I need a little help


New Member
Please understand this is my first time here. I hope I'm doing this right.

I have 1 difficult child 11 y.o. CD/ADHD he is on 40mg Ritalin LA. We have tried Concerta, Stratera, Anti-Depressants and anti-psychotics.

We adopted him when he was one month away from 6. The first 6 months was wonderful. The last 4 1/2 years have been hell. I'm at my end. My husband was at his end a year ago and wanted to give him back to the state.

My difficult child has been kicked out of every local daycare. He would have been kicked out of school except for his IEP. About 6 months ago he was released from a 6 month program at a day treatment facility. We have seen 5 different P-DR's and they have all given him different diagnosis. We have also tried neuro feedback. We have in-home therapy once a week. We are holding him back for 5th grade again this year. I have found a new school with a staff that says they are willing to work with us. But I'm worried sick that he will act up again. It has come to the point that everyone including his therapist is telling us that we need to start checking into 24 hour care (boys ranch/returning him to the state). Earlier this year I quit my job because the constant phone calls from school and daycare, along with the appointments with doctors and therapists and missing work because I had no one that would watch my difficult child became more than both my employer and I could handle.

This summer has been hard. I'm at the end of my rope. I have lost all hope and my heart is breaking. My husband is so worried about my mental and physical health that he says one more issue and the difficult child is gone. My husband gave up on our difficult child awhile ago. It is almost as if he has mourned the loss of a child and views this little boy as an outsider. They never really bonded. My husband would be fine if it was back to being just the two of us. I feel horrible for saying this but, more and more I wish that too. But then I feel like a dirt bag that started out to do something good and messed it all up. We took this unwanted child into our home for 5 years. Loved him no matter what he did. Got him all the help we could find, and he still has no connection with us. He has no bond, or love or caring. He maculates every situation. He is sweet kind and loving to other adults, gets them to pay attention to him and lures them in, and then he tells half truths about my husband and I leaving them to think we abuse him. Then after they spend time with him his act wears off and they come back to us and tell us what happened and they can't believe they thought so badly of us. He has no remorse no guilt and knows every button to push. Recently he has been making him self throw up and has learned how to pick his nose just right to make it bleed like a fountain. He did this on the way to his friend’s house and played into it to make his friend’s parents think we hit him and gave him a bloody nose. He acted like that was what happened with out actually saying the words. I'm afraid of what my child can do. I feel guilty for even thinking about putting him in a boy’s ranch or turning him back into the state. But I honestly don't know how much more I can take.

All of our close friends and family have seen our difficult child at his worst. They all say he needs to be placed in a 24/7 treatment facility. They have all but asked us not to bring him with us to family get togethers. The problem with that is we don't have anyone that will watch him for us. I have no breaks. No one that can even watch him for a couple of hours. It’s because he does what he wants to do when and how he wants to do it. If he is forced to do something he doesn't want to do, something of great value will be "accidentally" broken or damaged beyond repair, or he will "accidentally" hurt him self.. I.E. trip and fall down the stairs, run into a door and say he didn't see it, hit his head on the counter saying that he bent over and didn't realize the counter was there. He has given himself several black eyes and bloody noses doing these things.

He rages just to the point when I'm ready to take him to the hospital then can calm him self down in a split second and say "mommy, I love you, I'm sorry". But the words are empty and only a manipulation. Because, about the time I calm down he is back to doing what he wants and I'm stuck with having to make him do what I told him to do in the first place that started the rage. (I have gone ahead and taken him anyway. Only to be turned down because he was in complete control by the time we got there)

My difficult child has got my number, he knows how far to take it. He knows all the right words to say to the therapists. 6 months in day treatment and he had them eating out of his hand. Telling me they didn't think he needed to be there from day one.

I guess I just need to vent and get support. I need to know that I'm not alone. My heart is breaking, my husband has given up and only interacts with our difficult child at dinner time or when he sees that I'm at my end then he will step in and talk to our difficult child about his behavior, because he doesn't know what else to do to help the situation. He has tried to spend one on one time with our difficult child, but most of those outings turned out to be nightmares.

I'm sorry for the book I wrote. I just had to get it all out.



Active Member
Hi Jen and welcome.

Don't feel bad for feeling the way you do - you've poured a lot of effort into this kid but everyone has their breaking point.

I do wonder about what has been going on in the lives of a lot of these children, before they get to a 'real' family. Some kids work out well, some don't.

