Adoption

dealing with RAD diagnosis

I am very sad today. We were matched two months ago but had to wait to go over the Child Study Inventory because the psychologist was meeting with him and preparing her report.  His worker didn't know she had one more round of meetings.  The written evaluation still isn't done, but they decided to go forward with our meeting anyway.

Yesterday we had our meeting, and he was diagnosed with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).  The workers don't agree with the diagnosis, they hinted as much, but I don't know if I want to go forward. This is the diagnosis that from day one I dreaded and would never consider.  I put "will not consider" on our checklist and even went as far as to email a social worker last Sept. to ask her if many kids in her care had this disorder.

He'll be 15 at the time of the placement, and I don't know if there would be even be enough time for bonding and attaching.  It seems like he does have some of the qualities on the checklists; I see examples of superficial connections and lack of empathy.  For example, he doesn't care when he has consequences because he doesn't care if he gets in trouble, and there's a situation where he had two girlfriends and didn't even realize or care about hurting their feelings when they discovered what was going on.  I could go on and on at length about five or six issues that are giving me serious pause.  My husband has listened to my worries and is ok whether I decide to go forward or not.

I have read up on RAD, including innumerable stories of how horrible it is.  Right now, after an uneasy night of sleep I am leaning toward not going forward.  I feel terrible because it almost seems like this child has fewer issues than most, though he has plenty that I never thought I would ever consider accepting, and it almost seems like by saying "no" to him, we are basically giving up on any chance of having a child.

  He's been through the legal system and classified as a delinquent for stealing and running away.  There's also so-called "crazy lying" about matters big and small.  One of our major dealbreakers was cruelty to animals, and there were times when he lived with his birth mom five years ago that he was mean a few times to animals.

I just don't know.  Anyone ever been in a similar situation?

Romney-Portman 2012 ORGAN DONOR: DEAL WITH IT. :-) :-)

Re: dealing with RAD diagnosis

  • all i can say is to go with your heart.  You ultimately have to do what is right for you and your family.

    With that being said, i have never dealt with RAD in a teen.  we had a 2 year old foster daughter a few years ago that was diagnosed with it.  It was hard to deal with even at that young age.  She did do well in our home, and lots of the things we heard about her doing in her previous placement never happened with us.  We just tried to give her as much of a loving home as we could.  We considered adopting her, but had to put serious thought into how the RAD would play out for her as a teen and adult.  If she was having issues at 2 years old, what would the RAD look like ten to fifteen years later?

    We never got to delve much into adoption of her because her brother was in another foster home, and those foster parents decided they would take her too and adopt both of them.  We were happy to see her go to a stable, loving home because at the time we could not even fathom adopting two kids ages 2 and 5.  

    Anyways, I hope you are able to make your decision and have peace in doing so.  we are always here to help!

    Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie Premature Baby tickers Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker image
  • 15 is such a hard age as it is, but having the problems he has plus RAD (which is actually quite understandable in his case).

    Our oldest DS was diagnosed with RAD, but he was also 1 1/2 years old. Many say its quite hard to overcome RAD, but at the younger ages, I disagree. Using techniques I've learned in foster parent training, combined with love and trust, our DS is one of the most loving and "attached" children I've ever met!

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    Oh, Savannah! Your brothers are THAT bad!


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  • I am really thrilled for you that that worked.  It makes me happy for you and the child.

    I can't get past the age differential, though, between 1.5 and 15 and the fact that you had so much more time to attach and to mold his (sorry, I typed her first because of the picture)  behavior, which we will not have.  We're pretty much taking him as he comes with no chance to do the normal moral, intellectual, and behavioral molding that in my opinion MUST be done.

    I think at this point I'm getting a pretty strong sense that I should say no to this placement, or I will be on edge every moment that he's in the house.  I will never be able to relax.  The social worker even said something like, "You won't be able to leave your purse lying around."  Honestly, what kind of life is that?  I don't have lock boxes for every one of the possessions, not to mention the fact that I might have to tell my family and everybody whose home we enter, "Put everything away."  In good conscience I would have to do that.  This purse thing is of course just one example.  In the foster home the boy is in, he is NEVER unsupervised.

    The thing is, we have such a great life.  I don't know that I want it compromised or take the risk.  I found myself checking the ovulation calculator for the first time in awhile.   I think at the very least I might want to lower the age that I agreed to consider.  Right now it's 4-14. 

    Romney-Portman 2012 ORGAN DONOR: DEAL WITH IT. :-) :-)
  • image JulieFe:

    I am really thrilled for you that that worked.  It makes me happy for you and the child.

