Saturday, June 14, 2008

My RAD Mom Suspicions about Over Diagnosis...a continued journey

We adopted Makala and Marty in 2003 and it didn't take six-months before I started hearing "People" suggest and imply that my beautiful five year old daughter must have Reactive Attachment Disorder - RAD. At that time of course, the people who were offering their "diagnosis"primarily did so over the Internet. Not one professional I took my daughter to see had jumped on the diagnosis which led me to suspect that RAD had to be one of those "new" things everyone thought they had. Or at least everyone thought an Adopted child must have.

I spent time on the Big Adoption website talking on the forum. Where other "RAD" parents told me I must be in denial...and another member a Dr. (I did confirm he is) brow-beat parents into believing their child would never heal without a Certain and Correct treatment. I watched other parents with adopted children who had some issue be told the same thing. And Worse, some were told if they didn't get the Correct treatment they either didn't LOVE their child or would be murdered one day by the child.

After some time of living in my "Denial" and apparently not loving my child enough to drive 200 miles and spend $2,000.00 in order to be instructed on how to HOLD her against her will and make her give up to my control I learned the reason that I had not been told by any of our professionals that my child might have RAD was that my state had passed some very strong guidelines.

Several children in the United States had died, or reported abuse as a result of the Cult-Like movement that parents and a few doctors and therapists had decided was the root of all evil in any adopted child. My state had mandated that Only Specially Certified people were to hand out RAD Diagnosis and only approved providers would be able to provide services.

About 14 months into the brain-washing and brow beating I was getting at the BIG Adoption website, my state announced that the first class of certified RAD and Attachment therapists had graduated from the program. I thought to myself, this must be why no one in real life said anything like the people on the Internet. So we signed right up with a member of the first class of certified providers.

Not to bore anyone with the details but, it turned out to be that I got the same feeling with that provider as I did the people screaming RAD all over the Big Adoption website. We attended therapy for several months, and frankly I saw no change in my daughter--but, a lot in myself.

I needed to become a controlling mother over every little thing... I needed my child to give up her own will and let me take charge of her life. I needed to make everything a big ordeal. Anything that wasn't perfect had to be her RAD. Anytime she said or did anything that wasn't MY WAY is must have been RAD... We finally left our sessions with this therapist when she decided that a RAD child should have two stray cats for pets. This therapists had gotten too old to be an Adopted Child Collector so she had moved on to be a Cat Foster Family.

When one of our cats died she suggested she might have cat just perfect to live in the home with a RAD child. It was female--I only like male cats but--who am I to pass up the perfect cat for a RAD Kid? When we met to get the cat, not one but two rescued stray cats were dumped in my hands to care for. One had never even been around people and I never actually touched that cat--one day I watched her sneak out the door and walk down the street never to be seen again. That left me wondering just how an Attachment Expert thought a wild cat that would run away could possibly be a great cat for a RAD kid?

All it taught my little girl is that things you love go away.

So, we quit. I couldn't see paying for treatment with someone who would just dump stray cats on their clients--let alone cats that would behave in a way that could not possible be healthy for a RAD child.

But, the label had been placed and the diagnosis was just about the only thing we had to help prove we were doing all we could to help our child overcome WHATEVER it was that was making her life so filled with RAGE and all the other Junk. When I was asked I would say she has Reactive Attachment Disorder... So it stuck through hospitalizations following horrible and scary events. Through Day Treatment for 14 months. Through more hospitalization and Residential Treatment in another state--RAD stuck on her.

It was Always RAD.

Records of my postings all over the Internet can clearly demonstrate that while I did see that she had attachment issues--I never accepted the fact that RAD was the Only thing that mattered for her needs. When I have said, "I think there is More..." I have been harshly reprimanded and told that Unless the RAD is Healed the other issues cannot be addressed. RAD must heal or the child cannot benefit from any other therapy, treatment or service. It is Life and Death to heal the RAD! Don't dare minimize this!

Once I was forced out of the Big Adoption Website (as most active members eventually have been) I was free from the constant input from a few people on a mission. One day I will write what I think the root of the mission these people are on is all about... But, for now I want to say I am so glad I got away from the environment where these people were permitted to practice medicine over the Internet and make diagnosis without the qualifications or even meeting my daughter.

I was not the ONLY parent feeling this whole RAD focus was going a little too far. When I left the BIG Adoption site several of us had been talking and several of us were feeling the same way. Another family I know spent $2,000 to see one of THE LEADING RAD experts... The mother was thrown on the floor and screamed at for 2 hours so that she might understand their Twist on Rage Reduction Therapy. Another family I knew was just about ready to give up on two little boys and disrupt their pre-adoptive placement all due to the hysteria of RAD and the fact that complete strangers decided they had the right to tell others their children were RAD.

It has been YEARS since I decided that MUCH of the stuff being forced on adoptive parents by a few professional Adopted Child Collectors ended in my life. I started my own first website in March of 2005 with the hope that other families might not step in the same Poop so many of us had.