My best friend when I was growing up had an adopted little brother, adopted when he was about 6. They did everything they could for him. His adoptive mother was a school principal, she spent a lot of time with him tutoring him, teaching him to read. They sent him to the best private schools but he still ended up as a problem. I think things would have been a lot worse for him if it hadn't been for his adoptive family.

My sister adopted two kids - both less than a year old when she got them, but still major problems. One has worked out (mostly) and the other did not. But again, he would have been much worse off without the support he got. He is still in his adoptive mother's life and trying to make the best of his life despite a lot of setbacks, including jail time.

With my best friend, I think his adoptive parents officially disowned him, although they still kept a lookout for what he got up to. He basically hit his teens and became a HUGE problem. A lot of it was, I'm sure, caught up in his origins, how he'd been treated, his first few disruptive years, etc. We also found with my sister, that what we get told, and what turns out to be the truth, are often miles apart. My sister's adopted daughter was supposed to have been an abused, neglected child, taken from her natural parents for serious neglect. Certainly there were signposts in the baby's behaviour (she would only drink her bottle if it was cold and she wasn't being held by anyone). She had been in and out of hospital with malnutrition, we were told.

But now the little girl is grown up with children of her own, AND a degree in child care, she suddenly found herself in trouble with Children's Services and almost lost her baby girl when the little one failed to thrive and developed feeding problems. Despite the mother's training (in this case) she nearly lost her own kids, as she was taken from her own mother.

What is the truth of a child's origins? What is their background? What's the family history? Sometimes it's so misunderstood or misrepresented that you are left totally in the dark, trying to second-guess what will happen next.

At 11 you will be at the early stages of testosterone kicking in and causing more trouble. If you can't get on top of this fast, you've lost. And can you succeed? I don't know. What more can you do?

Others may have better ideas, I have only one suggestion. Grab a copy of "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene and read it. There is some discussion of this book in our Early Childhood forum, to get you started. or you can check out the website for the book. But get some sort of idea for it, fast. It may not be enough to help you, but you never know - it might. It shows a different way to handle difficult kids. Because if what you're doing isn't working, it makes no difference if that method was fine for you or husband - you need to change to something that CAN work.

I don't know if it will help, all I know is it could be worth a try.

And if, after all you've done, you still find you can't get through to him, at least you will know you really tried hard.

There are parents here who have been/are going through what you have been, and it's NOT always an adopted child. And even THEY find themselves looking for some form of 24/7 care.

So don't feel guilty, don't blame yourselves. Who knows why this is so? Blame always gets in the way and slows down your responses. All you can do is your best. Don't expect more from yourself than that.

It's the middle of the night for most people here, once sunrise kicks in you should get some more responses.

Keep us posted on how you go!



Active Member
Hi Jen,

I'm glad you found us. What a long and hard struggle you have had.

I'm not sure where it is in our link section but there is a disorder called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (Reactive Attachment Disorder) that you may want to research. There are several parents on our forum that are familiar with this and hopefully one of them might catch this. Obviously we don't diagnose here but I wanted to point it out in case professionals haven't brought up this possibility before.

I know that this is hard to hear as a mother but children who do reach this point without improvement usually do need higher levels of treatment and supervision than parents can provide at home. This has nothing to do with your parenting--it has to do with a child who has issues so severe in their life that a parent's love isn't enough to solve them. Residentials also give parent the break they need. We are meant to be parents to our children--not therapists, doctors, nurses, counselors, etc, etc, etc--and residential situations can help a parent become a parent again. Many of our families have had positive experiences.

Hopefully you are getting some help for you? This is an incredible load for a person to bear.


Well-Known Member
Oh Jen - many hugs to you. I am sorry your dream has not come true.

We had an essay called 'Welcome to Holland' that I thought of while reading your post, but I can not find it yet. I will keep trying.

I was also thinking Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) - something to look into. For sure find a specialist in that area. Is the adoption agency supporting you in any way? Services? Funding? Anything? If not, contact them to help now. Even if they can provide respite care on weekends - at least you will get a break.


New Member
Thanks for the quick replies and the support. I have checked out Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and in the past we have talked to P-DR about this disorder. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and All forums of Autism has been rule out however Attachment Disorder has been indicated. But the main focus has been the CD, ODD and ADHD. It got the point at his day treatment facility that the Administrator said "Let's not worry about the labels, let's just work on the biggest problems". Yeah, that worked! (I'm a little bitter about this). They are the ones that after 6 months told me they didn't feel he should have been there from day one. (he had them snowed, he can and will be on his best behavior when he knows someone else is watching)

At one point every time he started to rage I would grab the video camera and start taping. He would turn into the perfect little boy the minute the red light came on. It amazes me that he can turn it on and off with the push of a button. I wish his class room had a video camera then maybe he would "perform" well in class. He is extremely intelligent.

