New here and needing parents like me!


New Member
I've been lurking on this board for a couple of days and have been extremely impressed, although I have one question (and pardon my ignorance here) WHAT IS difficult child????

My son (12 in 3 weeks) was diagnosis'd with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) (reactive attachment disorder), ADHD, and Anxiety several years ago. The Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is mild as far as that goes, but still very hard to live with, add that to heading into puberty (oi!) Most of the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) presents in a lack of respect for adults and authority, hoarding, stealing (fortunately this is <u>usually</u> limited to within the household at this point)and little or no remourse. His pediatrician is also watching him for possible bipolar, right now he presents a few symptoms, but not quite enough to actually diagnosis him.

Seems everywhere I go I hear about the lack of respect my son has for others. The mouthiness he has. He's an extremely smart kid, but he's also a smart@$$. I've had some tell me "well, you're the parent it's up to you to find something that works" As if it were that easy!

So, among other things, I am now on a new mission. Again, the boy has no remourse, so any sort of grounding etc has no effect on him. Finances are very tight in our house (especially paying for medications, psychiatric, etc!) so I don't want to do a merit system based on money, but I do want to come up with some sort of merit system. He loves to be a helper. In elementary school they kept him in check by rewarding good weeks with being able to read to younger classes. That was always a great motivator. I'm also hoping coming up with something along these lines will help curb the temper (which is occassional) and tearful (not as occassional) outbursts. In my readings on this board, my struggles aren't near what some of you struggle with, but if I can learn from you all and keep my boy (who has such a good heart but has such a hard time with it) on a good path. I really worry about him as he hits the teen years and starts having to make hard choices. I think so far his one saving grace is his love and talent for soccer and lacrosse.


Hi and welcome! I also have a son who we wonder about attachemnt issues with. He doesn't have an official diagnosis toher than anxiety and is on no medications. He is, however, incredibly hard to deal with!! He does have "some" remorse although I do think not as much as a easy child. The consequences are what we have a hard time with. Yesterday he broke is bedroom door and pulled up stair-runners. He did pick things up and he's lost a trip to a wrestling match but other than that we're frustrated in coming up with natural consequences. Grounding is torture for all of us! You'll find this board really helpful!


Well-Known Member
Hi and welcome.
Who diagnosed Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and why would they make that diagnosis? Was he an older adoptee? Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is only supposed to be diagnosed (per the DSM) after every other disorder has been ruled out...What symptoms does he display other than acting out?


New Member
Thanks all! A little more info. Yes, my son is adopted. He was in a Romanian orphanage from birth to 18 months. He was diagnosis'd at the age of 9 by a Psychologist after a LOT of testing. He's been on prozac for several years. After a few years of just prozac, I finally convinced doctors to also look at the ADD, finally they tried him on ritalin and that has made a BIG difference. He still has hoarding, stealing, lying, lack of remorse issues, but his rage is much more under control and his concentration level is higher. The schools won't help us much as he is a merit roll student. He sees a very good psychiatric who he relates to pretty well (at least he's willing to go!)

I'm afraid my bit about my daughter may be misleading. Her "trying to hold the family together" really is that she is our comic relief. When things get especially tense she seems to have a talent for lightening the room for everyone. I truly believe that is why she was sent into our family. It's just hard to stay too mad for too long when she's around. My husband and I seem to stay strong with each other. We are a united front.

It's sad sometimes. I see in my son this very sweet loving person who really wants to take over. He so wants to do the right thing and be the person we want him to be....then the other kid "takes over" and the monster comes out. Really leaves the family on pins and needles most of the time because you're just never really sure which way the house will be when you get home. You want so badly to trust that he means it when he's being good this time, but it's likely just a facade....

Always looking for ways to positively reinforce the good!


New Member
Welcome! I have a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) daughter. It is a diagnosis I truly loathe. The lies, the manipulation, the entitlement, the everything! are painful and difficult to deal with.

Here are some things I found that helped a little. I managed to cut down on the hoarding by fixing a cooler that was always beside her bed. It had drinks and snacks that she liked. There was still occasional hoarding after starting this but not as bad. There was just something about the idea of her having control of the cooler and knowing that she would always have food available that made a huge difference for her.

Mine never showed remorse. It took her finally getting some maturity before she would open up to me. She told me she did feel bad but there was no way she was going to let me know she did. She felt I deserved the pain and upset because I wasn't her biomother. The other factor was the simple fact that showing she felt bad didn't stop the consequence so why bother.

Other things that helped a little was simply not asking a question that could get a lie for an answer. Instead, I simply say X happened and Y should be done to fix it. Sometimes we fix the problem together, sometimes it is up to her to take care of it. And, no, I don't care how it happened, I simply care that it be fixed. This saved a lot of battles and disappointments.

Part of the respect thing is simply his age. Sadly, it's not going to improve for a long time. I was fortunate that it was only shown at home. Never to others and rarely in public. What I would do is simply say that I refuse to be treated that way and walk away. Whatever she wanted at that time didn't happen. When it got to extremes, I shut down. That is, I made sure she had the basics but none of the good stuff. I wouldn't take her to the mall, school or sport activities, the movies, shopping, let her pick what to watch on tv, etc. After a few days of this, she would usually come around and be more polite.

I did finally have to send her to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC). I can't say it helped her all that much and if I had it to do over, I would have saved the money. I think a good therapist and some other interventions at home would have accomplished about the same results. Reality is the beginning of maturity has made the most difference.

To be brutal, if an adolescent boy is typical of an adolescent girl with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), you're beginning the worst of the journey. If you can keep him off drugs and find a good counselor who knows of adoption/attachment issues, I think you have a good chance of ultimately getting a person you can be proud of (not necessarily in the way you expected or wanted but someone who does good by his standards).

Good luck! The path our kids choose are not easy paths and they do merrily drag us along.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Just popping in to say hello and welcome. Glad you found us but sorry you needed to. You will find much support here-this place is truly a soft place to land.


Well-Known Member
i also wondered about fetal alcohol exposure, which is common in those parts. Those kids have true organic brain damage, are very impulsive, don't "get" things, and tend to appear not to have a conscience because they don't connect "right" from "wrong." Do you know if his birthmother drank? I just finished reading a good book called "The Broken Cord" by Michael Dorris who adopted a child who turned out to have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Then he adopted two more who ended up having fetal alcohol effects (normal IQ and no dysmorphic features, but just as many problems). This can seriously mimic Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). How does he do in school? Can he remember things from day to day?