Friday, January 27, 2006

Foster care and RAD (subtitle: missing Ann)

I started reading some other blogs recently. I spent a couple of hours yesterday reading "0 to 5" (, crying over Lionmom's painful accounts of raising S, and missing Ann.

S and Ann both have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

RAD kids are exhausting to deal with. My way of understanding it is to imagine having come through a very painful break-up and then dealing with people who expect you to jump right back into a new relationship. You are not ready. If notice that someone is getting interested in you, you back away. If you start feeling interested in someone else you think, "I am just not ready for that yet." It makes sense and for most of us it is a temporary state. For RAD kids it is deep in their psyche. On one hand they want people to like them and so they are charming with strangers. On the other hand any level of intimacy scares the hell out of them.

Any kid who has been in the system is going to get suspicious when you act like you love them. "Yeah, right" they think "She has no idea what I am really like. Let's see if she still says that after I...." They tell some major whoppers, destroy a vacation, "borrow a car" for a joy ride, steal from your purse, break you favorite get the idea. If you are lucky you pass the test and things settle down. At least until they are getting ready to emancipate and need to ease the pain of separation by pissing you off.

RAD kids do that, but what is worse, they go into full panic mode when they start feeling love for you. Loving you means that they can be hurt and every deep internal psychological alarm goes off. Feeling love is for a RAD kid what hearing explosive noises is for a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder. They are in danger and you are the source of that danger. Run! Hide! DESTROY!

Lionmom has been managing wth S. Everyday I want to send her prayers to keep her strong. I know how completely exhausting every day is. You may know that outrageous, vicious, destructive, out-of-control behavior means that you are touching her heart, but that does not mean that you feel loved when she calls you filthy names in public places.

I could not keep Ann because my boys could not take it. I honestly don't know if it was harder that she was mean to them or that they had to watch her being mean to us. She has been in group homes, and put up for adoption at least twice. Unless she decides to contact me again, I have no way of knowing how or where she is.

So I send prayers out to whatever God might listen. "Keep Lionmom's family strong so that they can love S, and please, please...let Ann find a lion mother of her own."

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