New Member
I am SO frustrated I am just praying there is some wisdom here.

We have had our adopted daughter for a little over 3 1/2 years (she was 4 when we got her) and she has been labeled Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) by 2 different therapist, but we have never gotten an official diagnosis. We placed her in school for the first time this spring (we homeschool our other 6 kids) but the FIE report did not find any emotional disorder. They tested her her first week of school and I wasn't surprised. As many Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) parents know the honeymoon phase lasts longer than that. Now we are into our second year of school and problems are starting to rise. Aggression on the bus, disorderly conduct that's dangerous, coming home from school daily with marks on a disciplinary calendar.

I decided to call what our school calls another ARD meeting so that we could discuss having another full evaluation done so she could be placed in life skills and have either an aid or placed in the classroom that is more suited for her disorder.

There is no doubt this school does not believe that she has a disorder. We have had CPS called on us and without a doubt we are seen as abusive and neglectful parents and she is simply a child that needs attention, love, and time. We have told them about what the therapist have stated, we have give them literature on teaching children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and they have fought us tooth and nail.

I had a meeting with her teacher last Monday just so that we could be on the same page about our upcoming school meetings and she told me she could not believe that Tia had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and that even though she is immature and, as we Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) parents know in a constant state of control and manipulation in her classroom, the teacher states that she has never been manipulated or controlled by Tia and that she is simply a hyperactive child.

Amazingly since we have talked to the teacher she has not received any marks on her disciplinary calendar and has come home daily to tell me she does not feel safe at home and wants to live with her teacher. The full story is far too long for me to ever put on here, but it boils down to they are telling me that even though they're ready to kick her off the bus, she gets almost daily disciplinary marks, and has been banned from going to any school events that require school bus transportation, that there is not any problems and there is no reason for her to be labeled as a special needs child.

I feel defeated, stupid, and just don't know what to do. I'm tempted to hire a lawyer who specializes in special education and see if they can help me out. But what I can say is the relationship that has suddenly formed between my daughter's teacher and her is grossly inappropriate. And I feel like I'm beating my head against the wall and look like just a giant butt hole parent.

As a sidenote, our daughter is seven and still placed in kindergarten with students two years younger than her. My husband and I are both psychologist and my husband wrote his dissertation on reactive attachment disorder, ironically enough long before we ever got our daughter and we had no idea she had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). We are educated, have phenomenally well behaved children aside from our Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child, but yet somehow we are still seen as the ignorant, abusive, neglectful parents. This sucks.

There has got to be someone out there who has experienced something similar and has some amazing advice.


Well-Known Member
Welcome - there are indeed wise souls here who have navigated Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and they will be along soon to offer advice and comfort.

If your daughter is attending a public school and has been banned from the school bus, and not to mention has been essentially retained in kindergarten, then you have grounds to request (demand) a case study evaluation to determine whether or not she has special needs. You can take this request all the way up to the district (not building) administrator for special education. Since it seems like the list of issues with your daughter is a long one and that you are dissatisfied with the building's response, going over their heads and sending your letter to the district directly may be worth considering.

If your daughter attends a private school, the situation is different. Private schools do not have to provide assistance to (known or suspected) special needs students. If this is the case, you will need to go a slightly different route if you want to keep her in that school.

I am sorry you are going through this.


New Member
She is attending public school and I am going to demand a full battery of all tests that they offer when we have our big meeting on Monday.

Thank you!!!


Long road but the path ahead holds hope.
I am just letting you know I think your are an amazing mom! This is not easy stuff. I have no experience in Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I am wishing you very success.


Well-Known Member
I adopted two older kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Both times were a nightmare. One left us at 28 and i havent seen him for 15 years (he also asked my daughter to marry him since they werent really related) and another one was too dangerous to keep in a family. He had to leave at 13 for sexual molestation of my poor littles. But neither acted up at school. Thete was that.

I do find that almost nobody knows what Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is. Its even hard to explain. Even professionals dont all know what it is. I found my most support at an adoptive parent group. Find one! They are most apt to understand and have sugvestions.

I almost never like recommending lawyers because not all can afford them. But with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) I would go the lawyer route if you can.

I hope you have better luck than we did with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). The three angels I adopted very young are grown now and my magical special blessings. I love them to the universe and back. Older adopted kids, we found out, are usually damaged even before we meet them and my old notion that love will triumph is not always true.

Take care and get tough! You are strong and can do this.
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Well-Known Member
Make sure to put your request for a special education evaluation in writing (use the words "special education"), and state in your letter that you are aware that they have ten days to respond to you.

See if that changes their approach.

I recommend contacting your state board of ed to retain the services of a free advocate. I would be willing to bet your district has a reputation for denying services based on their interactions with your family to date. My guess is they'll whip themselves into shape once they know you are aware of your rights.


Roll With It
Do NOT ask for things in meetings. It does no good to ask in person, even at meetings. You have no proof it was asked for. Even if you have audiotape or video of the meeting, it isn't proof in a court. You have to write a letter asking for an IEP evaluation with FBA and Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation and anything else you want. You then have to mail it to the school by certified mail, return receipt requested (signature required). This is the proof that a court of law will accept. I know a lawyer who deals with these cases and she says that the courts often just don't even want to deal with audio or video proof of requests, it is easier if they are on paper. Email is too easy to fake, so that isn't accepted.