It's been almost 2 years since my beautiful daughter was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder - FASD a Medical Disability that can only be diagnosed by an Actual Doctor not someone with a 4 year degree who thinks they know everything. I have learned so many things since I have come to understand that Brain Damage doesn't heal and that parenting a child with FASD the way the RAD Cult suggests will only bring on the secondary behaviors which just make the so called RAD look worse--or in reality only confirm RAD even more for all the know-it-alls who think parenting 9 "sick children" makes them the one who knows everything.

It took me several months to let the "B-word" control freak every RAD mom needs to be, disappear and for me to come back to the mom I really am, and the only kind of mom I ever want to be. Things are getting better for our daughter since we figured out that she IS NOT being RAD when she doesn't act Fast and Snappy--she is Processing and her Processing is often delayed. Very Delayed. Treating her like a RAD kid never helped and only made everything worse. Treating her like a child with a real medical condition that will never go away--has made everything completely different.

Our daughter has progressed ten times as much in the last year then she ever did for those nearly 5 years that I walked around with my RAD Glasses on! I feel better knowing that I don't have to stand around telling people how "Misunderstood" I am as a mother or that my child lives to make me look bad...or that she does things intentionally just because the is Reactive to Attaching to me. It has been nice to not belong to the "RAD Mom" club where I get to act like Hitler and then prove that my child's reaction to me is Part of RAD. It is so nice to no longer be a Martyr Mother.

Long story to get here, but today I was looking at different searches that have led readers to my blog and saw a listing just above the one to my blog... I clicked on it to read: This Blog

An interesting read on it's own, however I also noticed that the writer said, "I’ll admit that it feels awkward, as the Director of Marketing for the Attachment & Trauma Network, to write a blog that implies that RAD may be “overmarketed” in some circles."

Not recognizing the Who the Attachment and Trauma Network was I went ahead and clicked her link and found myself at a site I have often visited--looking for What On Earth there was on the site that made so many people Refer suspected RAD parents to it. Back in the day I think they actually did call themselves RADZebra. The 600 times I visited it I could hardly find anything of any real value. So I emailed them once about why all their pages had been "Under Construction" for the past 5 years... And if it was under construction for that long what was it that so many people saw important enough to refer adoptive families too?

I got an email back and it asked me to call them. I did and that was when I decided that the site wasn't anything all that important--Just a gateway to be verbally told that I was in denial and if I didn't get the Correct treatment for my child she would never heal.

When I visited it today--I noticed there has been some actual construction to the site. It looks like more people are involved and it appears they may have some information about Fetal Alcohol and RAD... But, alas I was disappointed because when I clicked on that Link it led to an "Under Construction" page...Again.

I am really not surprised as FASD and all the other names people call the damage caused to a child when their mother drinks before their birth has amazingly similar symptoms--behaviors and issues. The Attachment and Trauma website has apparently not been able to get anything that actually helps families dealing with FASD and RAD. I personally have my own feelings as to why the page sits blank year after year... I believe it is impossible for those who are on the RAD Bandwagon to come up with any possible way to Act Like a RAD mom and help and FASD child heal.

The approaches are completely different... What a RAD mom needs to be (according to the RAD Experts) only makes a FASD child worse! There isn't a lot that can be added to a page that conflicts with the websites standard ideas. It is also funny to me that FASD would even be classified in the same category as ADHD, Autism and RAD considering that FASD is the only one of these issues that is an actual MEDICAL condition and any diagnosis is Axis III not Axis I as all the other's are.

The only thing I wish now all these years later is that I had not believed the only chance my child had to heal was to become the thing that in the end hurt her the most and delayed her development.

***Disclaimer: I don't know much about the Attachment and Trauma Network because there has never been much published on their site. I don't know if they offer the kind of services that are not what I call "cult-like". They may be a fine group with great services and support. I personally didn't take the time to find out. If you find out more I would love to hear from you. I do know that they recommend Residential Treatment and that my state No Longer views Residential Treatment as a healthy way to manage child mental illness. There is NOT one single RTC center in the state of Washington... and I have NEVER been referred to Any of the associated businesses by any official of the state of Oregon or Washington, nor has any of the Level-3 Crisis Mental Health services we have received ever once suggested that this site would be a great place for information.


  1. I had a foster son who was diagnosed with RAD and ADHD and the professionals who dealt with our family gave us much of the same advice you have heard. We found out that he was actually missing an entire portion of his brain, his corpus callosum, because of prenatal exposure to alcohol.

    FASD is often misdiagnosed and far too many parents are beating their heads against walls trying to gain control and change behaviors. I feel much better knowing that I can't change brain damage but I can change my approach and increase my child's success and happiness as well as my own. I write a lot about FASD on my blog. Stop by sometime.

  2. Kari,

    Thank you for your comment and where more of us connect we may find we can at least inform some parents to LOOK before they just assume that RAD is the issus.

    I totally agree that with the Change of my own point of view our family has discovered a whole new dynamic!


  3. Been There/Done that8:09 PM

    I could have written almost the same thing. I can't post a thing on that forum for being told that my daughter is RAD and nothing else can happen if I don't find at attachment therapist. Yet, nobody can tell what one of these people will do.


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