Everyone has a dream. My dream is to someday write a book … hoping that its depth will awaken in you an understanding of a broken bond. Perhaps, just for a moment, you will take off the lens you are looking through and see – with your whole self – that what you are judging is not at all what it seems.
Many do not know our story. It is one filled with both blessings and curses. The emotions are still as fresh as the day two beautiful young children entered my life. Yes, I have two adopted children. They were born biologically to my youngest brother and his wife.
Caleb was two years old and his sister, Kaetlyn, a mere nine months old when my family welcomed them into ours. We never had fathomed, even for a single second, that they were to become ‘ours’.
My brother struggled with substance abuse and ended up incarcerated for a short period of time. The children’s biological mother also struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and has spent the last nine years in and out of jail.
RAD kids have learned that the world is unsafe, and that the adults around them can’t be trusted to meet their needs. They have developed a protective shell around their emotions, isolating themselves from dependency on adult caregivers. Rather than depending on their parents or other adults to protect them, the protective shell becomes the child’s only means of coping with the world.
Dependent only upon themselves for protection, they come to see anyone who is trying to remove this protective barrier as a threat, not to their emotional well being, but to their very lives. They turn on those who seek to help them the most.
People require attachments with others in order to develop psychologically and emotionally. Attachment is the bond that normally develops between a mother and her child during the first few years of a child’s life. The quality of this bond affects the relationships that a person will have for the rest of his life.
Attachment develops in the early years of life when a mother responds to her baby’s cries by meeting its needs, appropriately feeding, consoling, soothing, and comforting, as well as keeping the infant safe from abuse and harm.
Fundamental to RAD kids is that they haven’t bonded and are unable to trust. They have learned that the adults in their lives are untrustworthy. Trust hasn’t worked for them. Without trust, there cannot be love, and without love they are emotionally underdeveloped. Instead of love, rage has developed within them.
In the first few years of life, at a time even before they have learned to speak, they have learned that the world is a scary place, and that they cannot rely on anyone else to get them through it.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.
Yes, I cry myself to sleep every night. As a mother, it is difficult knowing that I can not make my little boy ‘all better’. I will pray that the Lord guides me as I continue this journey.