New Member
I have a 13 (almost 14) year old son, who has left me completely exhausted. My son was in foster care from ages 4 1/2 to age 8. He was born to a 15 year old mother, and lived with her for the first several years of his life. She gave birth to another child at age 19 and that child tested positive for meth at birth and both my son and his brother were placed into family foster care (biological grandparents). At this time both a hair folical test and urine test came back positive for meth in my son as well. There was physical abuse and continued drug exposure in that home, and after a year the two boys were sent to live with the youngest's biological father. In that home my son was sexually abused by a babysitter, and he was placed into a nonfamilial foster home after a year. While there was no physical or sexual abuse in that home, I feel that there was some emotional abuse, as food was very restricted, and simple things like going to a movie were almost unattainable rewards. I met my son while he was in this home, and he came to me shortly after his eighth birthday.

My son was diagnosed with ADHD before coming to live with me. It took about 8/9 months to find a medication combination that allowed him to "behave" in school well enough to not get kicked out, yet didn't make him a zombie. During the search for the right medication he was also diagnosed with BiPolar (BP). Since the age of 4 he has been in counseling, and at age 10 the counselor diagnosed him with CD as well.

Things have continued to deteriorate. I am a single mother and have already raised one child, who was a straight A student (taking all honors courses), was extremely popular in school, and is attending college on an athletic/academic scholarship. I have tried all the same parenting methods with my son. When those didn't work, I researched, spoke to counselors, etc and tried new methods. I explain to him very honestly why I make the decisions I do, and what the consequences for not following the rules will be.

While my son has always had trouble making friends, and staying out of fights at school, the past two years have gotten progressively worse. He is considered gifted in the intelligence aspect, and seems to use that intelligence to see what he can get away with. He has been in fights at school (that normally result in him getting beat up because he's small for his age). He has become what I consider hypersexual... he was suspended for hacking the school computer system to view pornography, and had begun masturbating in front of people and in inappropriate settings (examples: during one family evening watching television I look over and he was masturbating in the livingroom, and on another occassion I came home from work early to find him naked and in my bedroom). I have explained time and time again that while masturbation is a normal/healthy thing you need to do it in the privacy of your bedroom or bathroom, and not at inappropriate times (he would excuse himself from the dinner table to go to his room, masturbate, and then come back to the table to finish dinner).

He is also abusive towards animals. We had to rehome one of our dogs because my son had started tossing it at his bedroom door (he said he liked the sound). I have seen him attempt to drop things on our cat, and attempt to hurt other animals when he thinks no one is looking. He has taken this beyond animals and my daughter had to have plastic surgery after he took a glass and smashed it on her mouth while she was lying down and it took a chunk out of her lip.

He has also begun stealing, basically all the time. He has stolen money, electronics, toys, etc from my parents and friends. Many of the people in our support system will no longer allow him in their homes unless I'm present and within 10 feet of him at all times. Last year he began sneaking additional video game time, had crashed two laptops (not his)viewing pornography. I locked all of his electronics (video games, ipod, etc) in a lockbox and he was supposed to ask permission for his 1 hour of electronics a day, and I'd unlock the box. He stole another PSP, and then stole my debit card and charged several downloads. I didn't realize it was him, and reported the card as being stolen, changed all my banking passwords and got another debit card. Within two weeks that one also had several unauthorized transactions. I repeated the process and this time had to cancel a vacation because the money I had saved for that was frozen in my account while the bank and I tried to figure out how I was being "hacked". He overheard me telling someone that the bank was pressing charges and that each transaction would be a felony forgery. At that point he fessed up that he had used my debit card once or twice. I got his username and password and found that he was actually responsible for both series of incidents and the thefts totalled over $500. Since then he has also stolen over $300 in cash from my hospitalized father, two ipads from my mother, a ring from my sister, and an unknown amount of cash and heirlooms from his sister and I. He also has started shoplifting, although he has never been caught by store security. I took him to the police department to try and press charges for the thefts and hopefully "scare him straight", but the police seemed to find it funny, and said he was too young to do anything. I have taken my purse everywhere with me since the debit card incident, and locked up everything I can think of, but he continues to find ways around that, hence the stealing of the heirloom coins.

I am simply exhausted. My son is a very smart, sweet kid when he wants to be. I can't begin to tell you the number of times a stranger has complimented me on his manners, or for him holding the door. Yet he doesn't have an ounce of empathy. When my dad was first hospitalized they said he may not live through the day. I was crying and my son asked "what's that have to do with me?" I have tried every type of punishment possible... He has been grounded, he has written sentences, he has written essays, he has had extra chores, I've had him read books about similar issues as what he is in trouble for and write a report, I've taken away his privliges, I've spanked him, I've given him rewards for the smallest positive behavior, I've put him in activities (Boy Scouts, self-defense, basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis, dance, theatre, science enrichment) that he's expressed interest in, hoping that if he's busy he can't get in trouble or won't want to. Nothing has worked, and I'm so exhausted trying to help him be a successful, productive member of society. People have told me to "give him back" and that just makes it worse. He's my son, not a defective item of clothing I can return to the store because it didn't work out. I just don't know what to do. I no longer feel safe in my own home and I know that we can't continue to live like this, but if I just "give up" and let him do whatever he wants and let the law handle it when he's caught that he'll be hurt or killed, or that he'll be in prison for the rest of his life.


