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


What Is a Mom’s Experience with a RAD Child?

A Day in the Life of a Parent of a Child with RAD

Mothers of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) have totally different experiences than mothers of attached children. People with no experience with RAD often think the mothers of children with RAD are just exaggerating their parenting problems.

I totally understand what other mothers of kids with RAD deal with day-to-day. My daughter was a mystery to me. She never responded to me like my nephews responded to their mother, my sister. I was not someone she really wanted to know. As far as she was concerned, I was just an annoying caretaker.

Knowing what I do now has given me a much better picture of what happens in the daily life of mothers of children with RAD. Mothers of kids with RAD are almost universally targets of their disturbing behaviors. Those behaviors can include telling lies, stealing, rages, screaming, hitting and any number of behaviors their mothers have never had any experience with or even heard about.

Children with RAD are incredibly intuitive. They can take a couple of days or less in a new home to figure out how to manipulate and triangulate their new parents. If there are other children in the home, the new kid also figures how to get to those kids within days.

“What about the dads?” If the dad works outside the home, he rarely sees what the mom has gone through during the day. This causes a rift between the parents that may eventually lead to major disagreements and maybe even divorce.

Kara Lamphere

The following is a typical day in the life of a mother of a child with RAD. (RAD child)

At 6:30 AM, it’s time to get the children up and get them ready for school. The two older children are grumpy, but moving. The ten-year-old RAD child starts screaming “No, No, I’m not going.” Mom tells the child to get up.

The child gets up and his bedding is soaked. Mom asks the child to remove the sheets so they can be washed. The child starts shrieking and jumping up and down. Mom removes the sheets and tells the child to get dressed. The child starts throwing clothes out of the closet.

Mom decides what the child will wear for the day. The child eventually gets dressed. Next comes an argument over what to have for breakfast. The mother tells the child eat what’s there or go hungry.

All three children go to school. About 10:00 AM, the mother gets a call from the school. The RAD child decided to tell the teachers, the mother is not feeding her child as punishment. The school may have to report child abuse unless the mother can explain why she told the child that.

The school personnel don’t understand the RAD behavior. They want to believe the child because the child already knows how to manipulate the teachers and tells the story with the straightest of faces. Mom explains what happened and teachers agree not to call CPS this time.

It’s 4:00 PM, the children are all home now. There’s homework to be completed. The other children get to work. The RAD child has a massive meltdown. The home work is too dumb, too hard and the child basically refuses to do anything except scream.

The mother sends the RAD child to their room, which makes the child even more angry. The child starts threatening the other kids or the mother with harm. The RAD child threatens to run away, jump off the roof or try to kill themselves by running in front of a car to end their misery.

At 5:30 PM, the dad comes home. The house is in an uproar. The older kids are yelling at their younger sibling. The mother is crying and trying to calm all the children down. Dad yells for quiet and then asks the mom, “What’s for dinner?”

family making breakfast in the kitchen
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

The mom tries to explain what’s happening, but dad has no patience as this happens almost every day. The RAD child has convinced the dad that mom is the reason for all the troubles.

After a few more minutes, the mom cooks dinner. It’s not a pleasant experience. The RAD child gobbles down the food and then runs out the door to get away from the house. The parents take a quick break, clean up the kitchen and then decide it’s bedtime for the children.

The RAD child is nowhere to be found. That child has run away again. This is a continuing nightmare for the parents. The parents begin arguing and call for help. The child is eventually located a few streets over and brought home.

The day isn’t over yet. Now it takes another hour to get the RAD child for bed. The bed needs to be remade. The child balks at the pajamas. The parents put the child to bed and dad stays until the child drifts off to sleep.

Once all is peaceful, mom and dad get a few minuets to discuss the day. The discussion doesn’t go well for mom as dad cannot understand why mom has so much trouble with the RAD child.


The above scenario is just an example, not all families experience all of the behaviors, but mothers do seem to get the brunt of the child’s anger. There has been speculation that the child transfers the feelings of abandonment experienced when taken away from their biological mother to the adoptive mother.

For more information on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), please submit your questions to lamp1685@yahoo.com.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

How Would I know if my Child Could Have RAD?

Have you ever wondered how therapists diagnose Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? Have you asked yourself, “Why does it take so long to get that diagnosis?”

