This work is near and dear to my heart. I'm working as a Foster Parent Aide in a household with children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder. Having come up through the Missouri Division of Family Services as a foster child and then an adopted child I can certainly relate to what these children are experiencing.
The other side of that coin is experiencing life with a RAD child when you, as a parent, also have to learn to live and cope with being Attachment Disordered yourself. It's akin to placing magnets with like poles next to one another - they push away from each other even though they are both magnetic.
For anyone not familiar with Reactive Attachment Disorder, it is the inability to form emotional attachments to another person especially a primary care giver - usually the mother figure.
When I was growing up this wasn't a malady with a name. There was no diagnosis or treatment and very little understanding of the effects of abandonment and/or neglect on a child. Until my daughter was diagnosed with RAD I had heard very little about it. I certainly never dreamed I would be diagnosed with the same problem. I must say it's difficult to teach a child to trust you while you are pushing them away at the same time. I did say it was REALLY HARD WORK!
The wonderful thing is this...with enough work, persistence, and love you can learn to cope with, if not rid yourself, of RAD. My daughter and I now share an incredibly close bond and I'm so thankful to have her in my life. It's truly hard to believe that ten years ago I was seriously thinking of disrupting her adoption and returning her to the foster care system.
RAD is incredibly damaging to the entire family. The afflicted child plays the adults against each other and can inflict serious harm to a marriage. In the end everyone involved is bruised and bloody and an emotional disaster.
We were fortunate to finally discover an awesome Social Worker who specializes in RAD. She turned our lives upside down and completely around.
Years ago I wrote a poem about the feelings I experienced growing up. Basically a RAD person spends their entire life waiting for "the other shoe to drop." Not just waiting but fully expecting to be rejected or abandoned, and building a protective shell to ward off love from the people you most want to love you. I first named the poem "Emotion" and later revised and renamed it "The Bruised Heart". I designed a pendant in honor of the RAD child. I think there are a lot of us out there!
This is a photo of the "Bruised Heart" pendant I designed and the description I wrote for my Flickr page and my Etsy store...... "This heart has special meaning for me and if you've ever known someone with Attachment Disorder, who's been adopted, or abused and has trouble forming relationships...this heart is in honor of them.
The heart is a Dog tooth Amethyst named for the jagged edges that form between the Milky Quartz and the Purple Amethyst. Attachments begin forming while the mother feeds her child and eye contact is made. Trust begins. The Milky Quartz symbolizes feeding. In some of the hearts you'll see streaks of Citrine - which is the same as Amethyst until it is heated inside the earth's crust. Then the magic happens and Amethyst becomes Citrine. This process cannot be duplicated in Laboratories! Amazing huh?! Change happens when warmth and love are given. The bruised heart changes.
At the bottom of each heart is a Swarovski Crystal Teardrop, a reference to the tears of a child in the poem that will accompany the necklace.
I've used Black Satin Cord to symbolize the connection between a mother and her child. It is finished with Sterling Silver end wraps and handcrafted Sterling Silver hook and loop. Each pendant comes with a bookmark featuring the poem.
For those of you whom suffer from RAD....please do not lose hope! You can do this! For those of you expecting your first child...please take the time to bond with your child while they are still infants. Make eye contact and appreciate the wonder of the love you have for your baby.
If you'd like to know more please click on this link: http://www.radkid.org/