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Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by bkr0107, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. bkr0107

    bkr0107 New Member

    Mine and my wife's journey is much like yours. We adopted three children (siblings) out of the state foster care system. That was over five years ago. While the younger to children (now 10 and 12) have assimilated quite well, my oldest son (15 today) has progessively gotten worse. Diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), adhd, bipolar, and odd, he recently came out of a six month stay in a residential treatment facility. Within 24 hours he had struck my wife. He was scheduled to start a day program that combined school with therapy, because of his violent episode with his mother the day program could not take him and suggesteed more impatient therapy. Anticipating his actions like clockwork; I engaged the childlocks on the doors in the back seat. While going down the interstate at 5pm on a monday my son became even more enraged when he found out the doors would not open. He grabbed the steering wheel while my wife was driving. The car in the next lane over slammed on their brakes; my wife over corrected and our suv almost turned over. we finally made it over to the shoulder and called 911. The police have taken him to a temporary facility while we iron out something more long term. This is his 4th impatient therapy session in five years, i have found a place that is a lot less forgiving than the touchy feely situation he just came out of. While talking with the intake cordinator he suggested that my son may have a conduct disorder, and they would review that as a possible diagnosis. This place focuses on self esteem, but also makes the consequences for bad behavior very clear. I know that there is no magic pill that he can take, but we just want him to be functional. We are tired of the violence, lying, stealing, trying to play the sympathy card because he was a foster child. We are at the point where we are afraid that if we do not do something drastic his next step will be jail. Does this sound right? We know that traditional therapy has failed. After 6 months at the previous facility he is worse than when he was admitted.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Welcome. I'm glad you found us, but sorry you had to.

    Your entire family has been through a lot. I don't have a lot of advice -- it sounds as if you are trying your hardest to get your son the help he needs -- but I wanted you to know that I read your post and am sending supportive thoughts your way.

    Is he on any medications? Has anything made things better or worse? I ask because sometimes the wrong medications can make a difficult situation even worse.

    Again, welcome.
  3. I am sorry you are going through all of this with your son. I too am sending supportive thoughts your way.

  4. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Hi and welcome! I've so been in your shoes except mine is a girl and only one and, fortunately, no BiPolar (BP) diagnosis, "just" Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It took almost two years at an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) to get mine under control. Prior to the placement, I would have been surprised if she wasn't in jail for a serious crime before she even reached adulthood.

    Things are not perfect today, but she's not drugging, drinking, stealing. She's not 100% honest but no teen is (even if she is no longer a teen, her behavior screams teendom to me). Sadly, she is a high school dropout, still subject to temper tantrums and rages, her sense of entitlement is well above average. On the plus side, she is holding down a fulltime job, getting ready to move into her first apartment, making some real decisions.

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids are tough. If you were to give me a choice, I'd take a kid with BiPolar (BP) over one with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) any day of the week. Who knows, maybe some of the BiPolar (BP) medications will help with some of the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) actions. For your sake, I hope so.

    Six months isn't nearly long enough to do much for a kid with major behavior problems. It takes many years to learn the behavior a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child believes will help them survive. It takes more than a few months to change that. A good Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) adolescent needs to temper love with very stiff, concrete consequences. It needs to not buy into the "poor little me" talks, which can be difficult because these kids are so dang good at manipulation.

    I hope you can find a way to help your son. I know how hard this is. He obviously cannot live at home given his present behaviors. Finding a good fit for him and his issues is difficult, especially since his level of violence is so extreme.
  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I would first like to commend you for the strong support you give your wife. It is so important to back her up and take a lead role in trying to change your difficult child's behavior. Nothing will destroy a marriage more than a spouse who does not take an active role in childrearing especially when you are dealing with a difficult child. The child must know that the parents are united in their efforts and cannot be torn apart.

