Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I have been putting off writing this post.  I have been really praying about how to write it…I want to be very honest when writing on this topic.  It is a topic many adoptive families hide or don’t share about because they feel embarrassed, when they should not feel this way at all.   (They see others bonding with their adoptive child and things are going so poorly with theirs with no end in sight).   It is a very hard, uncomfortable topic to face and talk about.  (There are overwhelming feelings of being a failure as a parent.)  Parents who are going thru RAD with their adopted child, also receive very harsh criticism by family and friends that don't live daily with this child and don't understand the harsh reality of it all.  As these children very often come across, out in public, as very charming and loving to everyone.  Also people going thru this don’t want to deter others from adopting by saying anything negative about the experience.  I have myself felt these heavy feelings and so many more.

Another reason why I wish to write this with great care is I want to be truthful but not mar Elizabeth’s name and character forever.   She is my daughter and I love her very much.   I always want to write in a truthful way that gives glory to God and encourages people.  Helps people and does not cause anyone pain, harm or sadness.  This includes things written about my family.  I want to write this in a way that when Elizabeth reads this, it will not make her feel badly, even though she knows exactly what we have been thru together.  (Her adoption and the years of struggles that have ensued, to try to become a happy bonded part of our family, has been excruciating at times.)  She has been the hardest child I have ever raised in my life.  Trust me, she sees and knows this.  We have all lived it.  We have talked very openly and honestly about it until there is just no more to say at times.  But…I also want her to know I see her.  I see where she is coming from.  Her struggles and how hard she is trying and working at bonding and controlling her behavior.

RAD is just as much a disability as Antonio with CP and William with autism.  It is just as hindering in so many areas.  That is something I tell myself all the time, so I don’t take anything Elizabeth does personally and can offer her grace or appropriate consequences and not over react.   I don’t know how anyone could walk this road without God’s constant help to lead and guide them thru.  God reminds me that this is her disability.  That the horrible things she has done and said we have done worse to Him.  That He is always ready to forgive and once we humbly ask, it is forgiven and forgotten.  (Not so easy for us humans to do!)  His mercy is new every morning.  That to walk this walk, we have to give these children a fresh start every day with a hug and smile on our face.  Be their biggest cheerleader.  Look for ways to set them up for success and remove the triggers that bring on melt downs and bad behavior when possible.   They need to have times when they feel like they have succeeded and did well, so they can be told they did great instead of always feeling like they are in trouble or are a failure constantly. It is a very delicate balance as most forms of behavior modification don't work with these kids.  As they are not bonded well.  Don't love or respect you like they should and really don't care what the consequences are for what they do.  They also act very impulsively.  So act there first reactive impulse in a situation and then don't understand the fall out from that action.

It is so important to always keep your game plan before your eyes. (Our “set tools”, consequences and ways of handling certain behavior.)  Because when things escalate you don’t want to over react and let any situation get out of control because of emotions.  Having a spouse step in to relieve is wonderful.  Or a person that can watch a child to give respite when needed is wonderful. (one who knows the RAD rules of bonding)  

We all want to be liked and loved.  We all want positive reciprocation for our generous and gracious efforts and love shown.  We all like to be treated well and talked to with respect.    We all want a deep bond with our children.  When these things don’t happen naturally from a child but the exact opposite is shown in our face moment after moment, day after day, week after week… one can become very weary and feel beaten down.  When traditional child rearing practices does not work for this child and everything you did to raise your other children makes this child explode, it is over whelming and hard.  When tantrums, emotional and sometimes physical struggles start from the time you start your day till when you fall into bed at night you just cry out to God and feel like giving up.   All of these things make you doubt you are doing the right thing for you and the other members of your family.  Make you feel badly about yourself to always be in a struggle with your child.  Make you feel like holding a grudge or protecting your heart.  But what actually needs to happen is the opposite.

