Attachment Issues--Question for a friend

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tictoc, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. tictoc

    tictoc New Member

    Hi everyone,
    We have good friends who are having some issues with their daughter. I thought some of you might be able to offer some helpful information for them.

    Their daughter is now 7 years old. She became their foster child when she was 5 1/2 and they adopted her shortly after she turned 6. She has now been with them nearly two years. There have been some behavioral issues from the beginning and they are not resolving. They are working with a family therapist, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist and are starting various types of testing.

    When daughter first came to live with them, she was very, very loving...almost excessively so. From day one, she told them that she loves them. But, after a while, the parents felt like her expressions of affection seemed more like an act than real emotion. She shared very little information with them and said the same expressions of emotion every day in a kind of rote way.

    She started first grade shorty after the adoption became final and, for the first time, behavioral issues started to crop up at school. She was fine in the classroom, but on the playground became aggressive, sometimes hitting kids and one time throwing a kid on the ground and choking him. She appears to have no memory of the choking incident.

    At home, she goes between hot and cold. Some days, she is bubbly and happy. Most days, she barely speaks to her parents or older brother. Again, her expressions of emotion are in a monotone and are the same words every day (such as at bedtime).

    The parents are now getting a complete evaluation for daughter. Preliminarily, their team of people suspects ADHD, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Dissociative Disorder, and possibly more. The parents received very little information about daughter before they adopted her, but there seems to have been some abuse from the relatives who initially were her foster parents.

    So, my friends are wondering, is there hope? They are heartbroken that daughter is going through so much and that they can't connect with her. She is a very bright kid, excels academically, but can't sustain friendships and generally seems very detached from her life.

    I'm also going to post a question for these friends in the Sp Ed section.

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I've adopted older kids, and they all have certain attachment issues. It's not uncommon for them to say they love you when they haven't bonded yet as it is a way to get things from their happy new parents and these poor kids have learned how to survive. Was she exposed to alcohol or drugs before birth? Does your friend have psychiatric history on both sides of their child's genetic tree (birthmom/birthfather?). Those things also come into play.

    We were told 95 or mor %of foster kids were sexually abused either in foster care or at home, so that doesn't help and often the kids don't talk about that.

    I have no experience with successfully integrating a child with attachment disorder. Our most severely unattached child came to us at 11 was so dangerous that he had to leave (this child doesn't sound as bad). I do think that with the proper attachment therapy (have they tried it?) strides can be made. But it's different when you adopt an older child than an infant (I've done both).

    We also adopted a six year old from Hong Kong. He was the best kid all his life and tried very hard to love us. He is also a genuis and now a 30 year old millionaire. In the end, he married a hostile-toward-us woman and became EXTREMELY religious...such as no church I've ever been in...and we haven't seen him for four years. I think he tried very hard to love us.

    Our infant adopted kids are as attached as my one biological son is.

    I suggest she get her into some sort of attachment therapy right away. The earlier the better. There are no guarantees, but regular therapy just isn't enough for unattached children. I'd get a neuropsychologist evaluation first. Being detached can also be autistic spectrum disorder, which is more common with drug exposed children. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) looks a lot like Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), however she may also have a touch of both.

    I wish her all the luck on earth!
  3. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Appropriate attachment therapy is a must (nothing involving forced holding). Two books I might suggest are Parenting the Hurt Child & Parenting with Love & Logic. The love & logic works best with attachment disordered children.

    It's not uncommon, in fact, becoming more & more of a reality that foster children have some sort of attachment issue. The disorder ranges from attachment/adoption issues to full blown Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

    First, make sure that a complete evaluation is performed along with the stress/trauma portion of the psychiatric evaluation. It's not unlikely that there was some type of physical or sexual abuse in the previous foster home. Statistically, it's a given.

    Like MWM, I was given little to no info on what happened to my tweedles. The damage done was more than I could imagine on my worst day.

    It's important to get a grip on attachment issues early.

    Hope this helps though it's just the tip of the iceberg.