    You know you are dealing with inherited characteristics. My husband and I recently attended a talk given by a licensed professional clinical counselor who deals with juveniles, many from the court system in our area. He wrote a book in which he said:

    "When you have a child who has a tendency to act inappropriately because of inherited characteristics, you cannot act as a normal parent. You must act abnormally by overcompensating and making sure you remain constantly vigilant to respond to your child whenever your child does not do what they are suppose to do. You will need to become a "super parent". It is an enhausting task, but if it is not continually attended to, the probabilities are that the child who was born to be "bad" will stand a very good chance of becoming "bad". The responsibility for keeping the child on the appropriate path lies squarely with the child's parents. If the child has a trndency to steer to the right, you must direct the child to the left, not to the center. You must become a "super parent".

    He goe son to say that the number of families in his practice where there is an adopted child usually ranges from 35% to 50%, and that number holds true for most other therapists he works with. The reason thatis significant is that only 2% of families in the US have an adopted child.

    He also says that it is possible to alter one's behavioral core by structuring or restructuring the outside on such a controlled and consistent basis that the core of who they are on the inside becomes modified to conform to external structure. I often wondered if our adopting our difficult child did any good for her, or was she predispositioned to be in all the trouble she is in and we had no impact. This gave me some hope.

    Our difficult child is about to go to juvenile court for the third time. She spent a weekend in detention two years ago and straightened out her life for about 18 months. Recently she decided to become rebellious again and we have had to involved the court system once again. I am terrified that unless she modifies her behavior soon she will end up in jail as an adult. We had to do the unthinkable, call the police on our own child.

    I hear you that you are tired of your son using the foster child bit as a sympathy ploy. Our adopted children spend their entire lives being angry at everyone except who they should be angry at. I recently asked my daughter who she was so angry at that she had to detrouy her entire life for. Surely it couldn;t be us becausae all we did was bring her into our family and love her.

  6. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree it sounds like you are doing everything possible. Glad you found us-you will find much support here.
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Hi and welcome - glad you found us.

    Phew! Sounds like you've really been thru it with your oldest - I'm just so sorry. It's a bit Twilight Zone to have to go thru the kind of day you described. I'm just glad you all are okay.

    My son has been in RTCs for all but 6 months of the last 8 years. When he was younger, I hoped/thought the more therapeutic kind of setting would help him learn how to manage his emotions and reactions better. My thinking has changed a bit as he's gotten older. There's no question my son is mentally ill, but the vast majority of his violence is ... well, while it's related to his skewed thought processes, it's not a case of he doesn't know what he's doing. He needs to be held accountable. For years, I've pictured him flipping out in 7-11 some day because they don't have his brand of gum (or something equally ridiculous). His mental illness makes it difficult to deal with that frustration but at the end of the day, if he wants to live in a community, he needs to learn how to deal with it. If he doesn't, he cannot live in a community. Does that make sense? I'm fairly certain that the 7-11 staff or police are not going to "process" his "feelings" once he's done trashing the store, you know? ;)

    I guess my only question would be what are the consequences at this new facility? More chores, loss of privileges, that kind of thing I think is appropriate. I would want to make sure we're not talking corporal punishment or isolation.

    There are a wide variety of opinions on the board and obviously none of us have *the* answer. ;) I think I differ from some in that, while absolutely my son has a mental illness, I do not think that it means the world (and our family) has to accept unacceptable behavior. It's harder for my son to function and I'm heartbroken over that fact, but if he wants to have the privilege of living outside of institutions, there are simply some very basic rules he has to follow. No violence is of course the biggie. His choice, because he *can* control it.

    Anyway, just my opinion. I certainly don't think it's unreasonable to have more logical consequences start kicking for inappropriate behavior. Again - welcome and glad you found us.
  8. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Very well said, Sue.
    Right now, I hold out little hope that my difficult child will ever be able to live without 24/7 support and supervision. He is able to control his impulses and manage his behaviour when he's motivated to do so. But most of the time he chooses not to. He's living in a permanent Residential Treatment Center (RTC)/Assisted Living Facility, and he will be there for the foreseeable future. The chaos and danger in our home were too much to bear and we had to consider the safety of the rest of our family.

    bkr0107, welcome. You will find a wealth of support here on this forum.