He scores at an 11th grade level on his standardized tests. But he refuses to do the class work and misses out on the small details. I don't understand how he can score so high on the tests but can't sit down with a pencil and write a paragraph. He can't construct a proper sentence. His hand writing was at a 2nd grade level and the school refused to teach him cursive. They are still having him write in print and they have put into his IEP that he can give verbal answers or use a computer to type his answers.

At home, I have worked with him and he can print and write in cursive properly. But at school he refuses to do this because he now knows that he doesn't have to. He knows that if he just scribbles in the space his teacher will take him aside and give him the work verbally and he gets extra one on one time with the teacher. I tried to explain what he was doing to the teachers but they told me it is easier to send him to his Learning Disability (LD) class and have that teacher go over his work with him and grade it. He is going to a different school this year and I hope we work out a better arrangement. I don't feel that taking the "easy" way out is right. I don't feel that it is teaching him to be a better person. I feel that it is teaching him a better way to manipulate people.

Okay, I got on another soap box. We are going to meet the teacher today and I'm worried sick about how it will turn out. I couldn't even sleep last night because of how worried I am about this new school. IF it doesn’t work out then he will have to go to a 24/7 care facility. This is our last chance. Should I hope that he "performs" well? I just don't know who my real kid is anymore. I think I catch pieces of him every now and then but then it's gone. I know inside my little boy is a sweet caring and empathic person. I have to believe that. I have to believe that all humans are good at heart. IF not it would break mine.

Thanks again for the support,


New Member
We adopted from the Department of Human Services. They do offer Respite care, but all they do is send the child to a foster home for the weekend. I can't do that to him. I can't send him to a strangers house for the weekend. I would worry more than relax. But thank you for posting. It's nice to know I'm not alone.



Active Member
There are a number of families here that have used respite care at foster families with good results.


Active Member
You might want to look into Aspergers and certain learning disorders. Our oldest tested extremely high academically and intellectually, but writes like a 4 year old. He's now in 4th grade we just had a neuropsychologist done, (we got a verbal diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome, but not the formal results) and now they're going to test him for a variety of read/write disorders.

I'm not saying that's what's going on with you (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), ODD, ADHD) but ours had tentative diagnosis of ODD and ADHD until it turned out that those developed as defense mechanisms due to the Aspergers. I sometimes feel that I'm the dr. when I go through this with his teachers every year!

Have you gotten a neuropsychologist done? I learned about those on the board - this is a really great group of people - they are the best group I've ever had the pleasure to know!

Good luck!


New Member
That is good to know. I'm a former foster kid myself. I didn’t have a good experience so I'm a little afraid of the thought. I will think on it and ask around.


New Member
I will check on the neuropsychologist.(never heard of it) I have talked to his DR about Aspergers and it was ruled out. He has some but not enough of the symptoms.


Well-Known Member
We adopted six kids, three from Human Resources. Two are gone. One was eleven years old and so messed up that he was sexually abusing my little ones and killed our dog, along with other things. The other little boy was adopted after him and, at the time, we weren't sure if he was also part of the abuse so we asked that they both be taken to a hospital to sort it out. Then they put THAT child (it turned out he had been a victim of the eleven year old too) in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and then foster care. He ended up out of our home longer than he'd been in it, and bonded to his new foster family, so we let him go. The other one was too dangerous to have at home. We haven't seen him since--he was eleven when he came and had NO diagnosis, was known as a great kid. He fooled us for three years and his foster mother before us for five years. NOBODY suspected. The foster mom before us had her own Day Care and he used to like to "help" her with the kids. She fell apart when she found out that this boy, whom she'd loved, had abused her daycare kids.
My guess is they will never know why your child is the way he is. WIth kids from "the system" there are so many variables that they don't know about. Our info on our kids was never complete. You don't know if the birthmother abused alcohol so badly that the child is affected by alcohol. In that case, kids who are Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) don't understand right from wrong, and need almost constant care to keep out of trouble. They usually have attachment issues by age six--and it doesn't help that your hub hasn't bonded to him, but I'm not sure it would have mattered if he had. I agree with not worrying about labels because, as complicated as your child is combined with his life before you ever got him, I'm betting there is no way to figure out the entire picture. I'd treat the symptoms and, if necessary, I would do Residential Treatment Center (RTC).
I always tell potential adoptive parents now to adopt babies. The older kids we adopted never worked out in the end (see my easy child from Hong Kong). The babies all bonded to us as if they'd been our birthkids. Have you ever read books on older adopted kids and attachment disorders? I can't remember the names of the books I've read or I'd recommend one. There are websites though. (((Hugs)))


I don't understand how he can score so high on the tests but can't sit down with a pencil and write a paragraph. He can't construct a proper sentence. His hand writing was at a 2nd grade level and the school refused to teach him cursive. They are still having him write in print and they have put into his IEP that he can give verbal answers or use a computer to type his answers.

