Options for Parents of Children with R.A.D.

Are you an adoptive parent of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder? Have you considered dissolving your child’s adoption? I can hear the protests now. “Why would anyone consider getting rid of their child?”  

As a former parent of a child with RAD, I know why parents do consider placing their child with another family. I lived with the off-the-wall behaviors. I saw what my daughter was doing to my whole family. It wasn’t pleasant.

Those parents of children with RAD know what I mean when I say these kids can tear families apart.  I got so I hated birthdays, any kind of family parties and especially Christmas.

My family always went all out for Christmas. We decorated to the hilt, but by the time my daughter moved out, I had reached the point where I just wanted Christmas out of my life. It has never really been the same for me.

Believe it or not, I enjoy decorating for Halloween over decorating for Christmas. There is just so much pain associated with how my daughter disrupted Christmas that I think it brings on PTSD when I see red, green and gold decorations.

Would I have placed my child with another family, if given the opportunity? I can’t say for sure, but the answer would probably have been “yes!” I’ve always felt she would have done better in a two-parent family.

No family should ever be condemned for placing their child with another family that is better prepared for their child’s issues. This is not a selfish act!!! The placing families want to give their children the best chance for success in life.

Over the years, I’ve heard stories of families whose former adopted children successfully turned their lives around to the point where anyone who knew them before, would not even recognize them. This really is for real.  

When a family finally reaches the end of their rope, as the story goes, then they make the life-changing decision to find a new home for their child. The older the children become, the more difficult it becomes to find a good placement for them.

The family’s options are finding an agency to work with them or a permanent boarding school or residential treatment program or a family member or a friend to take custody of the child. It’s always in everyone’s best interests to make sure all parties are protected.

There are many reasons why a family feels that it’s in the best interest of everyone in the family to dissolve an adoption. Children with RAD often lie, steal, manipulate physically attacks family members, runs away or otherwise cause havoc in the family.

When the child with RAD attacks other family members either physically or sexually, it’s time to make a tough decision. Does this mean the child is unadoptable by another family? No, a different family with a different set of rules and ideas, can and do adopt children with RAD very successfully.

I advocate for older children with RAD. They deserve a safe home to grow up in. Placing families need to understand that their choice of a family for their children needs to be re-evaluated according to their children’s personalities and needs.

Some of the most difficult things to remember is what some of the triggers that cause their children difficulties in their current home. Some of those triggers are:

  • Same age biological and adopted children
  • Adopted children with a trauma bond
  • Large families of both biological and adopted children
  • Biological children younger than adopted child
  • Jealousy of biological children by adopted child
  • The mother/caregiver figure
  • The current family’s rules

There are other triggers that can be specific to a child. The miraculous thing is that once the children move to another home, they do very well for the most part.  The older the children are the more difficult it is for some of them to learn to trust the new adults in their life. The rate of success in older secondary placements is between 75% and 85%. There’s always going to be children that nothing will work for them at any given time.

If you find yourselves wondering if your child could be helped with a new family, please email me at radteenadopting@wiaa.org.

Thanks for reading my post.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW    

Published by annla1441

Adoption Social Worker. Lived in Utah

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