. I pray that God works in her little heart and softens it. I pray he whispers into her heart that she can trust you, so that the walls she has put up can slowly come down, brick by brick. I pray that people are able to maintain a compassionate heart towards Dimples and recognize that none of her fault. Poor girl has had to learn to protect her heart in this way and it will take awhile for her to learn a new way to cope.

    Most of all, my heart just goes out to you for all that you are dealing with. I could just feel the devastation in your heart about this RAD diagnosis. You have a tender heart and clearly, a willingness to fight for this little girl. I admire you SO much for that! Sending love and hugs all the way from Washington State. I will be praying for you all daily.

  2. oh, how I understand. I don't have an official diagnosis yet. The psych evaluations will be done in July on both the twins and I can almost guarantee that Missy will get the diagnosis, and James will have some sort of attachment issue tagged to his file. It's hard. It's hard when you run to the store for bread and the teens call to say that one or the other is screaming bloody murder. I know. That was us last week. It's hard when you lose friends - we have experienced that, too. It's sad when one of the other kids is crying that the RAD child is ruining the family.I know. But these kids are worth it. Prayers and hugs.

  3. My understanding is phantom...and I only know what I know because one of my close friends has a son with RAD. My heart breaks at this diagnosis. At the same time, I am glad for you. Maybe having the label will give you what you need to get the kind of help that Dimples needs. Praying for you today.