Monday, November 5, 2012

A Hard Road

This is, to date, the most difficult blog post I have written.  Why?  It's open and raw.  It will be the cause of a lot of opinions, judgements, harsh comments, and gossip.  But it's true.  And I promised to be open and honest here.  At the same time, I know all of my children will read this some day.  I'm going to try to tread carefully.

Alan and I have been debating on how much information to share about our family.  It's hard to get personal, because you open your family unit to so much criticism. At the same time, it has been extremely frustrating to try and find out information about our situation.  What I would like to concentrate on in this post is information and education. 
In the above picture, do you see that sullen boy to the right? It's our oldest son.

Our oldest son has a severe case of Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Our youngest son has a mild case.  This is an introduction to RAD.

These are the symptoms and causes:

If you really want to know a little bit about life with a RAD child, here is a letter to an adult that may work with that child, like a teacher.  I include it because Yohannes does so many of the things she talks about in this article.  Please read it if you want to become informed!!!:

In the previous article, we are seeing the following (one of many), which she mentions:
"What you may see as a teacher is a child who is, initially, surprisingly charming to you, even seeking to hold your hand, climbing into your lap, smiling a lot, you're delighted you are getting on so well with such a child. "
Our sons can definitely be charming.  It's a classic symptom of RAD- Indiscriminate affection.  Paulos, especially, will hug anyone and go with any person.  He has not made sufficient connections with me and Alan yet.  Yohannes will obey and smile at people for a while.  Then, once he feels comfortable with you, will begin controlling and manipulative behavior.

"They may express an offhand or even seemingly sincere "sorry,” but will likely do the same thing again tomorrow. They are not motivated by self or parental pride, normal reward and punishment systems simply do not work. "
Oh yeah, we experience this every day.  The way we parent our bio children just does not work with a RAD child.  That is difficult to explain to anyone. 

If you'd like to know how I'm feeling, read this page:'re_Not_Alone.htm
Alan and I are between numbers 6 and 7 on the grief scale at the bottom of the page. 

I could share all the gory details about day to day life with our son.  In the future, I may do a "day in the life of a RAD child" post.  The wild-animal-like screaming and thrashing, throwing furniture, knocking things off tables, sending items flying across the room, punching and kicking furniture and walls, yelling at his brothers, hurting himself, the list goes on and on.  For hours.  Tonight I'd like to ask for prayer.  PRAYER.

It has been difficult to have counselors tell us that they wish our son had been placed in a home with no other children because he needs 24/7 one-on-one care that we can not give.  That our choices are: to let the other 4 kids go and focus solely on him, focus on the other 4 and try to get through the next 7 years until he turns 18, look into residential care when he hits adolescence, or consider an adoption disruption and put him with another family who can give him the round-the-clock focus he will have to have to heal.  Paulos is headed down the same road, but we are praying that earlier intervention will help him.

What do we do?  We don't know.  We just honestly don't know right now.  Of course we want to fight for Yohannes.  But what does that look like?  We have no idea. 

Read and pray.  Feel free to ask questions, but please try not to judge what you think we are doing wrong/right with our parenting.  It's hard enough with loving support, much less with criticism.  If you think you may know another family who has a child with RAD, look into becoming educated to be a safe listening ear.  Safe people are few and far between. 

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." - James 1:5

Please join us in praying for wisdom for our family.  This is spiritual warfare, friends!!  If you have a church prayer list, please add our family to it.  If you are a member of a small group, please pray for us in your group, especially Yohannes.  If you do personal prayer time, please, please pray for our family.  I would love to come back a few years from now and tell you how much prayer changed our lives. 

Will you stand with us?  Will you intercede for us?  We need you, body of Christ. We can not do this alone. 


  1. Dawn- I know we have never met and my dear friend Tiffany Darling shared your blog today. I will not say I understand what you are going through but I will pray. I will cover your family in prayers and beg the Lord of all Creation to give you wisdom.

  2. Dawn, Please know that I'm lifting you up tonight. I honestly cannot imagine what your whole family is going through. Praying for wisdom and peace in your home and claiming this:

    Psalm 40:1-3
    I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.

    He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
    he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.

    He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.

    Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

  3. We are praying for your family . Is there a day we could bring a meal to you all ?

  4. Your family is so beautiful, as is your example of obedience in following God's call to adopt your sons. A friend posted a link and asked that we pray for you, so I came over. I will be reading the links you posted and praying for your family. My husband and I are open to God's call to adopt in the future (probably still a couple years down the road), and we will obey God's call regardless of the cost, but RAD is one of the things that terrifies me - a friend's parents have adopted several children (my friend has children the same age as her parents adopted children), and they are going through a very difficult time with a pre-teen child with RAD right now, too. Thank you for sharing your heart, and the links to educate!! And such good points about not judging people's parenting - you never know what special situations or special needs their child may have!!

  5. Oh, Dawn. Oh, my sister. I want to hug you and cry with you. I am so mad for you.

    --I truly hope that by sharing your heart and struggles and reality that you have not received any criticism or backlash. I pray that we, as the Body, take the information and pray specifically for you and your family.

    --You are educating us, Dawn. I'd never heard of RAD until this post. Now, I bet I've seen some tendencies in some of my adoptive friends' kids. I'm even thinking of one that came from a messed up family that may have had some RAD symptoms. Your sharing this is opening my eyes. Thank you, thank you!!