It’s amazing, but there aren’t many physicians or therapists that really understand RAD. They often diagnose a child by their behaviors. The first diagnosis is usually ADHD. What helps kids with ADHD? A drug containing methamphetamine.

Now a true ADHD child does respond well to those drugs. All those drugs do for a child with RAD is wind them up like a top. They can become whirling dervishes. Their ability to concentrate becomes impossible and their behaviors escalate.

Children running

What are the specific behaviors of a child with RAD? There are so many, it’s hard to predict which ones will be more pronounced in any given child. Outwardly lying and stealing are issues almost every family sees.

It’s the control issues that really define RAD. The child has an uncommon need for control of every aspect of his or her life. The loss of control caused by traumatic experiences in a young child’s life, often results in a brain that says “Protect yourself at any cost!”

Rages that can last from five minutes to untold hours can be caused by someone telling the child “No!” When the rages happen, they can cause PTSD in many family members. While in a rage, the child can lash out with physical aggression usually towards his/her mother or another child.

Control, Control, Control. This is the name of the game for a child with RAD. You have no idea how manipulative a child can be until you have lived every day with RAD. They will triangulate parents and the other children in the family. These kids will play parent against parent, siblings against parents or siblings against siblings, anything to control everyone in the family.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

These kids with RAD do not respond to normal parenting. They will sulk, scream, rage, or run away. Therapy, unless a family is lucky to find an attachment therapist, usually is a costly experiment. Kids with RAD do not respond to talk therapy very well.

The next question is do kids with RAD respond to a Residential Treatment Facility (RTF)? The answer is “not particularly well.” Once the children settle in, they begin to figure out who they can control or manipulate.

Sending a child to an RTF gives the adoptive parents some breathing room. It is important for decisions to be made before the child returns home.

There are groups and programs that offer parents of a child with RAD information how to help change parenting techniques or as support systems.

It’s really important to identify a child with RAD the younger the better. Getting diagnoses that really don’t apply keeps the child from getting the correct diagnosis and many years of psychoactive medications that don’t really work except to make the child either hyperactive or lethargic.  

If you have further questions about Reactive Attachment Disorder, please contact me at: lamp1685@yahoo.com.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

What Happens When Adoptive Parents’ Love Is Not Enough?

a happy couple cheering for their son riding a bike
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Parents go into adding to their families by adoption for many reasons. Those reasons may include: they like kids, they are unable to have children or they want to give a child a better life.

Most families go into adoption feeling they have a lot of love to share with children. It can be a shock to these great parents to be rejected by some severely traumatized children. The families are often made to feel their child’s behaviors are all their fault.

The crises these kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can cause  the parents to re-think their adoption options.

wood love art heart
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

The majority of children with RAD, whose families have reached the end of their ropes, find themselves being displaced into new places. These places can be residential treatment facilities (RTF) or boarding schools or inpatient therapeutic hospitals.

How long do these facilities hold these children before sending them back to their adoptive parents? The time depends on many things like how long the kids are allowed to stay, how long a therapist needs to claim the child cured or how long can the parent leave them in the facility.

What happens when the child is pronounced “cured?” He or she is returned to the adoptive parents to start the process over again. This is what is known as a “revolving door.” It’s not really emotionally satisfying for either the children or the parents. The costs can really be extreme and difficult for families to continue paying.

When it turns out that the situation becomes impossible for the family, they start discussing what is going to be best for their child and others in the family. Those discussions can be emotionally draining.

Some families know it would not be safe for their child to return home, but they believe their child would still benefit from being a part of a family, just not in their family.

Making such a change in their family is really tough. It’s always important to involve counselors or therapists for their input and suggestions whenever possible.

Choosing to dissolve their adoption and allow another family raise their adopted child is very traumatic for some adoptive parents.  Many don’t want to place their child because they don’t want to inflict another family with what they have lived with for many years.

Sad Face

The original adoptive parents cannot fathom that their child would behave differently in another home. This is a problem that keeps perpetuating the problem over and over. For one thing younger children ages four to ten do really well in a different family, like about 95 to 97% of the time. 

According to information about older children with RAD, they do well about 75 to 85% of the time when placed in a different home with different rules and situations.

The hypothetical question is “Would a new family be better than a lifetime in an RTF, boarding school or therapeutic inpatient hospital? Only parents with an out-of-control child can really answer this question.

