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There are several comments I'd like to make about Dawn's interesting piece. One is that, although both adopted and nonadopted children may be poor sleepers, this characteristic is not particularly a part of Reactive Attachment Disorder as it's defined and described in DSM-IV-Tr (and as it will be in DSM-V). Some adopted children may have very poor attachment histories and traumatic early experiences, but that does not mean that all problems found in adoptive families are problems of attachment. It's important to get good assessments of all aspects of a child's development rather than attributing every difficulty to attachment, and assuming that if attachment were "fixed" every other problem would be fixed too. The research on this topic, especially that of Michael Rutter on Romanian orphans adopted by English families, shows that the great majority of those children gradually catch up with their adoptive siblings, physically, cognitively, and socially. The most common delays are in language development.When either adopted or nonadopted children display behavior or mood problems, they need individualized treatment that will help with their specific symptoms. One size does not fit all, and it's possible that some of the popular "attachment therapies" do not fit any. I'd like to encourage parents who are concerned about their children's development to consult psychologists or psychiatrists with broad backgrounds in clinical work with children, rather than those with a single focus or a title like "registered attachment therapist". The problem may not be all about attachment-- indeed, it may not be about attachment at all-- and the family will be helped most effectively by clinicians who are prepared to deal with a wide range of difficulties.Jean Mercer
Jean, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you for the piece and for coming here to clarify some of your thoughts and also sharing this research and your advice. I learn a great deal from reading your blog so I want to point readers in that direction too: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/child-myths
This was a great article. I especially liked the information about parents of mentally ill biological children also letting go of their children. I think parenting a mentally ill child (particularly one who is dangerous) is a momentous task, and unfortunately, so many children available for adoption are mentally ill as a result of biology and experience. Love doesn't fix mentally ill.
Johanna, thanks for your kind words about the piece. I'm extremely uncomfortable with saying that many children available for adoption are mentally ill; this simply isn't true. However it is true that circumstances that make some children available for adoption (abuse, neglect, trauma in their birth countries) and environments in which some children must wait for adoption (understaffed, under funded orphanages or several placements) may also damage the psychological well-being those children. This is not *necessarily* the same as being mentally ill.I feel compelled to re-quote Jae Ran: "[T]here are tremendous survival skills that these children have developed. They wouldn’t have survived without these."And Astrid: "It is a normal human reaction to have some serious attachment issues when you are taken from your birth mother and placed in an orphanage."I know this may be a quibble but it'd be a mistake to extrapolate the specifics here and make any statements about the general population of children waiting to be adopted. I do, however, hope that it will be a cautionary tale for parents who are considering adoption and also an impetus to start looking for services before being placed with a child.As for the idea that many kids available for adoption being mentally ill due to biology, I haven't seen any research to support this claim.
In fact, the great majority of adopted children do very well. Adoption has even been described as the most effective of all interventions.
Yes, thank you, Jean. I was mowing the lawn and realizing, too, that I need to be clear that this article is about children who have extreme issues and while those issues might be caused or exacerbated by the circumstances of their lives, most children do very well and if they have issues, they are certainly not this severe. Still any family can benefit by having access to services and some basic understanding of what kinds of things kids who are adopted might need.
