My son, Daniel, came into our lives when he was 12 years old. After about a year, things still seemed a bit off with Daniel. He was semi-compliant but didn’t seem to wholeheartedly care about things and carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. When asking him to do the simplest of tasks, he would fight against it or do things the wrong way on purpose. He had been in 18 different foster homes, placed in three pre-adopt situations, and found it easier to just call everyone mom and dad, so that he didn’t need to learn their names.
It was getting to be crazy in my home and I didn’t like this kid anymore. I wanted him out. He would push my buttons on everything and even tried to be sexually inappropriate with my 11-year-old son, to see if he could get a rise out of me. Believe me, I was losing my mind. I became an angry person and all my child experience went right out the window. Who was this person I saw in the mirror every day?
We went through five therapists and fired them all. Finally, I went to a workshop and heard Dr. Becker-Weidman speak. I felt like he was living in my house, that he was a fly on the wall, and telling everyone what was going on in my home. To say the least, I set up an appointment to see him.
After a few testing sessions, he diagnosed Daniel as having Reactive Attachment Disorder. Finally, an answer, but now what? Our first three months of therapy were hard for me. This was totally different from what any of the conventional methods I had tried. He told me to stay out of Daniel’s school business and let the school handle that stuff. This was absurd to me. My child goes to private school, every teacher knows how dedicated and involved we are with our kids, now this Dr. is asking me to butt out? Well, after three months, I finally did exactly what I was told. Daniel would come home and try to engage me into a confrontation by telling me the bad grades he got or the behavior issues he had at school, it took everything in me to not react. It felt good to just say, “How sad for you Daniel, what are you going to do about it?” I thought he was going to hit the floor. He looked at me like I had three heads. That’s when I felt like I was getting my life back. Daniel’s therapy went quick. He was released after nine months and boy what a difference it made.
I will tell you that RAD therapy is a family affair. Everyone has to be on the same page, and we as parents, have a lot of homework that needs to be done to help our children heal. Sure there are days when I see him slip into old behaviors, when he is stressed, but now I have the skills and tools to refocus him.
Daniel is almost 16 now. He guest speaks with me from time to time and is being an average, hormonal, pain in the butt teenager. He is so attached to me, there are times I feel like he is glued to me, but I wouldn’t change a bit of it. He has come a long way. He has opened his heart to feel love and to enjoy what life has to offer. It saddens me to know that I had thought about disrupting this adoption 3 years ago.
My closing thoughts for the parents out there, no matter how experienced or unexperienced you are with adoption, child psychology, or what ever, if you feel that your therapist isn’t doing the job then look somewhere else. No matter what your caseworker says. You are the parent and it is your job to get answers and to get help. Network with other parents. Get educated and use the information. You are this child’s parent for the rest of his life.