Bonding, bonding, bonding time is essential.  Whether you feel like it or not.  Touch is so important.  Hugs when tolerated are a huge thing that has to happen many times in a day.  I know this sounds strange but especially, when going thru a tantrum or hard time.  I find I have less anger or am less upset if I take Elizabeth's hands and look into her eyes and speak softly to her when correcting her.  It melts my heart and brings me back to the mindset that this is her special need and disability and we need to work thru this together.  Speaking words of encouragement to her, complimenting her and speaking and showing my love, go a long way in making me feel better and stay more focused and helps her as well.   I notice the more attention I give her the less she seeks from others outside the family in an inappropriate way. 

I am not going to go into describing stories about what we have been thru.  What she has done and how we have handled it all.  I don’t wish for that to be out forever on the internet, for her sake.   I would not want my bad behavior from my childhood, teen years and life put out there for all to read now that I am saved, forgiven and grown.  All I can say is anyone who has raised or is raising a child with RAD KNOWS.  It is hard.  It goes on for years and years without end but is a worthy journey.  It is exhausting and brings out the worst in everyone in a home at times but after working thru things brings out the best as well.  That we have had to stay focused on God thru it all, to lead and guide us in raising her and trying to bond with her.   Tim and I are human.  Sometimes we are tired, battered and beat to the ground from dealing with it all and have had a very hard time with it all.  Other times we handled it all by the grace of God brilliantly. 

RAD will sift you out and show you who you really are and what you are really made of.  It will make you seek Gods help and direction like never before.  It will bring out feelings you never knew were in you and make you wonder and think if you have made the right decision in adopting this child.  BUT the key to overcoming is to seek God and not give up.  To seek respite and relief early on so as not to get burned out.   To hold the course.  To stay encouraged and keep going forward.   Because eventually,  your child will have a good afternoon or morning here and there.  Eventually, they will have a good day here and there.  Eventually, they will have a good WEEK!  Here and there… and here we are.  Never went a whole month yet.  :)  But look at the progress!  When I get discouraged, because we have been at this for 10 years…I look back and remember where we were and what we went thru and where the Lord has brought us to now.  I am humbled and grateful.
I feel like we have received…and I mean this…a miracle.  As I did not think we could hang in there.  I did not think we could do this… and we could not.  But God did it thru us, and now…Elizabeth is doing sooooo much better.  She hugs us and says she loves us.  She is controlling her bad language and is showing genuine love to her siblings. 

She is controlling her aggression when upset toward others.  She is maturing and being helpful around the house and being obedient most of the time. 

She goes several weeks without an issue but then has a few days that make it all fresh and real again.  I have seen her think and control herself when she could have, and used to, explode into a meltdown.  I see miraculous progress and I am grateful. 
I love her.  Tim and I love her very much.  We don’t always like her behavior.  But bottom line is, she is our daughter.   We made a forever commitment to her, as if she was born to us, when we adopted her.  We do not regret for one moment adopting her and walking the road we have walked.  God has used this whole experience to teach me so much more than I ever knew.  About me, family, bonding, our relationship with God.  I have learned and am closer to God thru it all as well. 

God is so good.  He blessed us with Elizabeth.  He is doing a good work in her and I know in my heart that she is going to be ok and do well in life.  She will have a wonderful testimony to share with the world someday about all the Lord has done for her.  From the miracles He has preformed concerning her health, heart, hearing loss and cerebral palsy, to her struggle to bond into a family that loves her and never gave up.   And how He helped her beat her negative behavior issues.  Elizabeth is worth it!
All the Glory to God!

Isaiah 43:19  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.


Psalm 3:3  But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.



  1. I had never heard of RAD before. I had to look it up. I am assuming you mean Reactive Attachment Disorder? That sort of seems to jive with your description of Elizabeth. I am sure it is a challenge, but it is to your credit that you keep trying. Hugs and prayers.

    1. Yes, Julie... I was referring to Reactive Attachment Disorder. I probably should have put that in there but also didn't want people to easily google that and have this post pop right up. It is not anything we are ashamed of. I just want to protect Elizabeth for in her future. I also did not link this to the huge blog that I normally would have for that same reason. God will bring along who this will help and encourage. As always you are so very kind to encourage us and thank you for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated. Hope your foot is healed up! Blessings!

  2. Replies
    1. Your welcome. It was not an easy post to write. Many blessings on you, your family and your adoption. :)