When we become adoptive parents, we know that there are no guarantees. However, most of us find it hard to imagine that our child will turn out drastically different from our vision. We might picture a physically healthy or athletic child, a smart or sweet child. Even if we have, for example, adopted a child with learning disabilities, we still create a certain picture in our minds.
My daughter, Hannah, was healthy, athletic, smart, . . . and had attachment disorder. It was the one disorder I didn’t want to deal with, the one disorder I was scared about. I didn’t know that Hannah had attachment disorder at first, and for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Maybe it was my first-time parenting abilities. Maybe it was her adjustment to life in America and being part of a family after having lived in a Russian orphanage. After much questioning, reading, research, and two therapists who didn’t help much, I finally recognized Hannah’s diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Initially, I was devastated. In time, however, I realized that this diagnosis was the key to getting her the therapy she needed to begin the healing process.
After one year of treatment, she is truly healing, and Hannah’s healing is a small miracle to watch. Before treatment, and even into the first few months of treatment, she was manipulative, controlling, defiant, and very violent towards me. Slowly, the roller coaster of healing began. Good days, horrible weeks, horrible days, good weeks. Now though, Hannah is not only responsible, respectful, and fun to be around, but she looks different. Her often scared and mean eyes have become sparkly and attentive. Her dark, drab clothes have given way to yellows, purples, and even pink! Hannah is proud of how hard she has worked and how much she has changed. And rightfully so. She has not only learned to change her behaviors, but also her thinking, and has learned to re-shape her views of herself and the world around her.
I never wanted to walk down this challenging road as a parent. The journey we have been on through reactive attachment disorder has been harder than I could have ever imagined. But, I’m thankful that I had the strength, conviction, and commitment to help Hannah heal. She’s a changed person, and I am too.