RAD and sibling groups?
Now, I know that I'm looking far on down the road, and there are a lot of things that have to happen between now and then, but...it is looking like we will have the opportunity to adopt our DFS. The sad thing is, he is one of a sibling group of 4, and the other 3 kids are in a therapeutic placement. IF the case goes to adoption, I have pondered whether we would be able to take his youngest sibling - his 3yo sister.

Though I obviously know more about DFS, having lived with him for 6mos, I can tell that both kids have some attachment/trust issues (to be expected), but, of all of the kids, DFS and his sister are the MOST BONDED. He worries about her and she about him. During visits, they gravitate towards each other and are basically inseparable. The older two brothers, while they *try* to be protective, are basically outsiders. IF we were able to adopt any of DFS's siblings, I think the priority (from my perspective) would be to try to adopt his sister.

Now, after reading other threads, I'm terrified that, somewhere down the road, we will see RAD (or at least, serious attachment issues). I *know* they will have issues trusting and attaching to us. But, since they are so strongly attached to each other - genuine smiles & immediate relieve when they see each other, worry about each other when they are apart, etc - should I take that as a good sign, that they can attach to others, too - eventually? I mean real, honest attachments?

Please do not think that I would intentionally want to separate DFS from his siblings...but their needs (or, at least the needs of the older two) are very, very complex, and they will likely need to be only children, or adopted together as a group of 2. They have been abusive towards DFS and their sister and both of the younger siblings would probably be much better off in different placements. I'm just terrified about possibly requesting that the sister be placed with us, knowing relatively little about her (as compared to DFS)...and now finding out that RAD might not be apparent for YEARS.

Thoughts? Do you think I would *sense* RAD by now? Or, from what I have described, does it sound like a possibility (or not)?
I am VERY new to RAD parenting myself. We adopted a sib group of 3 ( 4,5,&6 at the time) They seemed very bonded to each other...fast forward 9 years... They still seem to have somewhat of a bond to each other but have not attached to DH or myself. We are just now getting a RAD dx. So I am interested in what seasoned RAD parents have to say also.
This is a hard question to answer, as it depends so strongly on the children involved.

My situation is very similar to what you are describing, except I have the oldest 2 kids from the sibling group of 4. The youngest 2 are placed together in a separate home. In our case, the FM had the 3rd child, as you do, and a few months later took the youngest (who was under 2), as well. She then tried to take the oldest, expecting to eventually have all 4, and ended up disrupting him because he was not safe to have around the younger 2. She never had the 2nd oldest placed with her. We ended up placed with the 2 oldest a few months later.

Honestly, of the 4 kids, the youngest has the most severe behavioral issues. He is one tough kid to deal with. And it was not necessarily immediately obvious, since he was so little when he was placed. I believe he has very severe RAD, though I do not know if he has been officially diagnosed. I did not get to see how the younger 2 behaved together before they were placed together, though, so it may be different from your situation.

For my 2 kids, I question how "bonded" they really are. In many ways, I wonder if they would have done better as only children, because having their sibling around has allowed them to maintain a "brothers vs. parents" mentality in many ways. They don't "need" to bond to us as long as they maintain their weird, kind-of-twisted "bond" with each other and their past. At the same time, they lost their biological parents and, for the most part, their other two siblings, so...
I'm very interested in this thread. We had the thought that if we adopted bonded siblings there was less of a chance of RAD. Is our assumption wrong?
My RADlet was separated from his siblings. All four of them went to different homes. This was long before we were even in the picture. I know he misses them but in some ways I think it has helped all of them heal.
I have adopted two separate sib sets of three. First three were ages 2,3 and 4 when they came home. 2 1/2 yrs later we are now getting dx of RAD on the youngest and middle child. The oldest was spared RAD I believe only because his autism prevents him from even realizing that someone was suppose to be taking care of him. The oldest is very connected to the middle child because, being only 11m apart, the middle became the caretaker. These two RADishes are mild to moderate. Yes I do feel that even though we are only now getting dx that they are beginning to attach...its early so we will see.

