I remember wondering about it for several years. When we adopted them we were told they had attachment issues. I think most foster adopt kids do. I was told they worked on these issues. I was sure my little tots, ages 3 and 6, did love me and I loved them fiercely. As they became older it became clearly evident that somthing major was wrong. For Taz around age 7 it became dramatic. He became increasingly distructive to our home. I would hear him in his room distroying his furniture all night. If I went down he would laugh and run. I could catch him and make him lay down but as soon as I'd get up he'd start back. I couldn't function the next day because of no sleep. He becme more and more disruptive at school, very defiant. One day he was carried from the lunch room in a rage. Bear was always quietly defiant. Very passive aggressive. He did not become more openly defiant until his teen years. He is now around 5'10". Taz is about 5'6" at age 15 so will really grow over the next couple of years. I am 5'4" so they are both bigger and stronger than me now. I shudder to think what our lives would be like if we had had no progress in attachment.
What to do? We tried psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists, herbal treatments, chiropractors. Anything and everything we could think of. Nothing made a bit of difference. They were diagnosed with bipolar, intermittent explosive disorder, ADHD, anxiety, depression. No medication helped. No counseling help. Most counseling focused on changing my parenting when I was already doing all the things they would suggest. Frustration..exhaustion..dispair......
We went to an attachment threapist and our lives changed forever. This was combined with EMDR which is a form of trauma therapy. Taz transformed before our eyes. Bear struggled and fought it. His sadness and fear is so turned inward. Taz has his bad days now, but they are NOTHING. NOTHING like what we used to experience. He had a couple of bad mornings this week and I woke yesterday to him making me coffee with a sorrowful look. This morning he was awesome as well. Bear, who we now call Teddy, has taken baby steps. Then he regresses. Baby steps. Then he regresses. He is going to be 18 soon. He does have other disorders that interfere with attachment and make it tougher.
Our lives are good again. Yours can be too. Maybe there is no attachment therapist around. Then read, read, read. Read the blogs listed to the right. Read the websites listed to the right. I have a few books listed to the right but need to update that list!!
Those of you who have been doing this awhile, could you share your favorite book on attachment?
Those of you beginning the healing: here are the first steps.
Focus on attachment, not the lack of it. Empathy: They are reacting our of fear and sadness. Gently say during a quiet time that you understand they are sad and afraid and that you are there to help. Gentle touch: a pat on the shoulder, a hug, loving eyes especially when disciplining, solid boundaries about the big stuff, don't sweat the little stuff.
I will go back to writing some beginning RAD stuff over the next few weeks. Moms put on your thinking caps and help me out. I will be putting links to any articles on beginnng RAD parenting so let me know if you include any of that sort of thing.
Most of all...you are not alone. There are a large bunch of parents who get it. It is hard. It is heartbreaking. You can do this. There is healing. Never, never, never quit.