    --I don't have a clue what I'm talking about except to say: Don't put any part of your situation in a box. I feel a need to say that to you. No matter what a book says or websites or even counselors, you are the momma. Be free in the name of Jesus to do what He is telling you to do on His clock, in His time frame. Don't worry about time. He stretches time and restores time.

    Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

    I pray so much for you to experience peace in your family that surpasses all understanding. That means that you may have a peace about a situation that no one, not even the Christians, can understand. You do what you have to do for your family and YOUR MARRIAGE and stand firm in it.

    I love you.

  6. As the mother of a RAD 7 year old (who has a mild case, only episodes of what you are experiencing) I am on my knees before the throne of grace for you. It could be easy to forget that God created you to be Yohannes mother. God is our healer, that includes his physically, mentally & emotional healing. I am pleeding with the Lord to intervene on your whole families behalf.

  7. I am so sorry. So sorry. We too are dealing with RAD in our household. Our three oldest children were brought home from Russia. The second...he's now six...has had a severe case of it for quite some time. Broken furniture, broken windows, trying to kill puppies, holes in walls from punching them with his head, paint peeled off in multiple areas, terrorized two other children, and the list could go on and on and on. We finally reached the end of ideas this past summer and went to a camp in Colorado. Since then we have been doing intense therapeutic parenting and seeing some drastic positive results. We have received so much criticism (if you just love them they'll turn around) but knew that this was s situation where some professional help was needed. It is so hard. Our son was threatening our two other children (ages seven and three) to the point that they quit sleeping cause they were scared of what he was going to do to them. To make matters a little more complicated, God blessed us with a surprise baby in July. :) It's been a stressful time, but GOD IS ABLE. If you'd like to have a place to vent, feel free to e-mail me.
    Praying for you today.

  8. Heavenly Father,
    I pray for Dawn and her family, that You would sustain them during this difficult time in their journey. I pray for their biological children, that they might be touched and changed in unimaginable ways that would lead to Your glory. I pray for Paulos and Yohannes, that You would work miracles in their hearts and minds and take this affliction from them. If there is any other way, Lord, intervene; but if not, then have Your way; and may this family and all that surround them be strengthened by their trust in You and Your good Will. May they see, in Your time, the ways in which this situation, however difficult, is working for the good of Your kingdom.
    In the Name of Jesus,

  9. Dawn, continuing to pray for you and your family. You HAVE support in this.

  10. Dear Dawn,
    Your long-time friend Lindsay G. forwarded this post to me. I too have adopted four children and have three biological children of my own. There are issues with my oldest daughter very similar to the ones you describe. She was adopted when she was three and was left alone at night frequently when she lived with her birth mom as she ventured out into the night to abuse drugs. This left her with many things to deal with. Consequently, our family is faced with a lot as you well know. The Lord has healed many issues, but there are still things that need healing. I totally understand what you meant by having to parent these children differently than our bio children. Standard parenting procedures don't work on children that have been through trauma. I know that we can take authority in Jesus's name over generational curses that have been passed down. I would encourage you to do that if you haven't already. I know our Lord is faithful and hears your prayers. I have forwarded your story to another adoptive mom that has a similar story. We will both commit to praying with you. Blessings, Carol

  11. Hey Dawn. This is Ken Roberts. I wanted to say that your entire family is on my heart and in my prayers. You know our special needs situation and although they are different there are many similar situations that we have had to deal with over the years of raising Steven. Uneducated comments from others and the disruption of a "normal" family life just to name two. Dottie and I have been through a lot of what you are and will be experiencing as you strive to help your natural and adoptive kids become Godly adults able to cope with the world. We are here any time you need to talk. We love you all.

  12. I'm not in your shoes and have no place to be so presumptuous as to think to judge you or the choices you have to make. No one does. All I can say is I love you, believe in you and will be ardently and passionately praying for your family.

  13. Dawn and Alan -

    I am so happy that you have found a source of information so you can pray and make educated choices for you and your children. I have been praying for you since the beginning and I will pray for God's divine leading and guidance in this new bend in the road on your journey. No you are not alone and that you are prayed for daily.

    It is hard being a parent of a RAD child (I was never told that my child was a RAD child - but reading the wonderful links I know that she suffers from this disorder). So know someone is praying for you with the experience and knowledge of the some of the challenges you might be facing on a daily basis.

    So I leave you with this thought -

    Jeremiah 29:11

    "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

    I hope you can cling to that verse it has gotten me through many a rough day just knowing that my Father has plans for me and gives me hope.


  14. came across this today in my study:

    Psalm 34:17-19
    New International Version (NIV)
    17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
    18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
    19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;

    may it bring you peace~

  15. I am sharing your blog site with a few friends, b/c you so beautifully pen what is in their hearts and mine. Although my adopted girls are now adults - we faced similar challenges (they were 12 & 13.5) when they joined our family 10 years ago this next week.

    I just saw today another one of those "adoption" videos of a large, mixed, seemingly all-the-time happy family and thought to myself "really?" As you started off - "I don't want to discourage anyone from adoption"- but I do think it's important to share the difficulties as well. I hope to meet you in person soon. I've gotten to know Shauna this semester and she said she might create an opportunity for us to all have dinner.

    God equips those whom HE calls. Praise be to Him!