    I can't get past the age differential, though, between 1.5 and 15 and the fact that you had so much more time to attach and to mold his (sorry, I typed her first because of the picture)  behavior, which we will not have.  We're pretty much taking him as he comes with no chance to do the normal moral, intellectual, and behavioral molding that in my opinion MUST be done.

    I think at this point I'm getting a pretty strong sense that I should say no to this placement, or I will be on edge every moment that he's in the house.  I will never be able to relax.  The social worker even said something like, "You won't be able to leave your purse lying around."  Honestly, what kind of life is that?  I don't have lock boxes for every one of the possessions, not to mention the fact that I might have to tell my family and everybody whose home we enter, "Put everything away."  In good conscience I would have to do that.  This purse thing is of course just one example.  In the foster home the boy is in, he is NEVER unsupervised.

    The thing is, we have such a great life.  I don't know that I want it compromised or take the risk.  I found myself checking the ovulation calculator for the first time in awhile.   I think at the very least I might want to lower the age that I agreed to consider.  Right now it's 4-14. 

    That is the life of a foster parent.  At the agency I worked at we told all of our parents to do that, and to lock their bedrooms.  Some did, some didn't.  Some were robbed, some weren't.  As far as accepting the placement goes you have to decide for yourself what is best.  However, it sounds like you have a LOT of reservations/concerns about this child.  If you take him into your home and still have those feelings he will pick up on them which could cause problems.  You made your "will not tolerate" list for a reason so keep that in mind as you make your decision.  Good luck. 


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  • Julie, I've been thinking about you.  I'm sad to hear this news.  When I hadn't heard from you after our last exchange, I hoped it was because you were adjusting to life with your new son. :-(

    Listen, I've been exactly where you are now (except with a younger child).  There was a little girl we were head over heels for, but she showed warning signs for RAD.  It was heartbreaking, and I felt all the same feelings you describe of feeling that she was one of the "lesser hurt" children, and if we couldn't accept her, we likely were barking up the wrong tree with adoption.

    It was our doctor who turned my view around.  He assured us that there are families that not only adopt seriously hurt children and/or those with RAD, but actually seek them out, because they are therapeutic families and are trained and prepared to take these children in and help make them whole.  He emphasized that we shouldn't feel guilty for acknowledging and sticking to our limits, because it wouldn't do anyone any favors for us to adopt a child whom we were not prepared or able to appropriately parent.  We decided not to adopt the little girl, although I didn't really believe what the doctor had tried so hard to convince us of...until she was adopted a month or two later!

    I came to learn that what he said was true.  He evaluated her file and the risk factors, and gave us his prognosis for her.  He answered all our questions and helped us reach a decision on not just her case, but several others, and we ended up with our son, who is indeed a perfect match for our family.

    I shared some of our story with you before.  Even though my son does not have RAD, we did go through a very tumultuous adjustment period and it was not easy.  It was harder than I expected.  My husband says, "It wasn't harder than I expected, but it was every bit as hard as I feared it might be."

    I'm not saying these things to scare you off, but to let you know that you have to trust your gut.  I know you've done your research.  If you think this may be more than you can handle, there's a good chance it will be.  Please don't make a choice because you think it's what's best for this child or for society as a whole if you are hesitant that it's the best thing for your family or if you can meet his needs.  According to what you wrote, this boy is showing several very real flags of RAD.  The lying and lack of remorse are the two most alarming I see.  Please seriously consider if bringing this child into your lives is what's best for your family going forward.

    I know it's heartbreaking to think about walking away, but if it really is what's best for your family, take heart in that it may be what's best for this child as well.

    We're here to offer you as much support as possible.  If you'd like the contact information for the doctor that helped us in evaluating files, I'd be more than happy to share it.  He's amazing, and charges one fee and will work with you until you find the right child for your family (one of the first things he told me is that he understood that it often takes looking at many files to find the right match).


  • image JulieFe:

    I am really thrilled for you that that worked.  It makes me happy for you and the child.

    I can't get past the age differential, though, between 1.5 and 15 and the fact that you had so much more time to attach and to mold his (sorry, I typed her first because of the picture)  behavior, which we will not have.  We're pretty much taking him as he comes with no chance to do the normal moral, intellectual, and behavioral molding that in my opinion MUST be done.

    I think at this point I'm getting a pretty strong sense that I should say no to this placement, or I will be on edge every moment that he's in the house.  I will never be able to relax.  The social worker even said something like, "You won't be able to leave your purse lying around."  Honestly, what kind of life is that?  I don't have lock boxes for every one of the possessions, not to mention the fact that I might have to tell my family and everybody whose home we enter, "Put everything away."  In good conscience I would have to do that.  This purse thing is of course just one example.  In the foster home the boy is in, he is NEVER unsupervised.