Thank you for such a well written piece.My husband and I adopted 3 siblings from Ghana, 2 years ago ... adding them to our 10 bio. children. We had NO IDEA of the crisis that awaited us.Last summer, we discovered that our adopted son should have never been placed for adoption with his 2 younger siblings. While we are very involved, protective, homeschooling parents ... we had no idea of the things that had been taking place in our home for the past 15 months.We sought help from agencies, counselors, pastors, medical doctors, the local police ... but found no help. It was clear that we had to dissolve the adoption of our son, in order to protect our 5 younger children. We saw no other way.It was also clear that, in addition to the ongoing physical protection needed for our 5 younger children, that our 2 adopted daughters absolutely needed to be protected emotionally from their brother. We did not feel that they could ever heal from their lives of trauma, if they continued in the same home as their brother.We have a daughter who deals with many RAD issues (while not officially diagnosed). We know that we have many years of healing that still needs to take place. It's going to be a long road of parenting her ... a very long road.While we loved our son dearly, we knew that it was best for him and for the rest of the family, that we find a new family for him. He is now in a home where the 2 older siblings are off at college, and the parents can focus much of their daily lives on his needs. We hope the very best for him. We hold no anger or bitterness towards him. We just knew that we could not be his "forever family".Thanks again, for bringing this to light in a very honest and non-critical way.Laurelmama of a dozen
Agreeing with Jean Mercer about not taking kids to "attachment therapy" without seriously looking into what this might involve. There are too many quacks and questionable therapies out there aimed at "fixing" adopted kids without looking at the whole family dynamic and other issues that might not be attachment related at all. Some of these are abusive and dangerous. Better to look for a good general family therapist to begin.There seems to be a heavy fundamentalist religious component in some of these stories that raises a red flag. I do not think those who feel "God told them" to adopt a certain child, or group of children, or more children than they can handle should be allowed to adopt without a great deal of scrutiny from non-religious child welfare authorities. Nor do I like the idea of "child swap" groups on the internet moving these kids from one family to another without a great deal of professional oversight. The voice that is missing from all these stories is the voice of the child. Surely there are adopted people who are now adults who have been the subject of terminated adoptions. Or are they all judged so damaged that their side of the story would be seen as lies or delusion? That is the impression that this article gives. Terminating an adoption is not just another "parenting decision". It the end of parenting, it is stepping legally out of that role. These stories are all tragic, and lack of services and preparation play a huge part in adoption terminations, but surely in some cases, dysfunction in the adoptive family, not just the child, play a role as well. I do not see where that was addressed, in the attempt to be sympathetic to parents who terminate an adoption.There are at least two sides to every story. This article only told one, and had a disturbing undercurrent of normalizing something that should very rarely happen, and should never be seen as just another good parenting choice when it does.
WOW, what an AMAZING service you have done with this article! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! the difficulties with international adoption are the ugly little secret, until now. we're supposed to be the cool "multi-racial families who celebrate all cultures and see the world as a global community". and sometimes our family IS that---and sometimes we are the "falling apart during this extremely difficult adjustment period" family. and people don't want to see or hear that, they like to maintain the fantasy they've created in their head about OUR family, and, for some, how they would like to have such a family.i adopted my daughter 6 years ago and she was 18 months old. i knew i would adopt again, and looked into it when she started asking for a sibling. as it turned out her bio brother was available for adoption so i started the proceedings. it was 7 months for my daughter, and 2 years to the day with my son, who was 4 when he went into the orphanage. needless to say, those 2 years were frustrating to us both, him especially. and the 2 years since he's been home have been the worse for our entire family. he had a lot of the issues dicussed here---incredibly violent with his sister (i couldnt let them play alone so had to be with them constantly), verbally abusive to us both, he used to run out of the house several times a day and be all the way down the street very quickly b/c he's very fast. suspended from school and daycares, etc...he's still very difficult, gets angry over little things, still hits occasionally, he's still verbally abusive often, very disruptive of family time and meals, etc... BUT, all that said, he is soooo smart and i am soooo proud of the hard work he has done to come as far as he has in just 2 years. he is a very charismatic kid, and athletically and intellectually gifted, and these gifts have helped him a lot to get as far as he has.a question: are there "varying degrees" of RAD? my son has a lot of the issues discussed, but i think his love for his sister now is genuine and possibly his love for me too. but, at times, i also find myself in the "well, at least he hasn't killed any small animals" frame of thought too, and that's not good for either of us.i'm STILL trying to find the right therapist, although the one we have now is the closest to what we need as he works with at-risk youth. not exactly our situation, but the issues are often the same.i feel very alone, someone recently told me "it's like you're alone out at sea with no one to help you and no life preservers in sight..." and that's exactly how i feel! my son is very charming and well-liked by most people----and they dont want to hear that he isnt the fabulous kid they think he is. I think he's FABULOUS b/c i see beyond the charm, through the horrible behavior to the AMAZING boy i know he is in his heart and soul. i am soooooo glad i met him once before he came home, and for 2 AMAZING interns at his orhanage who kept WONDERFUL blogs over those 2 years, b/c it is very difficult to even like him at times, let alone love him! but i DID get to see the amazing boy and man-to-be inside him and it turns out that has been PRICELESS!!!! i remember the first time i felt a pang of love for him, it was 3 months AFTER he had been here and i was soooo grateful when it finally happened b/c i feared it never would. wow, apparently i have a lot to get out, sorry for rambling on and on and on...THANK YOU AGAIN for this EXCELLENT article, and for opening up this dicussion!! you have no idea how many people you have helped, and how much you have helped them, with this article.
