If you walk in the snow barefoot, what is your immediate reaction? Brr – get shoes! When your child walks in the snow barefoot, without putting together the thought of “cold means I need to go put shoes on,” then something is off. For anyone who has ever adopted a child, they know it is not as easy as it sounds. They’ll hear other couples preparing to adopt and think, “they really don’t know what they’re getting in for.”
Adoption is not easy. It is a difficult process, and the love between you and your child is hard earned. Many couples who adopt find it emotionally and physically exhausting. It can test their limits in a way that they never understood. A real issue that comes with adoption is RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). RAD is a diagnosis from abuse or neglect in a child’s early life. It is not hereditary or contagious. In short, the reactions of a person with RAD to certain circumstances, whether social or environmental, are detached from reality.
Refusing help from caretakers is one of the most common signs; around parents, teachers, or caretakers they feel unsafe, and the only sense of reality is received through controlling everything they can. This can also show in extreme circumstances, such as not feeling love the way it should come naturally, and being able to detach from love easily. This is something most people cannot fathom to understand. All of this comes from a certain amount of neglect and ignorance to the child during the most formative years.
It is incredible how the first few months of a child’s life are so important, and why it is so crucial to receive touch and physical affection. If that is lacking in the early stages of development, then later in life there could be major social and attachment issues. For children with RAD, they can learn to present themselves well; understanding social situations just enough to fit in. This doesn’t mean they cannot learn, just that it will be a lot harder to learn and it is often difficult for others to understand how it does not come as easy. Children with RAD can hurt solid families, they lack guilt when lying, and truly believe their caretakers are out to hurt instead of help them.
Feeling “mean” or “overbearing” to a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder is common, because authority needs to be tighter with a child with RAD than with other children. Being consistent is key. Do not waver statements such as “you must clean your room before going outside.” When one parent wavers, the learning is lost. A caretaker or parent can feel depressed, used, or hopeless, and that is normal.
At Trinity Teen Solutions, we teach children with RAD that consequences are natural. If you break something, you fix it. If you hurt someone, you learn how to apologize. Consistency provides learning, and it establishes securing with children who have RAD.