9 yr old Oppositional Defiance Disorder with PTSD


New Member
Hi all,
I am an adoptive parent who is in the process of adopting a 9 yr old child with ODD and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have never experienced a child with this level of special needs and would like some insight from those of you with experiece in this area.
I know a little about ODD and we see a therapist with him every week. I have also ordered a few books from Amazon.com on the topic. I find that it is easier to learn something, when others have already been in your shoes.
It feels like every time I try to get him to settle down it reengerizes his will to argue and fight. It is like the worlds worst battlefield. I do not want to argue with him, but at the same time I want him to understand that the behavior that he is doing is inappropriate and cannot exist in my home. He yells and kicks doors. I know that this level of tantrum is to be expected. I knew this going into the adoption. I would like to hear some views on how to channel this young lads emotions and to help him understand that he cannot lose control. Also, is there a better alternative than time out for ODD children?

Javon, 9, is one of 3 brothers that we have brought into my home for adoption. His younger brothers are 6, and 4. All 3 have the same mother, but Javon has a different Father. Javon's mother did a lot of drugs while she was pregnant. To top that off, when he was 4, she decided that she could not handle Javon anymore and gave him and the next brother to her grandfather and step grandmother to raise. The grandmother would literally beat till he bled, Javon, for anything that he or Gregory did that irritated them. The youngest brother was born a few years later and we immediately placed in a foster home after Mom placed the baby with the grandparents. A neighbor had had enough and did not want to see anymore happen to the boys.

Javon can be a great kid, he does show affection, but how much is an act we do not know. We suspect much of it is. He is very defiant and anytime something does not go his way or he feels you are controlling him, he lashes out verbally and also physically. He does hit in the stomach and arm Gregory and Devin. Never in the face. He does do a lot of Parenting (trying to raise them, so that he feels the affection of the younger boys) to Greg and Thomas.


Well-Known Member
Wow, what a lucky boy, to have you adopt him, knowing full well what you're getting into! (I couldn't find a champagne toast ... this will have to do.)

This will be a long battle. (Excuse the expression.)
Did you order "The Defiant Child"? "The Explosive Child"?
I'm assuming he has ADHD too?
Several people here have experience with-PTSD and ODD ... I only have experience with-ADHD and ODD.
(In fact, I was just getting ready to post a rant, so you can see you're in the same boat!)

IF you could go back in and post a brief history, tell us his age, your age (if you want), how many people are in the family, any special needs you have, or special training, it would help us immensely.

Hats off to you!!!
I adopted but we chose a "healtlhy newborn." We didn't think we were equipped to deal with-a special needs child. As it turned out, he's ADHD, ODD and slightly Learning Disability (LD). Oh well.


Well-Known Member

I am assuming with the PTSD that this child was abused. Is he capable of showing affection?

You say you are in the process of adopting. Please be sure to have the adoption agency include respite, and follow up services as part of the adoption.


Well-Known Member
Have you adopted before so that you know what you're in for? Are you married? We adopted several times, a few times from foster care. You may want to do a signature like I did below.


New Member
Wow, you must always remember that you are doing a GREAT THING by taking in a kid with these kinds of special needs, and that you are probably EXACTLY what he needs in his life right now, someone who will parent him and love him, depsite his problems.

Our difficult child is my husband's daughter, but she only moved in with us in January, and so bringing a kid into our home like that was sort of like adopting for me... and she faces issues of Complex PTSD, Bipolar, and ODD.

One good thing, if treated properly, and a child is in a stable, positive environment long enough, most kids are resiliant enough to bounce back from the PTSD. The odd however, I am guessing would be attached to another condition that maybe has not been discovered yet. You can find information on all sorts of common "co-morbid" or co-existing conditions that can attach themselved to ODD. I don't know what kind of records they have on psychiatrist evaluations and things that he has been through in the past, but if you find them to be inadequate or incomplete or a little off, I would suggest you set him up to have a full-blown evaluation done right away so you can fully understand what you are dealing with, this will help you know what direction to take with parenting and how to handle things as they come up, and taking an active role in treatment will ensure that your child is getting the best possible psychiatric care that he can.

Again, hats off to you for taking this on, our difficult child's foster mother always told everyone that our difficult child was a PERFECT ANGEL because she was her first kid and she didn't want to "look bad to CPS", so we really had NO CLUE what we were in for, until about a week after she moved in. But we have adjusted and adapted, and although it took nearly 9 months, we have a solid set of house rules that we all can agree on, and most importantly, ones that difficult child is capable of following and WE are capable of enforcing. Remember, safety issues, such as violence towards self and others has to be TOP OF THE LIST 100% NON NEGOTIABLY NOT ALLOWED! Everything else will flow down from there, take one or two things at a time to work on and once he masters those, add a few more. You definitely should read the book. The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene, most people here will swear by it and it really is a GREAT tool for working with children that have the needs that ours do.

Best of all, you have US!!! There are always people here, day and night, to offer support, advice, or just to listen if you need to rant. Welcome, and I hope we can be there for you as you complete this process, and most of all, after difficult child shows up and you start dealing with it first-hand.