There are multitudes of people with high IQs, but they also have one or more learning disabilities. Sounds like potential problems with fine motor skills and language (input/output, expressive/written language). Other things can complicate issues as well -- such as processing speed.

The older a child gets, the more frustrating these type problems get for the child, and behaviors deteriorate. "Demands of academics increase as children advance through school" in the Archives helps explain why. http://www.conductdisorders.com/com...rease-as-children-advance-through-school.434/ is the direct link.

In case you're not aware, it's common for ADHDers to have a learning disability.

I'd want new evaluations also, including an evaluation by a Speech Language Pathologist and Occupational Therapist.

Welcome aboard!


New Member
I'm so sorry for what you're going through. I picture my youngest difficult child acting this way in a few years. He too acts perfectly for others until they get to know him, then he drops the bomb that is his usual self. It is so hard to make a decision of nature vs. nuture. Is this the way he was born or can I fix this with the right help? I do think there are some things you can do that help nuture difficult children into less raging and less behavioral problems. But I also see that no matter what we do, eventually we're going to see the old difficult child again.

My heart goes out to you and your husband, and your difficult child too. If we lived closer I'd offer to watch him for a bit while you and husband went out. I know how hard it is if you don't get a break. I'm very fortunate that I have someone who watches all my kids for me after bedtime. So I may never see the light of day, but I do get away at night at times.


Active Member
I'm sorry your going through this. Putting him in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) doesn't mean you've failed or that you don't love him or that you're giving up. It means that he needs a level of care that a home can't give him. Even as I'm writing this I'm thinking of how heart breaking it would be and I don't know if I could do it. Sometimes parents don't have much choice because their kids are dangerous and/or need more help than the parents can give.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was attachment disorder. I didn't think it was connected with the autism spectrum.

I hope your meeting with the teacher goes well and that you can get into a neuropsy. soon.


New Member
I have a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) daughter. I'm very very fortunate that she is on the low side of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Like your son, she was manipulative, charming to others, able to fool the world. Like you, the thought of foster care even for weekend respite was horrifying. The idea of an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or any kind of 24/7 meant I had failed. Ultimately, I did have to send her to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC). It was that or abort the adoption.

Today, I wished I had accepted the occasional weekend respite. It would have given me time to recoup and gain more strength. Most weekend caregivers are pretty good. They know the child is returning home. They don't want to lose their license, so respite kids get a pretty good deal.

I don't regret my daughter going to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC). It did give her some skills that I couldn't teach her no matter how hard I tried. She's not perfect at 20, but she's not the child she was at 12. There are improvements. There is some attachment -- at least when we're together. However, it is a definite out of sight, out of mind kind of attachment.

Raising an older adopted child rarely fits the dreams of parenthood we had when we started the process. I believe we parents have to make and take more compromises, more defeats and much more abuse than most parents. The worst is accepting that we are forced to parent differently. For some, that means our children are our children but living out of our home either temporarily or permanently evne though we are still part of their lives. For some, it means our children truly cannot be part of our families in any way -- they (and we) are better off with our children living elsewhere permanently without any interaction from us.

Some things you need to consider and understand. The statistics for failed adoptions, especially of adoptions of a child over age 4, are astronomically high. You need breaks. Both you and your husband need time to be a couple. Your child may need more help than you can give him. So, my suggestions would be to grab the respite care. If it is needed and if it will help your son, don't rule out an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and don't consider it a failure on your part. Just make sure it is a good one and one that deals with attachment issues even if he doesn't have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). If, ultimately, you have to give up on the adoption, don't be too hard on yourself. Kids like ours are difficult. There are options out there that could still let you be his mom, just not living together. It's not what you dreamed of, but it is doable.

When you can do it without being emotional, decide exactly what you can truly tolerate without totally breaking, what your son truly needs. It is possible your son has been so badly damaged you can't help him. It may just be that he needs more help than you can give him at the present time. Make informed decisions.

