This is from www.families.com/blog. It's their work, not mine. But it's very important. Most of the time with birth children, bonding and attachment takes place naturally as mom or dad feeds, cares for and meets the baby's needs. The baby learns that mom and dad can be trusted to take care of them. Sometimes that attachment is broken by parents who do not meet their child's needs. It might be due to neglect, abuse or just their inability.
Attachment is super important in every single adoption. Some children learned to bond and attach to a caregiver before their adoptions, other have not. Some can transfer the attachment to a new family, others cannot.
A child doesn't have to have Reactive Attachment Disorder in order to have problems. There are different levels of attachment issues.
All adoptive children need to learn to trust their new mom or dad to meet their needs. Sometimes well meaning people can sabotage that. Same is true when it's a birth child with attachment issues.
I think the things below are important. Please take time to read them.
Reactive Attachment Disorder, RAD is one of those things other people don’t really notice. The reactive part is usually seen and felt the most by the primary caregiver–or the mom in most cases. What a RAD Mom needs the most is support from others in ways you may have never thought of.
1. A RAD Mom needs help teaching her child with Reactive Attachment Disorder that mom’s are in charge of taking good care of their children. And that their mom is a good mom who takes care of her children.
2. A RAD Mom needs friends who don’t hug her RAD Child. The best way to help a family dealing with a child who has reactive attachment disorder is to help the child learn to get his or her hugs for mom and dad. The same is true for other intimate things the child might want to do, like sit on laps or give you a neck rub.
3. A RAD Mom needs friends who can support how we respond to our child. No matter what the situation looks like the parents need to be considered the ones in charge especially when it comes to discipline.
4. A RAD Mom needs people who have suggestions, ideas or criticism to talk to us privately when our child is not around. Triangulation is a natural behavior for children with Reactive Attachment Disorder and questioning the parents in front of the child empowers the child.
5. A RAD Mom needs friends who don’t fall into the trap of hearing the child say, “I wish you were my mom, you are much better then the one I got.” Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder often shop for new, improved and better parents.
6. A RAD Mom needs an occasional hour to take a shower or paint her toe nails. A great way to be supportive to someone who is parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder is to offer her a break once in awhile. Even if it’s just to come over and supervise the child while mom gets a break.
7. A RAD Mom needs time alone with a RAD Dad. Often one of the most important things parents of children with emotional or mental health disorders are told they need is respite. Families who adopt children from the foster care system often receive adoption subsidy funds for respite care. RAD parents need a regular break, but they also need a respite provider who can deal with the issues of a special needs child.
8. A RAD Mom needs friends who can remind her about why and how it came about that she is the mother of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. We need to be reminded that our child came to us this way and that the best we can do is love the child and provide them with the best we can.
9. A RAD Mom needs to be reminded that many children with Reactive Attachment Disorder heal and become healthy adults. We need to remember what the goals are with our children and like other parents we need to hope for the best.
10. Most of all a RAD Mom needs friends. Parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder can be isolating and defeating. RAD mom’s often withdraw and feel alone. The number one thing we need is a friend willing to listen and maybe have coffee now and then.
If you know someone who is struggling with an adopted child, the best thing is to not side with the child, hug or comfort the child. You cannot know what the true situation is. Children with attachment disorders are very charming and manipulative. If you think you're reaching a child the parents can't or you think the child loves you more than the parents, you are being played. If the child hugs you, it's to hurt his parents. It's a game.
Thankfully, our twins are not showing signs of attachment issues. It doesn't mean that they won't later, but that for now they are okay. But we are very careful. There are places we don't let them go--like children's church-- because we know the teens who work there like to hug and hold the children. Fine for those with strong attachments to their parents. Not fine for our twins at this point. And even though we ask school personnel and church people not to hug and hold our twins, they do anyway. Everyone considers himself/herself an exception.
For now, Rick coaches the teams our twins are on. Starting next fall, he probably will not, but we will still be at practices to watch for inappropriate interactions with the coaches (we've had a lot of "butt grabbing" in the past).
I provide the kid's food. That's not to say they can't occasionally get a treat from someone else. But they only get hot lunch on rare occasions and I make sure they know I am paying the ladies to give them food because I am their mom and I take care of their needs. The lunch ladies were slipping them treats and they were unnaturally bonding to them.
But thank goodness the twins have not tried to mom swap or play the, "If I lived with you I just know I'd do better, be better, be happier etc". I have been through that before. And I've been through the tell adults whatever they want to hear or play on their sympathies by lying about not getting food or clothes or cool toys. Been there way too much.
All this to say, if you know an adoptive families who is struggling, be part of the solution, not the problem. And if you are going through this, don't be surprised if other's don't understand or take it all wrong. I gave a list like the above one, but dealing more with food issues to my "RAD's" teacher, and she turned it around to say we were trying to starve him into submission. Sigh.
So, if you feel like you're going crazy, leave a comment. If you've been there, leave a comment for those who are there now. If something has worked or not worked, please share. If you want to be nasty and critical, please go read a different blog : )