My second set were 11m, 3 (almost 4) and 7 at the time of placement. The oldest two came with RAD dx. 11m old got a RAD dx at the age of 2. The oldest was the caretaker and was very parentified. The 3 yr old was a rager, loved fire, punched and was cruel. The 7 year old is a master manipulator, couldn't tell you a favorite food, item or color if her life depended on it. Only will answer what she believes you want to here. She is just now starting to bond but boy is it a weak one. I fully expect her, at this point, to go back to her bio's at 18. I haven't ever had a true hug etc in 2 yrs. I don't expect one in the near future either. This week the 3 yr old is now starting to hug, true hugs Smile , and has been a peach. Hoping that he is healing and really doesn't have bi-polar (isn't that horrible that I feel that it could be a fluke that he is healing) The 2 yr old is healing but refuses to allow anyone to do anything for her. Survival of the fittest and I am glad she did but WOW she is a challenge. They have a very strong bond and come to each others defense often.

I am hoping that they can learn to bond with us but the reality is we are the parents and parents are scary and can't be trusted! Their sibs have always been there through thick and thin. The sibs have proven reliable. We have a long journey. I don't think I can honestly state that it does make a difference if they are bonded to the sibs. Only time will tell.
Adoption professionals are so focused on keeping sibs together - but so many times, that "bond" is trauma-based, and is NOT healthy.

We adopted a sib pair, and for the last six months, the oldest has been in residential treatment. And its ONLY been during this time that they've been able to start healing.
It really has to do with adults and caregivers, not so much other children. Any attachment is great but attachment to a sibling would not rule out RAD or prevent it's diagnosis and symptoms.
Hmmm.. Actually, I think attachment problems affect everybody in the childs life. Your attachment patterns affect how you relate to everybody, adn whilst parents bear the brunt of the childs deep issues...I don't think a truly RAD child would be any more attached to their siblings than their parents. Attachment is a transferable thing. That's why if a child is attached to a FP (actually properly attached) they can usually go on to attach to new parents. A child who is truly attached in a healthy way to a sibling probably does not have huge attachment problems. Later in life, people with RAD will usually find it almost inpossible to maintain a truly functionning relationship or healthy marriage, unless they've had some significant healing

The bond between siblings, is as wordsmither said, is often a trauma bond, not a true attachment. Which is why I believe all siblings should get an assessment before being adopted together/placed for adoption to ascertain how they relate and whhether they should truly be together
It has been very hard to bond individually with our toddlers. We had to literally break them apart in various ways to get them alone and try to work on attachment. The strong sibling bond is sometimes difficult to deal with and isn't always a healthy thing. Our kids are starting to come around but it has been hard.
Wow. I really hadn't expected so many worrisome replies. It always seems like the focus is on keeping siblings together...I didn't expect so many replies to focus on separating them so that they can heal.

DFS was neglected. I *know* that does not bode well for attachment issues (as with most problems that will land kids in foster care, I'm sure). That being said, he does actually seem to be attaching. He has real emotions - a lot of angry ones, but they are very real. He can be truly compassionate, and we get real hugs. He has recently said that he loves me. When he came, he was *perfect*...and then he rebelled. But, he also went from withdrawn, to SOOOOOO much more outgoing. So, it doesn't SEEM to be a pre-RAD honeymoon. A lot of the people with kids who are on the RAD spectrum (if it is a spectrum), say that their kids don't have favorites or preferences. DFS LOVES "Cars" (the movie), the color blue, and riding his bike. He HATES green beans. This is very different from everyone else in our family (he's not mimicking anyone - he's an individual in this stuff).

DFS is making a LOT of progress. Part of that may be his personality. But, I cannot overlook the possibility that part of it may be because he IS away from his siblings. He is with three other well-adjusted (comparatively!), well-bonded and well-loved kids - and he is turning into one of them. I do have an innate worry that, if we were to bring his sister into the equation, it might re-create an "us-vs-them" type survival situation. I desperately want to do what is best for him. I *know* we could not handle the older two - it is not even in my long-term planning to reunite them as a sibling group (if it goes to adoption). But I struggle with whether bringing his sister in would be the right thing to do - for either of them. She has a lot of needs, too. Perhaps it would be best for the four of them to be separated - if they are EVER REALLY going to heal...not just survive.
It's a hard one

