Monday, July 09, 2012

Somethings nobody wants to talk about!

Reactive Attachment Disorder in adoptions of young children is one of those things.

I have been buried in books for the past several weeks. Desperation is driving me to educate myself still further in the realm of attachment and its disorders.

I love to study. I like understanding all the whys and hows of a subject. I just wish this were as simple and enjoyable as “the art of the perfect pastry shell” or “artisan/farmstead cheeses” or “heirloom garden vegetables”. Things with Happy Endings or Scientific Equations, that if followed carefully will always produce the desired result. Working with people isn't quite so easy, you have that issue of free will, choice, and personality and results aren't guaranteed.

The longer I read, the more I think this is actually a study of the brain.
Attachment and/or the lack thereof, accompanied by therapy and therapeutic parenting,
it's all related to the brain and brain development and early childhood trauma and its drastic effects.

I am learning, and committing myself to this thing called "therapeutic parenting". But just for the record, I will happily take normal standard parenting any do of the week, hands down and no questions asked.

I am discovering that most of what I am learning in the realm of therapeutic parenting is pretty good and (gasp) actually works and minimizes our huge blowups. I don’t have any clue what the long term results will be for Mr. RADish. I do know that it is changing me. If nothing else, it helps me stay sane and calm and all the other good stuff that therapeutic parents are supposed to be so good at. I am learning how to put the fun back into parenting in the middle of all the craziness that each day brings, I am learning how to out-crazy the crazy.

I have a *stack of books on my nightstand and ½ of them have a plethora of pencil markings and notes, the other half are waiting for more of the same.

But tonight I am NOT reading, I am too mad to sit quietly and read. Why on earth has it taken years………… to finally have this material in my hands. It really torques me that I wasn't able to implement this wealth of information years ago when I was searching for answers. He was so young then. I knew something was wrong and I didn't know what.

It's true, I got SOME help and SOME answers, and we made SOME definite progress. But, I can't help wondering if we would be at a different place now, if I had been able to understand all of this from the get go.

I have a whole shelf of adoption related materials that barely brushed or didn't touch these issues at all. I have scoured the internet, and bought armloads of books. So what changed? Well, things have gotten drastic and we finally had a diagnosis which pointed me in a definite direction.

Now that I am here, I honestly believe that every parent who EVER adopts should be pointed to attachment literature. Attachment is such a HUGE issue in EVERY adoption, no matter what age the age of the child, domestic or foreign, state or private. Not every situation will be like ours happens to be, but the information would be a tremendous asset regardless.

What I find the most frustrating is that I HAD made a definite point to talk with a lot of people who should have/could have pointed me in the right direction years ago when we first began our adoption journey. I asked tons of questions. I requested recommended reading lists. I asked for input and direction from those families and individuals that I knew who had walked this path before us. NONE of them gave me any valuable input on attachment or attachment issues.

I actually confronted two of them and asked why they hadn't shared their realities that were painful and offered helpful info with me when I sat in their living room some eight years ago as we started this journey. Or, even afterwards as we began to walk this path and knew we had some issues to work through. (and yes, these families had worked through/were in the middle of tough stuff, as I have since discovered)

They both said they were afraid it would scare us out of adoption. Really?

Instead of scaring us, you would rather have us go raving insane, with no clue what we are up against. Searching madly for answers to things that we couldn't even begin to understand? You thought it would be better for us to “learn the hard way” after we were already stuck and couldn't just opt out? Man, it makes my blood boil.

We have hit rock bottom so hard in so very many ways. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined us were we have been, and I still don’t know where it is all going to end. I am poignantly aware that our story will almost assuredly not look anything like I would like or dream.

I feel that I am making peace with this reality(at least today) and I am learning to be okay with it on a daily basis. It isn't at all the way I would have written my story but after all it isn't really my story, it’s HIS story. That doesn't make it any less painful, or any less crazy but it adds just a wee bit of perspective and that really, really helps.

Exactly what am I reading?

*My current stack of attachment books:

Adopting the Hurt Child – Hope for Families with Special Needs Kids– Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky
Parenting the Hurt Child – Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow – Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky
Nurturing Attachment- Kim Golding
Building the Bonds of Attachment – Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children – Daniel Hughes
The Connected Child – Karyn Purvis, David Cross, and Wendy Sunshine
Created to Connect – Karyn Purvis and Michael and Amy Monroe
Attaching in Adoption – Deborah Gray
When Love is Not Enough – Nancy Thomas
The book and the 8 set DVD series
Parenting with Love and Logic – Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Go ahead, read them, they are DEFINITELY worth your time, especially if your family is built through adoption, or foster care.


  1. Here's a virtual hug, Leann. You all are on my heart this week - and if we ever consider foster care or adoption, I know where I'll be turning.

    And let's change this awful habit of not talking about hard things in the vain hope they'll go away.

    Love and prayers,


  2. You may also find some of the trauma research helpful. Here's an article to get you started:

  3. Love the quote in your blog title!

    This book is also supposed to be fantastaic for trauma parenting:
    Denise Best's "Therapeutic Parenting for Traumatized Children (out of print but a new edition is coming out any day.)

    I enjoy this list from Deborah Gray (and not just for the first year!)

    Her second book is also really worthwhile! Nurturing Adoptions Creating Resilience After Neglect and Trauma

  4. How we feel your pain and understand too well. We have three adopted children and one of them suffers RAD greatly. For the other two the book Holding Time by Dr. Martha G. Whelch did wonders for us and it was a blessing sent by God through our social worker who did our first homestudy. I would have been lost without it. Also homeopathy has done wonders like one would not believe, if you have a good homoepath near you I would highly recommend it. We are blessed with one in the state of Washington who is also an MD and we have the best of both worlds with his preference always being a homeopathic or natural treatment :)


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