When Is It too Late to Get Help for a Child with RAD?

When I was younger, I always wondered why adoption had an “Are you sure you want to do this?” question attached to it. When high school kids were in trouble, why would someone assume they were adopted?

A remark that has always stuck with me was made by reporters who were reporting on the Columbine High School shooting some 20+ years ago. They were discussing the two shooters’ backgrounds and made, what I considered the dumbest statement ever, “Neither shooter was adopted!”

Learning what I know now, it’s definitely not unheard of that an adopted child could conceivably shoot up a school ground. No one really knows to what extent Reactive Attachment Disorder can lead to dangerous behaviors.

At what age do you throw in the towel when parenting a child with RAD? I’m talking about the child’s age. Do you do it when the child first shows signs of RAD behaviors? Do you do it when the child has been disrupting the household for several years? Or, do you suffer and wait until the child is 17 or 18?

I always think that the saddest thing I hear is that a family of a child with RAD sends them to a boarding school or a residential treatment facility until they’re 18 and never let them come back home. Parents need to reconsider their biases.  Every person, even a child with RAD, needs to feel valued.

I’ve heard parents who place their child into an RTF or boarding school say they wouldn’t wish their experiences with their child onto another person. I know their thoughts, “If we tried to be loving parents and were so badly treated, we would never subject another family to our child’s behaviors.”

I can hear it now, there’s no place in a “normal” household for these damaged children. I really don’t believe that statement.  I’m an optimist. I have checked out the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoptions and they placed thousands of older foster children in new homes for years. These kids were long-term foster kids because of their behaviors. I believe if people are willing to take on a worthwhile mentorship of these kids with RAD, the kids will succeed.

These lost kids make up a minority, but do cause a lot of illegal behaviors in order to survive.  I wonder how many adults with RAD are prison residents? I speak from the position of being a parent of a child with RAD who’s been in prison for the last 20 years.

Can children with RAD change? As a matter of fact, most can actually become successful in a different environment. The fact that children with RAD have been damaged before they were old enough to fight back, get adopted and that first stable home feels threatening to the child.

Children with RAD need different types of parenting. The good news is that once they find a secure relationship, they really can change and have an exciting life.

Check out these pages:

RAD Teen Adoptions (FB)

Second Chance Adoptions (FB),

My Adoption Life (website and blog)

Thanks for reading.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW


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