To Adopt or Not to Adopt---That is the question!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Full House, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. Full House

    Full House New Member

    Everyone needs advice, and I really need it now. Here's the thing. I have 4 kids at home, I took in my cousins 2 kids and we have agreed to adopt as soon as TPR is complete. And now here's the BUT--we are haveing big problems with the girl. Shes 8 now we've had them for a year now. They say she has Reactive Attachment Disorder. I was looking over the net and found Oppositional Defiant Disorder that sound sooooo much more like her. Either way, it's affecting the other kids in the house and don't seem to be getting better. I want to help these kids but think I'm hurting 4 others in the process. Does anyone think this is something she can overcome (fairly soon). example last night it was time for bed, she said it was cold in her room. I told her I would open her door when I go to bed so it warms, that wasn't good enough, I asked her what she wanted me to do, she said nothing, I said well good night then.She fell on the floor screaming and kicking,I again told her what I would do for her and it wasn't good enough, so I said keeep the radio off and I will open the door, NO, and so we go on with the screaming and kicking, so I made the decicion,I took the radio out that made things worse, I hate you, I want my dad,and i think there was some swearing in there inbetween the screaching and kicking the bed frame for 20 mins. My 3 year old was next to me and said with tearing eyes "what's wrong with mantha?) we have this tantrum stuff all the time, and honestly I am sick of it. I need other Ideas to try, or very soon I am going to have to stop.
    Thanks ahead of time for any Ideas. Bless
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Welcome Full House. There are some parents here who are dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and they are the ones who will be able to help you the most.

    If you aren't familiar with the book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, I suggest you pick up a copy.
  3. Christal22

    Christal22 New Member

    I was just curious, are these children seeing a counselor or pysch?

    Without any medical or mental issues involved, just going through what these children have been through is hard enough. I speak through experience. I myself was taken away and put in foster care at age 2. I went back and forth for four years and finally the state took me at 6. I was adopted out.
    Personally, I dealt with abandonment issues, idenity issues and depression. Even as an adult, I have had a hard time dealing with what my childhood dealt me.

    My first suggestion would be to find help fast. It is very hard to have a peaceful family with that going on. I'm sure this child is going through much more than anyone could possibly understand. On top of what sounds like ODD and a possible mood disorder (just a hunch), she is most likely also hurting very much and does not know how to express that.

    It will be a difficult road ahead of you, but I commend you for trying. You are truly giving these children something they need....Stability. May God bless you. I'll be praying for you and your family.
  4. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green've got a full house, don't you? Without knowing the full situation (why they were taken from bio mom, things they went through, etc.) I would have to say a couple of things. First, and you'll hear about this book alot here, get the book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It's been very helpful around here.

    Also, as it sounds like you got the kids straight from the abusive situation, there are bound to be some issues. If they aren't already, I really recommend getting them into counseling and maybe the occasional family counseling to help everyone adjust. You said they've been with you for a year but honestly, that's not really a long time when there's that much upheavel in their lives. If this is something that's started recently, it could be she's having a hard time dealing with things since it's the holiday season. That can be a big trigger for kids especially ones that have been removed from parental care. She could also be testing too. Even though you are blood family and want to adopt, she could be worried that you won't keep her and she'll have to move again.

    There are so many possible reasons for this behaviour that I think counseling is a good place to start. If the behaviour isn't disorder related (ADHD, BiPolar, etc.) counseling is a great place for her to work through her hurt, confusion and uncertainty. And you may not even know everthing that happened to them in their bio home. It could also be that whatever the problem is, it won't be "fixed" right away. That's not to say it can't be helped or improved, just that it could very well take a while.

    You've found a good support system and source of advice in this site. Others will be by shortly with more advice. Good luck!
  5. Full House

    Full House New Member

    Thanks, yes both the kids have counselors, and I have asked for family theripy and have done that for about 3 months now once a week. There mom was never really in their lives and dad was taken for 1st degree sex assult on a minor (not the one I have) there dad (i think) was a good dad, let them do what they wanted but was blind (honestly) in one eye and was hard of hearing. So when they came into our home The boy was very happy to know someone could see what was going on, and the girl was not happy because I knew what she was about to do or doing. I watched her pick on her brother while playing a game, look out the window and PUNCH HERSELF and then come in the other room to tell me HE hit her. She's basicly over doing that but now is in the lieing, arguing and vindictive mode. She used to get her way with her dad because her brother is mild mental retarded and didn't know how to defent himself. She has told me she gets upset because she want to get her way. and she honestly wants every thing first and before every other child and will shove it in their faces waiting for a reaction. I have never seen theis behavior before her. Is this just a normall girl?
  6. happymomof2

    happymomof2 New Member

    Not much great advice here but bless you for being willing and able to take on all that.