The voice of children whose adoptions have been disrupted certainly IS missing as is the adults who WERE these children. I looked for them but unfortunately many of the people I reached out to were unable to or unwilling to be interviewed or once interviewed to be quoted in the article. As to the Christian component, only one family featured here had an adoption that one could call "faith based" and she is as critical as the commenter here but she is critical in hindsight. Agencies do a great job of talking up "saving" children (there are even agencies with the word "save" as in Save a Child in their names) so we can't entirely condemn parents who believe that this is an appropriate reason to adopt. It's complicated.Certainly family dysfunction plays into some disrupted adoptions. I feel like Arleta James and Katie Valentino both spoke to this in the piece. These are not the families, however, who were comfortable being featured in the article and with good reason. I was fortunate that the families who did speak to me were generous enough to share knowing they were opening themselves up to criticism. Carol in particular, I felt, was very brave to speak with me since she shared so much and so openly.
One thing that concerns me greatly in the disruption debate is the way adoptive parents sometimes paint these children as savage, cunning, and morally reprehensible. It is taking some very difficult characteristics correctly described as coping mechanisms to deal with abuse and other forms of maltreatment and turning them into “the bad” as though the child actually had some moral choice or accountability. “He was way too manipulative for us—a born liar,” you often here these people saying—the poor adults trapped inside their home with their demon adoptee. (Um, who's the adult here?) I agree with Anon that a motive to adopt coming out of a religious context is often leads to some of these problems. The one very intriguing statement I read recently about disruption came from Newsweek, where a professional talked about the first adoptive family being scapegoated by the adoptee and that this was very helpful psychologically to the adoptee. The rationale appeared to be that if the child were given the chance to scapegoat the first set of a-parents and project all their rage and insecurities onto them, they could sometimes move on to the next family with some of their defences dropped. If Jean Mercer is still checking in here, I'd like to hear her opinion on that. It seemed to be based on cases where this had been observed.
I really hope the main content of the article - adoption dissolution - doesn't get lost in the chronic debate about attachment therapy. Adoption dissolution - as Dawn so eloquently portrayed - involves many factors related to agency practices, family characteristics and child characteristics, post-placement service availabilty, etc. The fact that many children get labeled with various mental health diagnoses, including Reactive Attachment Disorder, is more resultant of the lack af adequate diagnoses available to clinicians. Professionals knowledgeable in working with adoptive families have shifted to utilize complex trauma developed by Bessel van der Kolk and group. In working with families, complex trauma allows clinicians to describe the child's problems from a broad base. Professionals operating strickly as "attachment therapists" are currently rare.Families do certainly want to look at their adopted child from as broad a base as possible, families also want to access a professional knowledgeable in the family dynamics created when a traumatized child is placed within a healthy functioning family system. This is often beyond the scope of practice of a traditional family therapist. Thus, post-placement families do not receive the help needed. The longer families languish in unproductive services, the more likely disruption and dissolution becomes a viable option.There are many clinicians competent in adoption, trauma and attachment. These professionals make good starting places for parents and their adoptees with histories of trauma. PRE-placement is the time for agencies to help families locate these type of professionals, as well as the nearest adoption medical clinic. Work with adoptive families is a speciality. If I ever unfortuantely develop cancer, I want to go to the best oncologist, not the local family doctor with only some knowledge of my particular cancer. Adopting a traumatized child requires the same level of knowledge and expertise.So, in addition to adequate pre-adoptive education, helping families to continue educating themselves during the waiting process and post-placement, linking adoptive families to veteran adoptive parents, paying placement workers adequate salaries commesurate with the knowledge needed to assist families - specialized post-adoption services are an absolutely essential ingredient to successful adoption outomes.In this manner, adoption does become a most successful intervention for children.Sincerely,Arleta James
A little footnote for folks interested. TTops has moved out of our home and into the group home. We are very much still her family and always will have legal guardianship and see her or talk to her every day. She is doing very well (the staff maybe not as much, LOL). I am watching our relationship develop, grow and strengthen as we are able to focus on IT instead of her behaviors and the hundreds of various things that she would do that were unsafe in our home. We are so fortunate that our social service system recognized that this was what she needed to keep everyone safe and supported us in her move without requiring us to give up our rights as her parents. Many families have to disrupt just so their kids can GET services. We are lucky that we did not.
