I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then. I wish that I had never had to make RAD choices.
I Wish That I Never had to Make RAD Choices.
We try to not think about it. We don’t talk about it (except, perhaps, with our spouse). Even the thought makes us feel like failures. We feel like traitors and betrayers when we consider it. But as we lay awake in bed, erroneously thinking that our spouse is sleeping soundly, we do think about it. Just like the person lying next to us, who thinks that we are sleeping, our minds are keen and active, weighing and segregating a thousand ramifications of an action we are considering. Then we shed RAD tears. RAD choices are tough choices.
I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then. I wish that I never had to make RAD choices.
Do we need to remove one of the children from our home? I really hope that you are disgusted with what I just suggested. I hope you’re shaking your head right now and that you are almost ready to click the red box with the X in the upper right-hand area of this window. That would mean that you can’t relate to what I’m talking about and that your child is not one who suffers from the most severe cases of Reactive Attachment Disorder. I wish I could return to a condition where I couldn’t relate. I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then. I wish that I never had to make RAD choices.
The oldest of my children who were adopted is the only one who caused me to consider RAD choices, like removing her from the home.
Reactive Attachment Disorder comes in many different flavors (none of them good) and with different behaviors, symptoms and intensities. Sometimes we just need to evaluate where we are in our journey through RAD parent emotions, or rethink our definition of success. But there are times when it’s more serious than that. Three of my nine children have been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The youngest one has a mild case and one of the middle ones has moderate symptoms. The oldest of my children who were adopted is the only one who caused me to consider RAD choices, like removing her from the home. The hardest part of such decisions is that the child suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder because parents or parent figures have not been faithful in the past. Our abandonment of the child will even further reduce the possibility of the child ever learning to attach to others. But with the most extreme cases of RAD, there are other things to consider.
For my family, my wife and I felt compelled to make RAD choices because of serious and unmanageable situations that any parent of a child with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder needs to consider.
I don’t mean we should consider things like how hard raising a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder is, how exhausted we are, or how much easier our lives were before such child joined us. These situations, while extremely frustrating, are manageable. For our family, my wife and I felt compelled to make RAD choices because of serious and unmanageable situations that any parent of a child with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder needs to consider. Are other children in our family being abused? Can that abuse be stopped while keeping the most damaged child in our home? Are people’s lives in danger? Is the child who suffers safe in our home? Or will she finally succeed with one of her attempts to put an end to everything, including the pain that accompanies having grown up as a child of trauma?
Because prosecuting our daughter would get her access to the institutional care that she needed, and nothing else would, that fact eliminated our other RAD choices.
Sometimes our RAD choices are extremely limited. Often, people representing the government flatly refuse to comply with laws, hiding behind their immunity status and knowledge that we can’t hold them accountable as individuals. We can only try to prosecute “the government,” which has no feelings, conscience or logic and which has access to unlimited resources in defeating us as we try to advocate for the rights of our children and family. When that happened to us, we were devastated. We felt hopeless. The director of our local Child Services office even told us that we couldn’t make Russia’s problems, his problems. Then he told us to send her back. Fortunately, a kind soul “in the system” secretly gave us another option. Our daughter had committed felonies. By prosecuting her, she would automatically be moved into the system and we would bypass those who were breaking laws and hiding behind immunity to stonewall us. Because prosecuting our daughter would get her access to the institutional care that she needed, and nothing else would, that fact eliminated our other RAD choices.
When it came to RAD choices, somehow, the wrong ones had been made unavailable to us and we were thrust into the one that was best for our daughter and for our family.
Of course prosecuting our daughter and having her sentenced to time in juvenile detention before being placed in institutional care set her back in her very limited progress. Just as she had always believed; parents couldn’t be trusted. In her eyes (understandably) we had betrayed her. The “kick in the teeth” was that we had to relinquish custody of our daughter to retain assistance in keeping her “in the system.” The mercy was that we were still treated like “mom and dad.” In our case, we were very fortunate. The system cared about what we thought about the best treatment for our daughter. They allowed us to be mom and dad on every level except on paper. With that mercy, we never missed an allowed visit while our daughter was in detention. When a bed in an appropriate facility eventually opened up, we continued with weekly visits and other contact. When it came to RAD choices, somehow, the wrong ones had been made unavailable to us and we were thrust into the one that was best for our daughter and for our family.
In our case, RAD choices turned out best when we were being treated the most unfairly; even illegally.
Eventually our daughter, who suffers from intellectual disability as well as several severe, trauma-induced disorders, was able to move from an institution type setting to a group home. She joined our family when she was fifteen and she is now twenty-three. Against all odds, she has been able to continue to be a valued and important member of our family. We still see her weekly and things have even advanced to where she can visit with the family in our home. In our case, RAD choices turned out best when we were being treated the most unfairly; even illegally.
I smile when I think about God taking away RAD choices until there was only one left, for us.
That’s the point I wanted to make, today. You have heard me say before that I am a person who struggles in matters of faith. Though I consider myself a believer, my faith is not unlimited, like my wife’s and many of the good people who read my writings. Even so, I have learned so much from watching my oldest daughter. If there’s one thing I’m confident of, it’s that there is an Eternal Papa, who loves his children. He loves the ones who suffer from the most extreme cases of Reactive Attachment Disorder (and every other challenge) and He loves the parents who work with them. I smile when I think about God taking away RAD choices until there was only one left, for us.
Every child who suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder is different. Every family that they participate in is different. No two people who parent these children are the same. The RAD choices and the right answers are so, so different. More often than not, these children need to remain in their homes, difficult as it can be. Sometimes they need to be moved to homes where being an only child gives them what they need. Sometimes the answer is a temporary placement where the child can receive the acute help that they need to be able to return to their families. There are cases like ours where the answer turns out to be a mixture of a new place to live, but continuation with the existing family. RAD choices are complicated. And that is why we need to let a Heavenly Papa stack the deck until the right situation for our own individual situation emerges.
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