I'm truly sorry for your pain and hurt. I do understand it.

Hopeful Heart

New Member
Jen: I am new to this site but have much experience with adhd and opositional defiant disorder with my 16 year old son. You might want to stop and think about yourself for a minute. Think about your life and what kind of person you are. It sounds to me like you have done all you can for this child. I believe that to keep him any longer in an environment with loved ones who cannot help him any further is prolonging his suffering. It may be very likely that this child needs much more than you and your husband can give him. I know you may be afraid of adding an abandonment issue to his long list of troubles, but at this point you may need to just take the stand that you have done all that you can do. Maybe the system can arrange for you to visit this child and follow his achievements. This will help you in knowing that you are still part of the journey but from a safe distance to help both the child and your marriage. This way you and your husband can get on with your lives and not lose each other in the mix. Your husband may be much more cooperative at a distance from the turmoil of constant failure. He may even become interested n the childs progress himself. It's the failure he cannot take as he cannot "fix" this childs problems. ( A normal response for most males.) I applaud you both for going this far with love and concern in your heart. It may be time to let God have a hand at this child. There is no room for guilt if you have done your best. Good Luck to Jen.


Well-Known Member
Autism and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) sometimes look similiar, but are completely different. My son is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but not Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). However, since the child of the poster is an older adoptee, unfortunately I would, if it were me, assume there were some attachment problems and, since he's been in foster care, consider that he may have also been sexually abused somewhere along the road. It's not pretty in foster care. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is extreme attachment disorder. It is very common to have attachment disorders and something else too. Kids adopted out of foster care usually have more genetic markers for psychiatric and neurological disorders than other kids. Their parents have lost their parental rights, and that is usually due to mental illness/drug/alcohol abuse. Also, many of the kids were exposed to substances in utero. Fetal alcohol syndrome is common, and people who have this have actual brain damage--they need 'round the clock care or they'll get into trouble. They don't seem to understand "breaking the law" and are very impulsive. A neuropsychologist exam would be great--we did that for my complicated, adopted son who is on the autism spectrum. I think NeuroPsychs do the best as far as diagnosing problems. They certainly take the most time. Since the child was adopted at age six, I'm guessing that this goes beyond regular ODD or ADHD or even autism, although he may also have those disorders. It's an extreme disadvantage to us that we don't know the child's entire genetic history and often don't ever learn what happened in foster care either. Our adopted eleven year old who turned out to be a sexual predator didn't remember being sexually abused himself, although he obviously had been somewhere along the line. How many foster homes had your son been in before he came to you? Was his birthfamily experience very traumatic? Did his birthmother abuse drugs or alcohol? These are all considerations that have great impact on the kid.


Well-Known Member
I want to make one thing clear. You can't just give a child back to the state any more than you can do that with a biological child. You can send your child to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and in most states both adoptive and biological parents can relinquish their parental rights to their children, and sometimes do it strictly to get the child more services. In Wisconsin, you are never allowed to give up your rights to a child, but you can ask the state to step in and take custody so that the child can afford to go to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC), etc. It is, in my opinion, no easier emotionally to give up rights to an adopted child than one you gave birth to. We did it because our son was so dangerous that he was a threat to kill us as well as to continue abusing our younger kids and the ones in the neighborhood. CPS didn't *want* him with us because he was already holding knives to people. If our bio. kid had done that, he'd have been just as gone from our house, if not our lives, for the sakes of the safety and mental health of the other children. We would have never given up on him if he had not been so frightening that my younger kids are terrified of him, and I hear he hasn't changed. At any rate, just wanted to clear up that you can't just say "I changed my mind" to the State. And nobody should go into adoption thinking that way. Any child MAY need to sever contact with his parent, biological or adoptive if he/she is a serious threat to the family.


New Member
I want to thank everyone for the advice and support. I read a few posts to my husband and it sank in to him. I think what Hopeful Heart said clicked with him. He knows that he cannot "fix" our son so he just gave up with the whole situation. Since my first post my son has been doing wonderful. I think he realized I was at the end of my rope. We have had six days of peace in the house. It has been nice and I have been enjoying it very much. I'm not blind to his techniques, but I am using this time and enjoying his company. He starts school tomorrow and he told me he is excited and looking forward to a fresh start. I wondering how many days will go by before I get the dreaded call. This is not me being pessimistic, but actually being realistic. From 1st grade he has not gone the first full week of school with out getting sent to the principal’s office. If we make it a week this time I will be over the moon.

Thank you to everyone for sharing their stories. I finally feel like I'm not alone.