Hope Is Not My Friend

Parenting a child with RAD can make you feel hopeless.

Sonia Billadeau April 15, 2014
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hopeAt my son’s soccer game this morning, I looked around at all the non-RAD kids having fun, laughing, and looking like they felt very safe and happy with their parents. At the RAD support group last night, a woman who had raised three biological children before she adopted two RAD kids said that each RAD kid was equivalent to 20 of her biologicals. So she felt like she was raising 40 kids at once. Since we have three RAD siblings, she laughed and said it was like we were raising 60 kids at once. Her RAD kids are now grown and out of the house so she can afford to laugh. We are still very much in the trenches.

I want to take my kids to the state fair today. That’s what families do, I think. But instead, each kid is in a different bathroom writing an essay about the feelings underneath their latest acting out episode. They had all been doing so well until school started, and now they are all in free-fall. The counselor and horse therapist both act excited about this and say it’s a good sign. I’m so bleary from it all I don’t care.

There is nothing more helpless than watching my children drown and refuse to reach out for the life preserver I throw them. My oldest two in particular cannot handle success. We had handled everything with my sixteen-year-old son’s Chemistry teacher, moved my son’s seat to the front row, and committed to having him in the class half an hour before school starts to get extra help. That lasted one day. On Friday my husband got up half an hour early to take my son for the extra help, and Gavin never made it to class. Then he lied and said he had gone but had forgotten to turn in his work. Once again, he has to work so much harder to fail. It’s like falling downhill to succeed but he works harder at failing than he works at anything else. He just can’t handle the success.

He’s obviously thinking about the guardianship we discussed because today he asked me if it had to last forever. I explained that it could be revoked anytime he was responsible enough to handle his own life. I had never considered that temporary guardianship might sound reassuring to him. He is so paralyzed by his fear. And for him to realize that we will protect him legally, forever if necessary, but that he can take over control of his life anytime he’s ready seems to have calmed him down quite a bit.

We had a family meeting today post-acting-out episodes and pre-bathroom-essay phase. I hate to maintain even a scintilla of hope going forward because it just seems to get dashed over and over, but if I’m brutally honest with myself, I still see progress. The fact that at least two of the three didn’t fight having to write the essay in the bathroom. One of the three apologized without being prompted. They all three indicate in almost every essay that it helps them and calms them to write about their feelings. That my daughter had three count’em three good days before this latest implosion. That their essays are increasingly insightful, like my nine-year-old son’s latest essay where he tells me, “I hate you for everything she (birthmom) did to me.”

As we ended the meeting and sent them off to write their essays, my oldest son asked if we could have a prayer. At the support group last night, the parents were talking about how spiritual a lot of these RAD kids. We told my son that was a great idea, and I prayed for the family, holding up each child in turn for the special blessings they needed and thanking Heavenly Father for the chance to learn and grow together as a family. I’m touched that my son thought of it. It gives me more of that dreaded hope, and I need it.

Photo credit: www.ruthannereid.com/hope2.jpg

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Sonia Billadeau


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