Thank you for shining a bright light on the issue. My family went though pure hell about 20 years ago when adopted sibling had more problems than could be managed in a home setting. Trying to get help was extremely difficult, and dissolving the adoption was not even possible in our state. We all bear the psychological scars of that period. I don't blame sibling, he's as much a victim as anyone else. He was abused and damaged beyond repair by his birth parents. But foisting a damaged child into a family with the belief that stability and love fix everything does everyone a disservice.
I found your article refreshing and informative. Thank you for pointing out that biological parents do give their kids away- either formally or informally- or leave them selves.I grew up in a very middle class world, yet I knew two classmates whose parents had them declared incorrigible and gave them to the state. I visited one of them at juvenile hall, once, but don't know what happened to them.I was also abandoned by my own bio father and other that having one of his wives use my social security number (yes stolen identity) other than that have had no contact with him in twenty years. He has no idea if i am alive or dead, if I needed help, etc. Many parents, especially men, seem completely able to just walk away from children. The fact that I had a wonderful mother was my saving grace.I think that as a culture, we have a hard time admitting that there are some things that are not fixable, that are too much to take on.
As an adoptive mother I thought this article was interesting and a bit tantalizing. Overall, I think it was very well done. Unfortunately, I feel that it may scare some people away from adopting when I don't think that was the author's intent. If you're just beginning to think about adopting, it's a bit scary to consider that as many as an estimated 25% of all adoptions terminate before or after finalization. It's unclear if this statistic is based on foster-care cases or if it includes literally ALL adoptions. The author does not provide any evidence that this statistic extrapolates to international adoptions but does insinuate that it might. Does it include domestic infant adoptions as well? If so, might birth mothers changing their minds skew this statistic.As a mother of both biologic and adopted (international) children I've never felt differently towards them, unlike the author. I did not bond immediately to either of my biologic children and I suspect that "immediate bonding" is a fantasy that many women claim but don't actually experience (the biologic myth?). Bonding is a process and doesn't always occur immediately and this is supported by the literature.I only have experience with one adoption agency but the portrayal of the adoption industry differed from my experience with my agency. My adoption agency did a lot to educate adoptive parents about issues concerning Reactive Attachment Disorder, transracial/transcultural issues, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, as well as many other issues facing adoptive parents and adoptees. They also have many post-adoption services. These issues were addressed in a mandatory 2 day pre-adoption class for both parents (and other optional classes), a self-analysis which was reviewed by our social worker as well as in the home study. In addition, the agency provided a bibliography of recommended reading and provided their own literature about these issues.The article implies that it is rare for adoption agencies to provide any education. These educational processes should be the industry standard (and required for their licensing). I would be interested to know more regarding this aspect. What is the industry standard? What are the requirements for licensing? What percentage of adoption agencies provide education on adoption issues and post-adoption services?I think the issue that is not addressed in this article is the responsibility of the adoptive parent(s) to educate themselves on adoption issues in general but on difficult issues especially (just as it is any parent's responsibility to educate themselves on child development, schools, diet, etc.). The agencies do bear a responsibility to make sure adoptive parents are fully aware of the potential problems and try to identify those parents whose idealism blinds them to the pitfalls. What factors can social workers use to predict a successful placement of a damaged child? It seems like a very difficult task.I realize the author did not have the space to address all these questions but the article did leave me asking them. Perhaps she will write a book one day!
Hi Sherry --I'm glad that your experience was so much better than the ones in the article! It is very difficult to find statistics about adoption because the only agencies who HAVE to keep them are public agencies (i.e., foster agencies). There is a lot that's happening in adoption that is happening under the radar and it can be very difficult for hopeful adoptive parents (and expectant parents considering adoption) to choose an agency that will be serve them.Also agencies are licensed by their home states and every state has different standards for licensing adoption agencies. There is not federal oversight (this is especially clear in domestic adoption where laws vary so widely that some unscrupulous lawyers will move expectant mothers to more "adoption-friendly" states to get babies to their paying clients more quickly). This is why it is very difficult to get numbers about disruption. The two resources I found most useful are here:http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/s_disrup.cfm (very brief overview but highlights the need for more and better research)and this report from the Evan B. Donaldson Institute:http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/publications/2004_disruption_report.html (a review of the literature)Jae Ran of Harlow's Monkey who I interviewed for the piece has a fantastic blog about adoption ethics that is primarily focused (but not entirely) on international adoption. I would encourage you to look to her writing:http://harlowmonkey.typepad.com/harlows_monkey/Education is everything and I certainly don't want to scare people away from adoption but I do want to scare them into educating themselves before they do so.
Until adoption is devoted to the best interests of children, both those from other countries and those born here in the U.S., and not to people who want to adopt whether because they are childless, want to have a larger family, or for any other (probably valid) reason, these stories will continue to haunt us. Traditionally adoption has served adults, not children.
Thank you for writing a well researched, meaty article on the topic of disruption/dissolution. It was satisfying to read something longer than a few paragraphs with more than a couple quotes from one or two parents or one therapist/professional in the adoption world. Thank you!I have been struggling to bond with our newest family member after having already known the successes of our two earlier international adoptions. So, I know int'l adoption can be a beautiful thing. I also know now, that it might not always work out. All the stories and articles about disruption or troubled families struggling with an adopted child are focused on how horrible the child's behavior is. The child that I am struggling to attach to is a sweet kid who is very well behaved. I therefore feel even more alone in this without any horrible behaviors to blame for believing that dissolution would be best for all of us. I can't explain to outsiders that our daughter would be better off living with another family because the rest of us are not safe with her here. She is delightful, smart as a whip, and very affectionate. The circumstances of her adoption from Guatemala were a mess. Dh and I had no interest in adopting an older child. But that's who she was by the time we finally fought hard enough with both governments to get her home. She came with tons of personality and habits that are not like the other six members of our family. Nine months later and she still seems like a square peg to me. Thousand of dollars paid to our attachment therapist later, and I still feel nothing close to love for her. Bring on the condemnation from other parents who have not ever felt this way. I was them before this experience. Nothing anyone can write or say about how horrible I am for not being able to love this child can add any more guilt to what I am already dragging around with me.The only way I would dissolve this adoption would be in an open way to a family that I know would be better for her. We are fortunate in that she could potentially become a family member through adoption with her biological sister if we choose to no longer parent this child. All that sharing to say, I am commenting to agree with the notion in Dawn's article that not all adoptions are a good fit. And the sentiment that resonated most with me was that some parents feel that they cannot turn back when they've already gone so far, done so much, invested so much in bringing the child home. After about the two year mark into our last adoption with no more than a 50/50 chance according to our Guatemalan attorney, we asked our agency to terminate our process. From that point on I was emotionally removed more than I knew until our daughter came home almost two more roller coaster years later. Our agency was one of many that, also like the one mentioned in the article, was running on the assumption that getting the child out of their birth country and into the USA was their main objective. Then whatever happens happens, but they believed the child would be better off at least by being an American. That belief together with the fact that Guatemalan adoptions closed right after we asked to be taken out of the process, led us to continue on with a process fraught with corruption and more ups and downs than we could have imagined despite being well read and experienced in international adoption. So how could we turn our backs on this little girl after coming so far?!Now how much too late is it?! A family can be torn up and become dysfuntional even without any major RAD behaviors to content with.
This article scares me to death. I have a NSN 7 year old girl from China, and am planning on adopting a SN 5 year old girl or boy.Now I don't know.I'm going to take the day off from working on adoption issues and try to clear my head. I hope things look better to me tomorrow. I know that idea is to prepare people and have them come up with a plan, but right now I feel terrified and hopeless and that I may be putting my daughter in danger.
I have 8 adopted children, 7 from post-Soviet orphanages, 1 is a readoption. We have 4 birth children who were ages 12, 14, 16 & 20 when we first adopted. 6 yr.s ago we adopted 2 boys ages 6yr. (many special needs) & 14 months (cleft lip & palate & related hearing issues). 3 yr.s ago we adopted a sibling group: girl 11 & her 4 brothers, ages 8, 5,4, & 2. We recently added a girl to our houseful of boys, age 7, who needed to be readopted. All of our children are doing well, even though we chose each child before ever meeting him/her. I am personally acquainted with some of the most heart-rending adoption stories, & so I know how bad it can be; I've even cared, temporarily for some of those children who are now struggling with terrible problems. I thank God that our children are doing so well, but some days are a real marathon, stretching my parenting skills waay beyond anything I ever imagined. Experience, in my opinion, as well as the fact that we are a husband/wife team helps, & I thank God that we have held this family happily together with no major problems. Just wanted to throw in my success story, as I see it. I could be home free-my youngest birth child is 19; we lived aboard our yacht one yr. w/the birth children & would love to take off into the wild blue yonder again, but we cannot even afford a boat w/all the adoption expenses, medical bills, & just the cost of providing for my children. But I wouldn't change a thing-right here is where I am happy to be.
I think Ron's comment is sad. I am quite confident that in today's climate my husband would never have gone along with adopting one child, let alone our wonderful four. No one educates parents, prior to biological children's births about the possible problems - Your child may have autism, learning disabilities, mood disorders, hyperactivity, depression! Why? Well, because expecting a child is a time for anticipation and joy - and when you have a child you are supposed to love it and cope with whatever fate brings. Is it always rosy? No. But, do we expect to see a spate of articles about the "realities" of giving birth? The "trials" of having a "troubled" child with an implication that disruption is an option? I doubt it will happen. Should it happen?I don't know. In our school presently are children living with relatives and in one case a family friend, because their parents didn't bond with them. As an educator who has worked with many families over the years, I see biological families struggle with severe problems too - and the enormous burden there is that no one would EVER forgive a biological parent for not bonding with a child - yet it happens. A few have confessed it. That guilt and grief truly runs deep. The biological parent will always be blamed - not only for the lack of love, but for whatever problem the child presents.One argument I have with the article is the suggestion that when things go wrong, people blame the parents, not the child. I see the opposite as true in adoption. An adopted child is always suspect, whereas I do often feel that the fit is simply wrong. In some cases it seems fairly clear that it is a parental "attachment disorder". Before we adopted our first son, several people came to me and kindly suggested that I might be bringing all sorts of "mental illness" or "perversion" into our home. No one said that about our biological children, though since I grew up with one severely autistic cousin and one manic depressive cousin, that always struck me as a distinct possibility.
To the person who suggested that adoption should only take place when in the best interests of the CHILD. . . Are you kidding me? Of course most everybody would think that is a good idea, but then again, who is going to decide what the best interests of the child are???? No one who has seriously been involved in the adoption process ---in Ethiopia or Russia for example--- would EVER dream of suggesting that there might be manpower, time and MONEY to invest in ANY type of psychological examination or preparation of the children. Often very basic medical needs aren't met for these children. If they don't have PARENTS fighting for their treatment and rights, you can be SURE that these abandoned kids are getting little or bad help in their orphanages, if not much worse.