It sounds like DFS is making good progress. I don't think it's possible to know what will actually happen if they are reunited...but I would honestly expect problems. It's a big adjustment, which often sets off issues..plus he will no longer be getting quite as much attention as he does now. The family dynamic will change....that will definitely have an affect on him, for better or worse. The same for her, probably on a bigger scale because the change is a lot bigger for her

I also think it's important to consider how long they actually lived together in their bio-family. Often siblings can do very well (although not always) when they are with a sibling they never lived with except in their adoptive family. I adopted GG's younger sibling when he was a young toddler. She had been with me a couple of years and had made great progress. However, she was not placed with any of her siblings she came into care with. It was felt they would not be able to heal living together. A large part of that is that they both have the same truama, they had a way of relating to each other when they lived together last time...they may well try to continue that. For instance, a child who was very parentified to a younger sib, might keep that going, and a lot more to that sib in particular than to any other child. Whereas if you introduce a new sibling they have never lived with, they are building the relationship from scratch, and therefore can be taught to build it in a healthy way (hopefully!)

So I would consider how they related to each other in the past, and if you do take his younger sib, prepare for them to do that again. I made my decision mostly with my head...but a part with my gut and heart. So listen to them as well as thinking very carefully about the other issues

Smile
Speaking as the spouse of a 'separated sibling', I'm not sure. I'm willing to be persuaded to either side of the fence, since I believe it hugely depends on each individual case.

Dh was placed into foster care with one sib, separated from four others at that point. Then a few years later he was separated from that one sib. I think that the first division from his bio family was traumatic, and I know that the division from his closest sib was almost devastating. He has issues to this day, and he's in his 50's now.

I think, though, that he's done very well. He truly loved his permanent foster family. That's good. He did learn to 'attach'. However.

There's "attached" and there's "attached". I think that many times we tell ourselves things like, "Kids are resilient!" or, "They are healed and attached now", or other things. All of these statements may be true, but the damage and the scars are still there. The hurt is still there. The ability to express love, to not fear 'risking' love and affection, is all impaired. The level of impairment varies, and I think in some ways 'healing from attachment disorder' is a life-long process, and there is a spectrum of healing.

My Dh loves me. I know this. He's committed to the covenant of our marriage. This does not mean that he finds it easy to share space, to give hugs, to do many of those reciprocal things that most married couples take for granted. Like telling me he's leaving and saying goodbye. Our newlywed years were tough!! I'd start looking around the house, find the car and Dh gone. He'd not even said a word. Being the sweet person that I am, I pitched a :hissy: a few times and told him he HAD to tell me when he was leaving. I made him kiss me goodbye. He humored me. LOL Now he does lots better with those things. BUT. We're still working through a lot of things. :D
Ours were adopted at 2, 3 and 4 and they had a strong bond to each other. My oldest and youngest started bonding to us after a year or so...and now it feels like they've always been here. My middle one, he is the one that displayed RAD tendencies since day one, still calls me by my first name and only cries at the thought of having to move and leave his brother and sister. I think often that it would help him heal if he was placed separately....after 4 years we still deal with his rages, communication issues, manipulations...etc daily and it really puts a strain on our relationship with our other children.

His attachment to them is truly a trauma based one, no question there. I just wished we'd known more about it before placement....although if we'd suggested separation at that point we probably would have lost the match all together.
carmen90 said...
A child who is truly attached in a healthy way to a sibling probably does not have huge attachment problems.


We can agree to disagree on this one, I based my opinion on therapy we've been through and the RAD children we've had. RAD is related to a child's CAREGIVER and the history of CARE. True, attachment can be transferred and all that, but whether or not a child is attached to a sibling or a pet or a favorite neighbor does not have a lot to do with how he can attach to the people he should trust to provide his basic needs.

For example, my RAD son was VERY attached to a foster child in our home for over two years. I worried the child's move would trigger my son. His therapist assured us it would NOT, it is a child, not an adult or caregiver leaving. I was not convinced. In the end, he was appropriately sad, it did not trigger any RAD behaviors.
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