When you can answer this truthfully in thinking about your child’s needs, reach out for help. It’s out there.

Thanks for reading my post.

My Email: lamp1685@yahoo.com My FB page – My Adoption Life

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

Three Rhyming Words: RAD, BAD, SAD!!!!

There are times when I wish I could tell parents of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) that everything will turn out all right for their child. It makes me so sad when I hear stories of how some of these kids carry their trauma into bad relationships or worse.

Sad Face

The worst is what happened to my child with RAD trauma. She was always a victim, even when she thought she wasn’t. She was going to do what she wanted to “come hell or high water!”

When she was arrested for shoplifting, according to her, it was my fault. I had made her so mad, she knew just what to do to get even with me. She knew I didn’t tolerate stealing, so she stole a $2.98 necklace and a $1.00 pencil from a department store. Her mistake was playing a game machine for a couple of hours and the police were ready when she left the store.

Police Badge

Of course, I was called to come get her. I was livid! The police told me it was my responsibility to see that she went to court. At that point, I personally wanted to give her to the police and let them handle her. But no, I took her home and, sad to say, I railed at her for about an hour.

Yelling is such a wasted time and effort with these kids with RAD. After years of experience working with families of kids with RAD, I know better, but then I didn’t.

I took my daughter to Juvenile Court hoping the judge would explain to her it was really a bad thing to steal. It was such a learning experience for me to find out that it was all my fault that she took things without paying for them.

At that point I let the judge have it. I explained in no uncertain terms that she needed to take responsibility for her actions and I was NOT responsible for the actions she took. I grabbed my daughter’s arm and marched out of the judge’s court while he sat there with his mouth open!

brown gavel
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Pexels.com

I hate to say it, but people in authority have never intimated me. They’ve tried, I don’t know how many times, but it just doesn’t work with me. I hear stories all the time how families are treated nastily by police, judges, social workers, therapists and teachers.

When my daughter started missing school, I found out that she was sloughing to be with this kid she met at a store at Christmas time. She didn’t take into consideration the principal would call and let me know she was missing.

When confronted, she lied and tried to convince me that she was going to school, the principal just didn’t see her. Well, that didn’t fly. I followed her the next day and watched where she went. She headed directly to her new boyfriend’s apartment.

Sorry guys, I lost my temper again. She could always push my buttons. I feel really sorry, but kids with RAD do this so frequently, it’s part of the RAD diagnosis.

Kara and Johnny

She eventually became pregnant by this boyfriend.  My choices were let them get married, move out of the state, have her have an abortion or let her become a single mother. None of my choices were really exceptionally great, so I let her marry him.

At the time they married, he had a steady job and making enough to support them.  That lasted about six weeks until he was fired. I never knew why, but I think he stole money from the company. He was definitely a thief and sold drugs.

My daughter has four children all of them fathered by this criminal she was married to. The three boys have been in prison off and on for the last 20 years. My granddaughter is the only one who’s never been in trouble.


My daughter’s husband is in prison with a terminal life sentence for killing a woman, which should be carried out in 2022. My daughter is in prison until 2023 because she wouldn’t get help to prevent her husband’s killing of the woman.

I don’t know if she has changed her thought processes and probably won’t ever really know. I do know this, as do families whose children have left their homes in tatters, that I’m not looking forward to ever meeting her again in person.

I know my story is somewhat unique, but there have always been problems with adopted children.  The early childhood trauma experienced by children available for adoption has given the practice a bad image. There are thousands upon thousands who have been adopted and have grown up totally loved and successful. I salute those children’s parents every day.


Thanks for reading

If you’d like more information, please email me at lamp1685@annlamphere

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

Really Non-Traditional Adoptive Parents!


Who are non-traditional adoptive parents? For one thing I’m one, a single never-married adoptive parent. In this post, I’ll be discussing what constitutes non-traditional adoptive parent(s)

There are always going to be someone who thinks that non-traditional people shouldn’t adopt. The comments I’ve heard over the years have disgusted me. A child in need of a parent should not have his or her parents disparaged for their choice of lifestyle.

The first group of parents are those never-married men and woman. As one of this group, I will always promote the possibilities of their parenting skills. Children who have manipulated and triangulated previous adopted parents, often do better with this group because the targets aren’t as readily available.