    Don't think I could take it and I only have 2.

    You do need to get her some help in some way. It is not right that she is making life he** for everyone else.

    Sounds like you will do everything you can to get things under control.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    WOW - poor kids, one can only imagine the things that they've had to endure with limited (due to age) coping skills. I imagine your girl has done the best she could to get by with what she knew at the tender age of 7. Sounds like your boy made it through hell a little less worse for wear.

    And yes, you would think after 1 year in a stable home it would knock some of those odd behaviors out completely. My son lived in a life of abuse and yelling, screaming, crying, drugs, booze other women - and he's 17, with counseling since he was 6, therapy, hospitializations, Residential Treatment Center (RTC), medications - and he's still much like he was at 6 - angry, impulsive, but better able to cope with the thoughts in his head as he matures and has a stable home, loving parents, and guidance.

    Anymore I guess I don't know what is normal behavior for someone 8 years old. I can only tell you that the things my son did were not normal and what you are describing of your girl may not be normal by standards - but considering what she's been through - what IS normal? There's a lot of anger in those tantrums, There are a lot of memories that she may not even be conscious of - just fears. Considering what they endured - a year isn't a very long time to heal. It's a GREAT start. Only time will tell if she's going to be manageable.

    My Mommy sense says - she's going to be a handful for a long time to come. Some people are able to adapt and adjust - some never quite attain that peace in their lives. We as parents can only put tools in their paths to help them facilitate change and pray that they do.

    I understand your heart - you feel between a rock and a hard place. Not a great place to be considering she's already had her life upside down and torn. Makes you want to love her all the more - but like you said you do have the other kids to consider. Do you have to adopt both children? Do you have to make a decision now? If you didn't adopt here where would she go? It's tought to make her accountable for her actions at age 8 - but then again at what age DO you?

    We're here to support you - whatever your decision is. post as often as you need to for information and advice - if we dont' know it we can always look in the archives or on line to help

    Many hugs for your hurting heart -
  8. Christal22

    Christal22 New Member

    You may want to mention Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
    This child could be lashing out from stress associated with the bio-home or stress from being put into a different home and feeling abandoned or "misplaced".

    You may want to consider seeing a Pychiatrist rather than a family therapist if your current one is not a doctor.

    Talking with your own kids about these children's circumstances in a way they can understand and relate may be helpful.

    I have a girl that is 8 with no mental or emotional disorders. It's very common for her to be "over dramatic", selfish, and want to go first at everything. This seems to be pretty norm for this gender and age.
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome aboard. I do not have an answer to your question but I have had a few interesting experiences that tend to make me more prone than many to understand why you ask the question.

    On a personal basis my husband and I took in our younger grandson on
    and off over the years and finally permanently about five years
    ago. He is doing quite well and our family is functioning. He
    is ADHD, AS and probably a few more alphabet letters. The main
    issue for me, however, is that the spontaneous joy has been sucked out of our home. As selfish as it sounds...I really do miss feeling relaxed. Life is much much better than it was. We
    are hoping that he will lead a "normal" life as an adult. on the other hand
    I understand your question AND I know it is heartfelt.

    As a volunteer I worked with neglected and abused children for many years. The DCFS (formerly HRS) was determined to keep children together for foster/adopt placements. Many times I saw
    emotionally healthy siblings legally bound to PTSD etc. siblings
    and their futures diminished as the result of the chaos.

    Has a neuro-psychological evaluation been done to ascertain the
    depth of the problems? Are the children seeing a child psychiatrist in addition to a therapist? Are any medications being used
    or suggested? In our case a very experienced Psychiatrist, once
    located, was able to help us work it out.

    Somedays I wish we had bowed out. Most days I accept that we did
    what had to be done. Every day I wish life was better for all of
    us. Good luck. DDD
  10. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    If you're positive about the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) diagnosis, she's not going to be "fixed" in a short time. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy is for the long-haul. It is hard, painful and, occasionally, successful. Besides The Explosive Child, do check out Keck's Adopting the Hurt Child.