By sending the request this way, by mail with the bells and whistles, you have a receipt that someone had to sign the day they received it. The school has a set number of days, I think 45 days from that day, to get the evaluations done. Not school days, days period. Many schools try to claim it is school days, or days they are actually in school (not holidays or teacher days, which could extend it by a huge amount). This also gives your daughter the full protections of an IEP while she is being evaluated. This means she cannot be suspended more than 10 times or for more than 10 days without a placement review. You are aware she has the right to FAPE in LRE, and what that means, aren't you? All that alphabet soup means is that your daughter has the right to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

I strongly suggest you start educating yourself about IEPs. How to write one, what a good one contains, what a bad one contains, how to tell the difference, how to object to what the school wants to put in her IEP, etc.... Be sure you never let them see you sweat in an IEP meeting. It will be you, or you and your husband against all of the teachers and the school's experts and their district people. I was once the only person on "my side" and the school had 18 people at the meeting. They were definitely all against every single thing I asked for. They just wanted some way to make my son fit into their cookie cutter mold. They ended up giving me everything I asked for. I was frustrated quite a few of them, but I really did not care. Later when they tried to not follow the IEP, I reminded them that it was enforceable by law.

If you can, get your daughter to a neuropsychologist for testing for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), or to someone you trust for a formal diagnosis. It will make your dealings with the school far easier. I am sure you know what therapies will be helpful. Although it is probably very different to live with a person with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) than to treat a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Be very careful because kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can be very very dangerous to other children and to pets in the household. We have had MANY people come here over the years after their stepchild or partner's child or adopted child or grandchild with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) hurt, tortured or killed their pet or even hurt or tortured their children. Or burned down their home or otherwise destroyed their property and lives. I truly believe that if you did not have full disclosure before the adoption, you may have grounds to disrupt it. I know you love the child, but she may not be able to live in a home.


Well-Known Member
Although normally I love the idea of an advocate, and used one myself, i dont think the advocates know what Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is. Ditto for anyone who can test through school. It is not sonething looked for. If this were me, rather than expecting school psychologists to test her and find Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) i would go to a private psychiatrist or neuropsychologist (not a neurologist) who is very interested in and knowlegeable about adopted kids. Otherwise you may never get the right diagnosis or the right interventions at school. She will probably get a wrong diagnosis since very few of even mental health workers or educators ever heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It is best known in the adopton community.

After you get this diagnosis, and any others she may have, ask for school testing and bring this private testing with you. School districts have to consider the diagnosis of an outside professional. Usually the outsiders test much better and have more all around knowledge and experience.
Is your daughter in private attachment therapy outside of school? Any treatment at all? Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is very serious. School can give her supports, but school wont make Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) better.

The time to disrupt an adoption is before finalization. Disclosure or not there is no recourse once the adoption is legal. When our adopted child molested my younger kids the county removed him but we had to pay ongoing child support. Usually you can not give up rights to your child for any reason in Wisconsin (and many states) but our case was so extreme eventually they compassionately allowed us to dissolve the adoption. But this is rare.

The states rarely disclose everything and are never held accountable. Sometimes nobody really knows the extent of damage there is. I dont think the State of NJ, where our boy came from, had a clue what he was really like. He even fooled his psychiatrist. And his foster parebts before us. RADs are good actors. But he was very dangerous, so do be careful. They not only can molest little ones, but often act out sexually at young ages in other ways and ours killed two pets.

Good luck
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Well-Known Member
Get her examined by a pediatric psychiatrist and hire a lawyer. Personally, I would go ahead and sue the school simply because they called CPS. Defamation of your character.


Well-Known Member
You cant get into trouble for calling cps unless you do it just to be mean and the person can prove it was vindicative. Even then nobody usually gets into trouble. If an educator, a mandated reporter, calls cps because the person feel it may be a bad situation for the child, even if the person is not correct, he will not get ito trouble. Everyone is allowed to contact cps.Cps is called all the time and anyone who thinks a child is being abused or neglected can legally call them with NO reprecussions. I dont like it, but it is true. Dont waste your money on that.


Active Member
I work as an elem school counsellor and have had students with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I think it is crucial you get a formal diagnosis from a private practitioner. The schiol system will have to acknowledge the diagnosis. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is tough as kids can present “normal” when they want to. It’s all about control and they have to feel in control. Even kids with the same diagnosis will present differently.

This must be so hard for you, is there even one school contact who you feel comfortable with? It’s so important you find someone you can try and build a bridge with in order to help you navigate through the system. I try to be that bridge for families who have broken relationships with admin or the teachers. It’s important that parents feel a part of the solution at school or it won’t work.

I also wonder how to find a way to connect with the teacher? Instead of seeing her as being blind to your daughters obvious manipulation, see it as part of your daughters diagnosis, she is doing exactly what a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) will do. I once had a child like this in my classroom and we became very close. I don’t think it is necessarily unhealthy but it could be? It could also be a way to help this teacher become your child’s advocate in the school.

I would first get an official diagnosis and then try and build some bridges in the school system to help find supports for your daughter.

It will be a hard road and I wish you some angels along the way to help you both.