Well-Known Member
Adopted at age 8? Neglect and abuse in the earliest years of life? Cruelty to animals? ...

Have you ever heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) - reactive attachment disorder?


New Member
Yes, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is one of the earlier diagnosis he received. They said the CD, and bi-polar superceded it though.


Well-Known Member
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) alone would cause a lot of what you are seeing. And I'm no expert on it - others here have had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids. But I understand it's very difficult or almost impossible to treat.

CD isn't much better.

Bi-polar can be treated, if the person is prepared to be medications compliant. But Bi-polar doesn't account for the behavior you are describing, does it?
he doesn't have an ounce of empathy
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Ugh.


New Member
Most of the current behavior can't be explained by bi-polar in my opinion either. He's very medication compliant and since finding the right medications a lot of the BiPolar (BP) issues have resolved themselves or are masked by the medication.

I wish I knew what was causing the issues, particularly the stealing/violence. If someone said that balancing on my right elbow for two minutes and forty-five seconds would give us at least one days peace, I'd start practicing right this second, lol. I love my kid with everything I have, but not being able to even take a shower in peace, or go to work without getting a call from the school, and absolutely no breaks even for a dinner or movie because no one will watch him any more just has me exhausted and honestly overwhelmed.


Well-Known Member
I wish I knew what was causing the issues, particularly the stealing/violence
That's Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). They have no empathy. No concern for anyone but themselves. It comes from not having their needs met in the first three years of life.

Sorry. I don't have any answers.


Well-Known Member
Reactive Attachment Disorder (Reactive Attachment Disorder (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD))) alone would cause a lot of what you are seeing. And I'm no expert on it - others here have had Reactive Attachment Disorder (Reactive Attachment Disorder (Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD))) kids. But I understand it's very difficult or almost impossible to treat.
This is probably the issue. Almost all kids who were in foster care have it. Cruelty to animals, likeing fire, and peeing and pooing inappropriately are big red flags. This is almost impossible to treat. I had a child who had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and he ended up sexually abusing my younger kids and had to leave. He did not do much better in his special residential facilities.

Just to be safe, I'd never leave him alone with animals or younger kids and put an alarm on his door at night so you know when he's leaving the room. You may want to get a surveillance camera too so you can see what he REALLY does when you're not there.

You don't want to live our nightmare. Our Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kid came at 11 and was so charming and friendly to adults that he had no bad diagnosis at all when he first arrived and he fooled us for years, all the while sexually abusing our younger kids and terrifying them into silence. We had no clue. We are smarter now. All I can say is, foster care is not a good place to adopt a child from. It is always best to adopt as young a child as you can. The more they were in foster care, the worse they get. They start to stop trusting anyone and don't develop a conscience. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and CD have about the same conscience.

Be very careful and good luck. You need to accept that your son will probably not get better, medications won't help, and that he may be safer and you may be safer if he does not live in your house. The sad facts of foster care. We did give the sexual predator back. There are dealbreakers to living in our family and he crossed all the lines. Other people, including us, could not be hurt. And, trust me, this child did NOT miss us. When asked he said, "I miss the toys and money."

It is definitely an option to also parent him out of an Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Not all kids can live at home and not all foster kids can be fixed. It is a difficult decision (although for us it was a no-brainer). However, you have to decide how much you are willing to take and how much better he is actually getting. He may do better away from home. Many Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids plain don't understand love and don't want it and don't respond well to it and hurt people who try to love them, like our child. I am relieved he is gone.

We had another Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) expereince that was less dramatic, but also heartwrenching. We adopted a six year old from another country who was a very good, law abiding smart boy, but as soon as he became an adult he said, "You're not my family" and we have not seen him for eight years. He won't let us even text him. We are blocked from his life.

Adoption is best (we have done it right three times) when the babies are infants and have not been abused in the system, either here or abroad. Babies need love and nurturing their first three years to develop normally or their brain wiring becomes abnormal...they become emotionally failure to thrive. There is a world of difference between my infant adoptees, my one biological son, and those we adopted at six and eleven. The older kids were not feeling the love that we felt and we had to let them go.

There is nothing you can do to wipe out his past, before he came to you, and there is nothing you can do about what may be his future. Even if he lives with you, stealing and abusing animals and people and you, he very well could end up in prison. It does not sound as if he is changing for the better. Don't feel bad. This is not abnormal for foster/adopted children. We are usually more attached to them then they are to us.

My final .02 is that nobody should be afraid in their own home.

Hugs and hoping to send you strength.
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