    I can tell you that my daughter walked in with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) at age 3.5. After years of therapy, a stay at an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in her teens, she is now a young woman who I proud (most of the time) to call my daughter. She will argue the word "no" until she is blue in the face. She still thinks the world should revolve around her. If she does any act of kindness, it must be profusely acknowledged and you should be eternally greatful.

    If this were a stranger adoption, I would caution against adopting a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child with other children in the home. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids usually do much better in a single-child household. However, she is family and that has to make your decision that much harder.

    I would talk to her therapist, the social workers involved and get some real answers. Find out exactly what services are available now and what services will be available after the adoption is finalized. Get them in writing.

    You will ultimately have to decide what is best for everyone. I'm sorry you are in this position.

    For now, here's what I did when my daughter went through her tantrum stage. They quit when she saw they wouldn't work. It took my daughter about 8 months to get that message. (Persistent critters, aren't they?) And you do have to ignore her when she is screaming, banging, etc. Give her a spot where she can have her fit. If she has her own room and if she is one that won't damage the items in it, then just leave her there to have her fit. If she's one that will damage what is in there, remove everything breakable and let her have at it. Don't open the door, don't yell, just go about your business and have everyone else do the same. Not easy, but doable.

    I wish you the best. Whatever decision you ultimately make is going to be painful. If she stays with you, she will be disruptive and manipulative. If she's smart, her tactics will change as she sees something doesn't work. Remember, this is what she has had to do to survive. If you say you can't keep her, there is a good chance that CPS will say her brother will have to be removed as well (a common tactic). There will also be your guilt, the probable blame of other family members, the what ifs. No decision is going to feel right to you.
  11. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    God bless you Full House for your generous spirit and huge heart!

    As you can see from the postings above, you have found a place where you are not alone! The words and experiences of those who have replied to you is priceless.

    I do not deal with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) in my difficult child's life, so I'm not one to give advice. But I think you have been given some great things to consider from who have dealt with the disorder.

  12. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    You've been given a great deal of good advice.

    I agree with, I believe it was meowbunny, make sure any & all services are in place before you take on children with this kind of disorder; this level of hurt.

    And in saying that, it's going to take more than a year to see any type of trust in a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I would guess, given your description that your child is severe Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) with a bit of PTSD thrown in for good measure.

    I was told by an exceptional attachment/adoption therapist that it takes a good 5 years to know if the adoption of an extremely attachment disordered child will be "successful". And I'm using the term successful loosely. An attachment disordered child's idea of family is defined in very different terms; there will always be a level of fear in that child. On some level they will always be in "survival" mode. And that isn't their fault, but the fault of whatever happened in the bio home that caused that need.

    The best you can do is to change the very reactive behaviors, build living skills & provide a consistent home life.

    I've learned over the last 7 years that you can be a family of different addresses & still be a family. In fact, that may be the healthiest scenario for all concerned - it certainly is here for my twins. It's not what I had hoped for it just is.

    I'm in no way qualified to say yes adopt or no don't adopt. If you choose to go ahead get every service you can think of in your home & be prepared for a run for your money. Keep in mind that you have other children & a marriage to care for as well.

    If you decide that you cannot take this child on, be prepared for CPS to pull both children - to hold that over your head. And given this child's Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), I wouldn't be surprised if the sibling didn't have many of the same issues - just hasn't shown up yet or is buried under his sister's issues.

    Either way, it's a sucky scenario. Either way, it's a position that will be difficult to decide.

    I'll keep you in my thoughts as you ponder this.

    Remember, love doesn't cure all. If it did, we wouldn't need a board of this type.
  13. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Fullhouse, just some things I thought of when reading through the post here. You would need to get a written committment of what kinds of services would be available to this child from the state. Verbal agreements don't count. I believe that most of the children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) that have come through our boards have needed very high levels of services--I'm not just talking seeing a therapist and seeing a psychiastrist. We're talking in-home support, therapeutic school settings and not just the local public school, crisis team intervention, and because they don't function well in the family setting many will require residential therapeutic placements. Those placements are extremely costly and insurance companies often have limits on what they will pay. These are the kinds of costs that wipe out savings accounts and second mortgages or sometimes force parents into aborting the adoption to get kids the services they need, unless like Linda you have a high level of services built in. (and if I recall correctly even Linda has been back to court with issues on this). I don't mean to just focus on the funding because there is a child at stake here, but unless you are extremely wealthy or the costs are agreed to be picked up by the state, it could ruin a family financially.
  14. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    I don't have children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but I want to let you know how glad I am that you're here. Those that have responded have given you excellent, heart-felt advice. I can't comment on what it is like to raise a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). However I do have two difficult children, both with Asperger's and one with bipolar too. I can comment on what it is like to raise difficult children in general terms.