New Member
Honestly, I hope you've thought this through long and hard. Adopting a child out of infancy is risky. Adopting a child over 3 is even riskier. Even the lucky ones have a lot of emotional baggage. Not only do you have the genetic risks of bipolar, ADHD, etc. being higher than the norm, you have the behaviorial diagnoses -- ODD, CD, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). The statistics for failed adoptions of older children is phenomenly high. That being said, the rewards can be enormous.

Whatever you do, make sure you get the most complete history possible. Make sure you have as good of a diagnosis (and prognosis) as possible. You need both to make an informed decision. Adoption agencies are notorious for hiding as much as possible. They are even more notorious for leaving you with no resources once an adoption is finalized, especially if it is a state adoption. So, make sure you get everything in writing. Believe me, your son will need every resource available to you.

My daughter came to me when she was 3. She was an angry, unhappy little girl who had been severely neglected and abused. I was told about the neglect. The abuse was never mentioned. She raged for hours. She was violent to the point of being dangerous. I was told none of this. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint), I fell in love with her at first sight. Keeping her cost me a good marriage, a relationship with my family, the loss of several friends, a career with a six figure income to working at home with a quarter of my former income and no benefits, my financial future. I regret none of this but you need to be aware this can happen.

To me, the biggest problem is not bipolar or ODD or even CD but Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (reactive attachment disorder). I was fortunate that my daughter's Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was on the mild side. Even so, it required intensive therapy and, ultimately, a 14-month stay at an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) at a cost of $90,000. If your son has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), be prepared for a very long, hard battle that may well end up in a losing war. Don't think that your love will be enough to overcome the problems. It won't.

I don't mean to sound negative but the risks are so high that you need to do this with your eyes very wide open. Thinking and hoping that things will change because he is in a home where he will be loved and cherished is not the way it goes. He will test you non-stop to see if you will stick by him through thick and thin. Once you've passed one test, he will find another one and another one after that. (If you haven't done so, read "Adopting the Hurt Child" by Keck.)

There are great rewards in adopting an older child. There is the joy at the little successes. If you're lucky, you'll get a tremendous amount of love from him once he learns to trust you. I wish you the best.

I know you asked for help on specific behaviors and got a diatribe from me. Sorry. I've just seen the pain and havoc adopting an older child can do to a family. Worse yet, I've seen the pain the child goes through when the adults go into it blindly and then give up and abandon the child.

As to your questions, the simple answer is to quit arguing with him. Simply tell him this is what is expected and walk away. The more you get into it, the more he wins no matter what consequence you come up with. I learned that lesson the hard way. Give him a safe place to have his temper tantrums. If this means you strip his room, then do it. You can keep his "good" stuff in another room that he can access when he is behaving appropriately. If the tantrums are ODD-related, they will quit when they don't have the desired effect. It may take awhile since it is learned behavior that has worked but it can be unlearned. If they are because of something else, it may take medication.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Yes, Todd, I've done this times 2 (the tweedles dee & dum, adopted from an abusive/neglectful bio home).

I agree with meowbunny in that you are in for the ride of your life if your difficult child has had any abuse issues. Both of my children are diagnosis'd with severe Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), complex PTSD & bipolar.

We are in our 7th year; wm has had 2 Residential Treatment Center (RTC) placements & is currently in long term treament home. His twin sister is here at home but has been in Residential Treatment Center (RTC), along with several hospitalizations & many in home services.

Having said that, before you sign on the dotted line negotiate into your adoption agreement any services you feel you may need. Include in home wrap services, Residential Treatment Center (RTC) placement if necessary, make sure you have respite. If nothing else respite can get you through.

Consider going to an outside source for a full objective evaluation - a local university hospital is always a good option. They can target any adoptive issues along with any other disorders that may be mixed in here.

A time out never ever worked here. What has worked is a time in. That means that instead of sending difficult child away (another separation) that your difficult child would be at your side for an appropriate time. While at your side he would be joining in on any chore you may be working on or sitting quietly while you read the paper, whatever is going on.

I wasn't trying to dissuade or discourage you. Rather, I'd like to see you walk into this adoption with eyes wide open & with full knowledge of what you may be dealing with.

I love my children - they are the children of my heart.

Good luck on your adoption.



Well-Known Member
If you have younger children, also please be careful. We were told that over 95% of foster children were sexually abused somewhere in their lives. We adopted a little boy and the history and diagnosis on him was "a very nice boy with cognitive issues." He sexually abused our younger kids and killed animals in our home and the neighborhood and, after we called CPS and they took him away, he was charged with First Degree Sexual Assault on of a minor (he was a minor too). His new diagnosis became "Severe Reactive Attachment Disorder." My own personal advice is that if you have younger kids, don't adopt an older child because that puts THEM at risk. We never would have adopted this boy if we hadn't been told what a nice boy he was. His foster mom of five years before us hadn't known that he'd sexually abused her daycare kids--he was so sneaky and such a good actor and his psyschiatrists and psycologists never caught his deviances either. All I can say is, be prepared for possibly finding out that the child won't get better and may get worse and that love doesn't cure all. The children that we adopted at ages two and under have done great, but they had never been abused either. Dont expect regular discipline measures to work with this child, possibly not ever. I would join an adoptive parent group of children with special needs to make sure this is for you. It requires unconditional love on your part and the knowledge that the child may give you nothing back--and that no matter how good a parent you are, the child may already be too damaged to ever be "normal." If you are a single parent be prepared to have childcare issues. At any rate, good luck!