I love single dads who are ready and willing to become fathers and mentors for older boys with a lot of issues. Believe it or not, this is one of the groups, We need the most to become adoptive parents. The boys need you!

Dad and child

As a single female adoptive parent, I want other single women to become adoptive parents. The ability to relate to a girl with major issues has made this group one of my favorite adoptive parent groups.

Over the years, I have seen same-sex couples successfully raise children, whether biological or adopted. I’m going to start calling them “Double Dads and Two Moms” because that’s what they would be in adopting one of our children. The children do not become gay or lesbian from living in those families! I resent hearing that those relationships are not normal.

By the way, what do you consider normal? Is it better to live in a home where the father continues to sexually abuse his daughters? Or, where the son is also sexually abused? Or the children starve, or get beaten, or neglected? For many children this is “normal.”

None of the family situations above would be considered normal. If the children accept the parents’ love and grow up and become successful, that’s is so much better than “normal.”

If you fit into one of those non-traditional roles, please consider adopting one of our R.A.D. Teen Adoption children. Please email the program at: radteenadopting@wiaa.org.

Thank you for reading this post. Please email me if you have any questions about Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or adoptions in general. My email is: lamp1685@yahoo.com.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

Non-Traditional Adoptive Parents – Section 1

Years ago, I watched a PBS program about new books and the authors. I can still remember that day so vividly. The weather was cloudy and I was bored with the basketball games running on the regular TV stations. It was a Saturday in the middle of January.

The author of the book They Came to Stay was Marjorie Margolis. The story was about how Ms. Margolis discovered that single parents were adopting children. Because of that discovery, she adopted two little girls, one from Korea and the other one from Vietnam. (The book is on Amazon for $580.00 – LOL)

WOW! I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but at 34 I felt that wasn’t going to happen because there was no “dad” candidate in my life. The question in my mind was “Would any adoption agency consider allowing me to adopt as a single person?”

I rushed out and bought the book. I read it in one sitting. Then, I read it again and again. I finally reached a point where I felt I could approach an adoption agency in Salt Lake City. Utah and see if they would approve me for adoption.

Children’s Service Society’s (CSS) adoption social worker told me it had not been done before, but she was willing to speak to me and we set up an appointment. I was so thrilled!


I’ve always known that I’m a bit different than the people I grew up with. I was thrilled even more when the social worker turned out to be an incredible black woman. She told me she was the first black adoption social worker in Utah and she was excited to help me become the first single adoptive parent in Utah.  We were firsts together.

The home study procedure was a real learning curve. It was paperwork and more paperwork. I started the process in March and it was finally done and approved in May.

Locating a child became the next problem. My choice in a child was either a girl or a boy between the ages of five and ten in the United States. I preferred a five-year-old, but I wasn’t about to limit my choices since I didn’t have the funds to do an international adoption at that time.

I spent the next two and a half years dealing with three new adoption workers because my initial worker left the agency after we had been working together for about nine months (She found a better paying position, so I couldn’t cry, even though I wanted to.)

The new adoption workers were against a single parent.  Talk about discrimination. One told me that the only child she would consider for me was one that was so handicapped, nobody else would adopt. WHAT??? As a single parent, I knew that wouldn’t work for me.

While with CSS, I had three home studies. The last social worker I worked with was absolutely against me adopting. What disturbed me later about her was that she was a single lesbian woman. I found that out a couple of years after I moved on to the State of Utah.

When I went to the State of Utah, I became the first single parent approved for adoption in the state.  I do think if I hadn’t had those three approved home studies from CSS, they would have denied me.

Because I recognized that it would help me eventually find a child, I became a foster care parent. That was an experience that I realize now was a great learning experience.

When no children were coming my way through the services of the state, I decided to go international. After waiting four years, my daughter Kara finally arrived from India.

That’s when my adoption advocacy started to take root. Here I am now, an adoption social worker, a parent of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), and an educator trying to get the word out about RAD.

Thank you for reading this post. If you would like to contact me, my email is lamp1685@yahoo.com

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

Hunting for Reactive Attachment Disorder (R.A.D.) Groups

Silhouette of children

Today I want to find other programs that help parents of adopted children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I’ve checked out some Facebook RAD groups. I hate to say it, but some of the groups have less than 5 members. I know the families must be hurting because there are so many of these small groups.