    The thing is, we have such a great life.  I don't know that I want it compromised or take the risk.  I found myself checking the ovulation calculator for the first time in awhile.   I think at the very least I might want to lower the age that I agreed to consider.  Right now it's 4-14. 

    I wasn't comparing the two (toddler and teenager) as I said to begin with in my first sentence - 15 is such a tough age as it is. 

     

    THAT being said - you need to do what's right for you. I wouldn't accept if the CW told me I can't leave my purse out. While I believe that at ANY age a child can be changed with LOVE and PATIENCE, if you don't feel safe with even that one example, I'd seriously consider not accepting. I do not tolerate animal cruelty either and one a placement we had kicked at our dog, I called immediately and had him and his brother removed (and with a few other things he had done leading up to it).

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    Oh, Savannah! Your brothers are THAT bad!


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  • image JulieFe:

    The thing is, we have such a great life.  I don't know that I want it compromised or take the risk.  I found myself checking the ovulation calculator for the first time in awhile.   I think at the very least I might want to lower the age that I agreed to consider.  Right now it's 4-14. 

    There is nothing wrong with feeling this way.  You want a child to add to your life.  You do not need to "save a child" in the process.  There's nothing wrong with sticking to restrictions that are designed to help you bring a child into your home that will add to your happiness and not require a lot of extra therapy or treatment just to have a "normal" life.

    Do not feel guilty about this.  This is normal, and perfectly acceptable.

    There's a reason why, when you start this process, you are urged to research and come up with a list of "acceptable situations."  And, there's a reason that many people change their list the longer they are involved in the process and the more they are exposed to.  In some situations, people become more open, in others, they restrict their list.  It's all part of the process, and it's a very important piece of the puzzle, designed to help you find a match that works for everyone involved.

    Personally, my husband and I found this the hardest part of adoption, and we started out with the hopes of offering a home to a child that might not otherwise get that chance.  Yet, even with our "restrictions," we feel we did exactly that--and children we felt bad about not pursuing found homes, too.

    Honestly, I know it sucks, but it is just part of the process.  There will be a child that you feel comfortable bringing into your family that will need you to do so; and you will know it's right when it you find him/her.  I can't help but believe that the fact that you are so torn up about this is your gut screaming to tell you this doesn't feel right.


  • Thank you so much, everybody.  We are going to decline the placement today or tomorrow.  I'm just waiting for my husband to get home so that we can have a final conversation about it.

    I can't remember the name of the poster with the 1.5 year old, I'm sorry, but I was absolutely not contradicting you in a mean way.  I was responding to you to show that I did read your post.  If it came out wrong, it wasn't meant to.  I was just responding to what you brought up.

    I think that my steps from here are twofold: declining the placement, which I think will bring me a big sense of relief, then adjusting our age range from 4-14 to 4-9 or 10, a younger age where there's more time to bond, attach, and help with the development.

     

    Romney-Portman 2012 ORGAN DONOR: DEAL WITH IT. :-) :-)
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  • I would trust a diagnosis made by a psychologist over social workers who don't agree simply based on their own observations. 

    If you don't feel equipped to deal with an older child with RAD, then I think the right thing is to walk away, even if it hurts.  Parenting this child will most likely be extremely challenging, and the child deserves parents who are 100% up to that challenge.  This statement is not meant at all as a negative reflection on you.  I wouldn't feel equipped to adopt a well adjusted 15 year old, much less a teenager with RAD.  I think the best thing you can do is pray that adoptive parents are found who are able to provide the child with what he needs.

     

  • I think that RAD is one of the hardest things you could ever deal with. we had friends who adopted a little boy (11) with RAD; they had known him for about 2.5 yrs bc she was his SW, then they adopted and he was with them almost a year. he just never ever attached. he was very difficult, ran away all the time, physically violent toward them because he had no concern for their well being. they quickly realized that while he was in their home it would never be possible to bring another child into the family. 

    he was foster to adopt, and they had not finalized yet, when one day he just said he was leaving. he told his SW that if she didn't call for a transfer he would run away over and over until they put him in juvie. when he was packing, he wouldn't even look my friends in the eye. then he left, without a word. he had friends, cousins, grandparents and he didn't ask to call any of them or tell my friends to tell them goodbye; he would not have even told my friends goodbye if they hadn't followed him out and called him back. after all that time; he acted so happy sometimes, he hadn't bonded with anyone at all.

     

    I would not fault you one bit for passing on this one; you know in your gut what you should do; don't second guess yourself. I know it is hard to pass up a kiddo who needs help, but it's also hard to take one in and have them make your home a battle zone. thoughts and many prayers to you!!!  




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