    I feel much like DDD when she said, "the spontaneous joy has been sucked out of our home." I also understand and feel the same way she does about not feeling relaxed in my own home. Raising children in general is challenging at times, but in my humble opinion, raising difficult children is challenging ALL of the time.

    Raising difficult children causes lots of chaos and, in my humble opinion, has a negative impact on each and every family member. Our home life has to be organized around my difficult children's needs. This isn't to say that I don't love my difficult children. I love them with all my heart and try my best to get them the services and supports they need. More than anything else, I want them to be happy, productive, self-sufficient (to the extent they can be), members of society.

    However, trying to obtain appropriate services and supports can at times, be a full time job in itself. It is emotionally draining. As others have already said, it takes a toll on siblings and marriages.

    Much of your personal life becomes an open book when having to deal with psychiatrists, tdocs, social workers, etc. who are trying to help you help raise your difficult children. Another CD member once said it takes a village to raise a difficult child. This statement is so true!!! You lose a great deal of privacy.

    Personally, if I knew beforehand what it would be like to raise difficult children, and had a choice, I wouldn't do it. I know this sounds cruel and heartless. However, this is how I really feel. I wouldn't feel right responding to your post if I didn't say this.

    You are in a tough position. You have so much to think about. Please know, that whatever decision you make, we are here to support you. And, if you decide to adopt, I really can't find the words to tell you what a kind and generous and selfless person you are...WFEN
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Gosh, my gut instinct says go for it, because they already know and trust you, to a point, despite the Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I'd hate to bounce her out again.
    on the other hand, I know exactly what you mean when you say that "the spontaneous joy has been sucked out of our home."
    Those are your two main issues for now.
    If you adopt her, you will be in for a long process but I have seen many successful adoptions with-Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids.
    I also agree that they do well in one-on-one situations. The parent can focus all of their energies on the child and have clear boundaries and rules, and not be distracted by the other kids, or have the other kids' lives disrupted.
    This is a tough one.
    Wish I could be of more help.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I had a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child and he ended up sexually abusing my younger kids. I didn't know he had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) when we adopted him. His report said he was a great kid (he fooled even his psychiatrist) with some cognitive delays (don't believe this for a moment--I think he was very bright). Obviously, we had to let him go. My youngest two kids were traumatized from his sexual abuse, which he hid well and scared the younger kids into not talking about (and, yes, we had that talk about good and bad touches and how Daddy and Mommy would believe them if they ever told us something like that). It's your call, but Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids are very mentally ill and may never get better. It's costly and expensive therapy and love doesn't fix it because Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kids are afraid of your love. They act our even more when you love them. This child was given a great life with us, a stable home, but he got worse with time. We didn't know about the sexual abuse though. By then it was too late. Our younger two kids will always have that memory.
  17. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I have thought about this for a day or so. I can't say that I have ever been on your end of the situation, but I was a foster child for several years as a teen. I got moved around a lot, and many people told me the loved me, and was going to be a part of their family. Then when I didn't know the idiosyncrasies of their family, (like how they did the dishes, or laundry) and things got difficult, it was obvious that I really wasn't a part of their family. Those are the people I resented and still have no time for.

    From my point of view, I think you would do everyone a favor to acknowledge and explore your doubts. Is there some reason that you must adopt these children right now? If you are not ready now with what help and information you have, you're not ready. I'm not saying that you shouldn't adopt, but that maybe you need to be more specific about what types of supports you will need to raise this child. Do you have an attorney who will negotiate hard for you, and for this little girl?

    Maybe now isn't when this little girl needs you the most. Maybe she needs the state (or whoever is involved) to step it up before you take over. Maybe you will have more to offer her in the future. That doesn't mean she has to move out, just that you can set the bar higher for whoever is trying to get you to adopt her to do it correctly.
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    That doesn't mean she has to move out, just that you can set the bar higher for whoever is trying to get you to adopt her to do it correctly.

    Good point.