I’d really like to know how to reach all these groups and let them know they’re not alone. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only professional who has been a parent of a kid with RAD. I think we should all get together and share our support information

What I’ve found out is that there are child therapists out there telling families RAD does not exist. It is not a proper diagnosis!

man in black sweater and blue denim jeans sitting on brown wooden rocking chair

Since I have had approximately 400-500 family clients who have a child diagnosed with RAD by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist in the last 11 years, I think we need to inform professionals to get over their prejudices.

I am very proactive to get the correct diagnosis for our families’ children. As most parents know, ADHD is usually the child’s first diagnosis and the kid gets a drug to control it. Those drugs don’t usually work. Surprise, surprise!!

Until I can get my dream for kids with RAD getting the correct diagnosis and help, I think getting parents of kids with RAD on the same page and be super supportive of each other is really important.

Would you, my readers like to have one place for new people to check out the different types of RAD groups? I know of a few and will get their permission to advocate for them on my new Facebook page: My Adoption Life. 

The thing that’s interesting to me is that there is such diversity among the groups. There are support groups, educational groups, podcasts and basic information groups. Each serves a different population with one goal in mind: Helping families understand RAD.

I’d also like to get professionals, i.e., therapists, social workers and teachers involved. Adoptive parents need their help as well.

group of people near wall
Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

All of this is my dream for today.

If you have any information to share, please email me at lamp1685@yahoo.com or post it on my FB page: My Adoption Life.

Thank you for reading this post.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

Exciting News on My RAD Course!

people watching fireworks display at night
Photo by Denys Gromov on Pexels.com

Oh my gosh, I have great news. My course has been purchased several times. The director of Wasatch International Adoptions purchased the beginning section. She is going to add it to the agency training manual for new adopting families.

The director, Ms. Kathleen Kaiser gave the course a great review. This is what she said about the course. “I have found this information on RAD incredibly timely and informative. The information is very readable and understandable and the format is great.  I feel this information will be a tremendous help to both our agency’s staff and the clients we work with.”

Here’s a person who understands the need for this information to get out to new adoptive families.

person in black pants and black shoes sitting on brown wooden chair
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The course should be taken by therapists, teachers and medical personnel to introduce them to Reactive Attachment Disorder. Most of the people in those professions really have little understanding of RAD.

Have any of my readers a way to get the names, addresses and directors of private adoption agencies in the United States? Their emails would be helpful. If you feel it’s important to reach as many people as we can to tell the world about RAD, please help get the word out about the course.

If you have any information about professionals you feel need to hear about the course, please email me at lamp1685@yahoo.com.

Right now, the first section of the course costs $49 with an option to purchase the rest of the course for $200. The cost will go up November 1, 2021 to $500.

Here’s a link to the course material: Opening the Eyes of Professionals and Families to R.A.D. (aweb.page)

Thanks to all my readers. I really appreciate all of you.

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

Informing Professionals and Adoptive Families Communicating to Each Other About RAD

Over the last 11 years, the recurring complaint from families of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is that NOBODY LISTENS TO THEM.

I hear this statement all the time. Why is RAD such an ignored diagnosis? Nobody, even the majority of therapists, recognize the symptoms of RAD. The common diagnosis that’s given to children with past trauma is ADHD.

Then as the child gets older, the diagnoses become PTSD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, behavioral disorder, or bi-polar disorder. It takes years of visits, I don’t know how many therapists the family visits to finally get the RAD diagnosis.

The families tell me the child’s history is often not believed when the family shares what they know about their child. That couldn’t be what causes their behaviors! Of course, it does!

Teachers have a tendency to think the parents have no clue what’s going on with their child, because the child is a good student. The parents have to be lying.

The communication between families and professionals is not good. The professionals believe one thing and the families know something else. The disconnect between the families and the professionals impedes everyone being on the same page for treatment of the child.

My course called “Opening the Eyes of Professionals and Adoptive Families” is now available.

This first part of the course introduces what RAD is and what some of the behaviors are. The Second part is going to include how to communicate with families and professionals without condemnation or ridicule.

Here’s a link to the course https://naomilamphere.aweb.page/p/257736a7-2ce1-4284-8e91-8b90c464dc05.

Thank you for reading my post. Please share if you think this course would benefit you or your family members. My email is: lamp1685@yahoo.com

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW

An old picture of me and my daughter
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