Happy or Sad – with Children Affected By RAD

What makes a parent of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) happy or sad? We all have different responses to our kids with RAD. Are they all bad? I don’t think so, even with the worst times, there have usually been good times as well.

My daughter was really passive-aggressive when she wanted to be. I never knew when she would take offense at something I asked her to do or not do. It was always a guessing game on my part.

I would have loved to have had a honeymoon period like some parents get, but it wasn’t to be. Less than 24 hours after she arrived, she was told “No” by my mother when she tried to steal food at the grocery store. She took offense at it and she did her catatonic disappearing act.

If your child ever did that, you’d know what I mean. Her eyes would roll back in her head, she would stand rigid as a block of wood and you could tell she was mentally gone. This went on for over six months.

Anytime when the whole family would gather for birthdays, holidays, you name it, if someone crossed her, she’d use the catatonic vanishing act. None of us knew how to reach her when she was in that state.

Kara and Susan 1980

One day, I’d finally had it. She went to Neverland and I lost it. I put my hands in front of her face, clapped them hard together and it startled her out of the trance and I told her to never do that again. Surprisingly, she didn’t.

She was tough to reach, but once in a while, we did make good contact and would quietly watch a movie together and enjoy our company.

She would run away, but she had such a good sense of direction, she never got lost. Just as I would get ready to call the police, she’d show up. She did have hidden talents. It took her just a couple of hours to learn to ride her bike.

Where we lived, there was a residents’ pool. We took her to the pool expecting her to just get her feet wet, instead she dived in and swam acrost the pool. It wasn’t graceful, but she knew how to swim. It took 3 ½ years for us to learn that she came from Chittagong in Bangladesh on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. She learned to swim in those waters. 

We would have a fun day, but by the time we returned home, she would be pushing my buttons. It didn’t matter what it was about because she changed tactics several times in one hour.  Many a night I went to bed and screamed into my pillow.

grayscale photography of crying woman
Photo by Kat Smith on Pexels.com

I remember writing an article for my adoptive parent group’s newsletter. I called it “My Star of India.” Talk about never mentioning how difficult parenting her could be. I think most parents of a child with RAD could relate. We all want to show our best foot forward in discussing our children.

I honestly think the hardest thing is to admit we don’t understand what these children have really gone through. It took 3 ½ years for me to finally learn the trauma my daughter lived through. She finally trusted me enough to tell me after a year and a half of therapy.

She wouldn’t tell the therapist anything. Children with RAD don’t have any trust in adults and adult therapists want to know the nitty-gritty of the child’s life. My daughter was sexually abused from the age of three or four by her biological father. She equated that abuse with love. I was really sad for her when she told me.

Her story was a sad thing for her to live through. Her telling me, made me happy that she had some trust in me finally. Of course, she still pushed my buttons over and over again.

photo of children playing with dry leaves
Photo by Michael Morse on Pexels.com

We went on a short overnight visit to a friend of my sister’s. We had me, my sister, my youngest nephew and Kara. We had an up and down day with some fun. But Kara started to get wound up (I would say it was because of new surroundings) and she threw a two-inch cricket in my hair. She laughed hysterically – I was not amused, but took it like a good sport.

Later that day when I was trying to deescalate her, she knocked me to the ground. It scared her and set me off like a loaded cannon. My sister and her friend isolated me until I calmed down, and my nephew talked Kara down.

The next morning when we were able to talk, I explained that her behavior was not going to be allowed again. She cried and promised not to hurt me again. We hugged and as usual, I thought every thing was going to be better.

closeup photography of christmas bauble hanging on tree

It was and it wasn’t. Christmas time that same year we were having a really pleasant time shopping for gifts for the adoptive parent group’s Christmas party. Then what?

She met a boy! Oh my God! My whole world took on a surreal effect. Right after the holidays were over, she and this boy began a romance which included sloughing from school and spending time with this boy.

Kara and Johnny

In March, I knew she was pregnant. We discussed what to do and it was decided she’d marry him. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but that had to be the saddest one I ever made. (If you want to read the rest of the story, check out my blog called “Murder and My Adoption Life.”)

Thanks for reading.

For more information on adoptions, please email me at lamp1685@yahoo.com

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

Published by annla1441

Adoption Social Worker. Lived in Utah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: