RAD: It’s what we have been doing


Sorry it has been so long since I’ve updated my blog. To be honest, things have been so hard and discouraging for us that I didn’t even know where to begin. We want to be honest about our adoption struggles without discouraging other families from ministering to orphans. For many months now we have felt we could not truly open up about what is going on in our home, and let me tell you that is very isolating. For my own mental and spiritual health, I have to start opening myself up. This is hard for me, so I am asking for grace. I am going to try to share some of what we are going through in a neutral way. I believe most of what is going on in our home is not my story to tell. I am going to attempt to only share my story, as a mother of a child with RAD. I pray this might help someone else struggling with a similar situation or might help you minister to someone in a similar situation. If you know a foster/adoptive family bless them, pray for them, love on them and be gracious to them. They may not be able to return the favor right now so be patient with them. Our friends and family have done this for us, and we will  forever be grateful. We could not walk the walk God has called us to walk without the people He has placed in our lives. Seriously, you know who you are, and I love you more than I could ever express in my strange introvert ways!

Now to explain RAD to you I am going to summarize and give you my take  on the topic from a recent video I watched that described our situation so well it was eerie.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is a mental illness where a child’s ability to attach to loving caregivers has been disrupted due to early neglect and trauma. Some doctors  will probably tell you RAD is rare, but if you talk to people in the real world dealing with foster and adopted children they will tell you it’s more common. There are degrees of attachment disorder. RAD is the severe end of this spectrum. If you are interested in adoption or foster care you need to educate yourself on attachment issues. They are very real and very hard.

These kids thrive on chaos and control. They will provoke you just to get a response from you. Where normally in parenting if a child acts out you address it and discipline your child. With an RAD child they will push and push and push until they evoke a response from you. The more upset you get over them and their behaviors the more they thrive and even relish in the fact that they won. They did it. They provoked a response from you. They created chaos in a peaceful home. They disrupted your day. Nothing will make them more giddy. They see authority and attachment as the enemy. Most of the time the majority of the hurt is directed at the mother.

20 potential symptoms or warning signs of RAD

20. Superficially engaging and charming – When you hug them it doesn’t feel real, because it’s not. They cannot submit to love and joy because this means they are making themselves vulnerable to one of those adults that will probably just abandon them again anyway.

19. Lack of eye contact on parents’ terms – that’s too intimate. They probably never had this as baby. Any attempts at intimacy make them very uncomfortable, even to the point of physical response.

18. Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers – You do everything you can to love this child at home, all the while they are doing all they can to push your buttons. Then when a stranger comes over they are the most charming child you could imagine. These people are not a threat of attachment. (Yeah, this is hard for the family to see and handle. It is very hard to explain to your other children how this child can be such a different person around strangers when they want nothing more than to feel that affection.)

17. Not affectionate on parents’ terms – They can turn the affection on when they want something or when they are in front of strangers but if the parents’ try they get nothing in return.

16. Destructive to self, others and material things

15. Cruelty to animals – These are wounded, hurt kids that get some relief from hurting others.

14. Lying about the obvious

13. Stealing

12. No Impulse Controls – When you ask, “Why did you just do that??” They respond, “I don’t know” And they really don’t. Something inside their brain is broken. They don’t know why they do the things they do.

11. Lack of conscience

10. Abnormal eating patterns – Eating at a table with a family is too intimate for them. They must disrupt the situation, create chaos and exercise control.

9. Poor peer relationships

8. Preoccupation with fire

7. Preoccupation with blood and gore

6. Preoccupation with bodily functions – oh, this one is hard!

5. Persistent nonsense questions and chatter – while these kids don’t want an intimate connection they do want your attention.

4. Non-stop demanding of attention – Attention vs. Attachment

3. Triangulation of adults – Since mom is usually the target, the days are hard, when dad comes home a completely different child emerges. This is tough! This made me feel like I was losing my mind! It was months before Joey saw any sign of the child the other kids and I saw during the day. This is a major marriage test!

2. False allegations of abuse

  1. Creating chaos – This is the goal of these children.

Please know that we do not agree with everything said in this video but most of it is right on point. The bottom line is…all adoptions come from a place of heart break. There is so much hurt involved and hurt people hurt people. Love on these families. Be patient with us. When I was working as a family and marriage therapist the first thing I learned was you NEVER know what is going on behind closed doors. Never judge people because you do not know what is really going on in their lives. Constantly dealing with 16 out of this 20 can make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. We believe in the sovereignty and provision of God and we press on.

If you would like to see the Wretched Network video of this program check out this link:



2 thoughts on “RAD: It’s what we have been doing

  1. angela says:

    I wrote this big ol comment then promptly lost it…suffice to say, I hear ya! I’m there. We have 2 RAD kids. Glad to find your blog

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