just want to thank you. I am a desperate Aunt to a wounded child in our care and I had no idea what I was stepping into. I had a pretty rough road getting my adopted daughter from China to bond with us but with a lot of help and interventions, she is doing amazingly well. She still has quirks and anxieties but is on the road to healing. But my niece is out of the ball park so to speak and my husband and I do think about dissolving this situation. No conscience, hurting my daughter, my pets, sexually acting out, full of rage and inappropriate thoughts. I don't know if we can safely keep her in our home much longer. Your essay made me realize that I am not the only one. We just were not equipped to take care of a child with such horrible issues. Me, even with my bag of tricks and resources, is finding it near impossible to reach her. And I never blame her for who she is. I, however, cannot see caring for her like this much longer.
This was a wonderful article. I am so glad the other side of adoption is coming to light. I think parents should be at least warned what is possible. We are the parents of five wonderful children. Our oldest daughter who is now 24 years old was adopted by us when she was 13 years old. We went through almost every issue that was listed in the article. NO ONE TOLD US what to expect with RAD/FAS. Unfortunately, our daughter is homeless and on drugs and refuses to get help. I wonder how other parents handle adult adoptive children that are in similiar situations. We have had to cut contact to keep ourselves and our children safe.
Thanks for addressing this topic, Dawn. There are so many families out there dealing with these kinds of issues, and our adoption myths can add isolation, guilt and blame to the pain families already feel.
It's clear a lot of research and thoughtfulness went into this article, and yet like a few other commenters, I felt like there was perhaps an unintended subtext here communicating that when adoptions fall apart, it's always the "damaged" children that are to blame. Many of the stories about disruption published in the wake of the Savelyev case seem to follow families who felt forced to pursue disruption. As a parent of three internationally adopted children, I understand that there are challenging situations where disruption is the best option for all concerned, and that certainly seems the case for the families the author profiled here. However, it would be refreshing to read an article that focused on a family that faced a tremendous adjust challenge and worked through it, and that detailed not just therapies for the child but the "therapies" that the parents needed also. As other commenters pointed out, it's not just the kids who have trouble adjusting, attaching etc and attachment is not always the issue.
Thank you so much for the well-written article. I have spent the past 4 years in hell without my voice being heard. I just want to share/shout that there are so many of us adoptive parents out there suffering through RAD with very little help. We have exhausted everything including ourselves. Our child adopted 4 years ago at age 9 fits the classic profile of violent RAD (including needing very little sleep- part of being "hypervigilant" and yes, we have awakened in the night with her standing staring at us and yes, she hid and had an obsession with knives). I could go on and on for 4 years, but I simply plead for more people to speak out and speak up. I so want to save other families from what we have experienced. Words cannot describe the relentless constant terror of living with someone whose main goal is to kill you all the while others and "the system" suspect or blame you. The more people are educated to the truth, the better. We have met many many international adoptive parents and we have yet to meet anyone who would call their situation a "success" so I do not believe the "statistic" that the great majority are "successes." How do they know? Noone has ever asked US for our input into that statistic that is out there. What is their definition of "success?" Just because families do not or cannot oficially "disrupt" (that is difficult if not impossible in TX)does not mean that the situation is a "success." Please continue to educate.
RAD is a devastating diagnosis, I didn't realize what I was witnessing .When my step son was diagnosed 12 years ago his therapist apologized and told us to surrender him to CAS, she said his issues would be to big for us.She also was afraid that my infant son would be harm by this child.Anyhow, my husband sent his son to live with his RAD mother,(she has all the classic symptoms), she abandoned him and he is now a crown ward.I could never possibly imagine the damage that can be done as a result of emotional neglect ! He's been diagnosed as lacking empathy, he's also learning disabled , his math skills are that of a 8 year old. He lies constantly, steals, he's phony..,,, he makes creepy sexual comments.Childrens Aid wanted is to integrate him into our home, we tried, he can't stop his anti social behavior.We can play the blame game but realistically, this is a result of inter generational RAD. His mother lacks empathy as well as his grandmother . His half sister is showing signs as well as his half uncle.
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