For those who don’t know Daniel Hughes, he is an amazing doctor who helps families and children heal and overcome Reactive Attachment Disorder with their kiddos. His practice is out of Gray Maine, and he has written a few books one of which is Building The Bonds of Attachment. We have been trying to get in to see him since Little R came home. Seeing Dan was not an option but we were able to get in to see one of his protégé’s. We found a Dan Hughes trained therapist in our area and after many months we have been able to establish treatment with her.
I read his book Building the Bonds of Attachment as a requirement for adopting Little R as she exhibited a lot of the behaviors the book described. I was terrified. I remember emailing our social working and saying. “The character Katie in the book, I would say is a 10 on a scale of 1-10 for behavior, where would you put little R?” The social worker told me that in her last placement they would put her as an 8 or so. Now having Little R in our home I would say she was around an 8 last year and now is around a 5.
We have tried to “handle” Little R on our own, with counseling of 3 different people and from advice of others, books and the internet. What we have realized is that Little R needs more than we could provide and more than what a counselor can provide that does not have extensive experience with RAD. We finally believe we have found “the one” and feel a sense of relief. She gets us and we trust her methods.
For the first four visits or so the therapist meets with just the parents to work with them to establish a new routine in the home. She teaches us how to respond to the negative behaviors in a therapeutic way and works with us on our hurt that Little R has caused us so we can prepare to get into the REAL work that will take place with Little R once the therapist starts to work with her. I have never been to therapy but this has been the best thing I have done in the last year for our Little R. I have spent the last year barely staying afloat. Some days I feel like I am drowning in all the tantrums, screaming, arguments, and correction that go on in our home. My little R is struggling with her regulation daily, her aggression in school, she has tried to run away at school and home. She curses and hits me and says some of the most awful things. Some days I struggle to love her and be around her because she causes such turmoil in our lives. There are days I have regretted making the decision to adopt her and feel locked in a prison inside myself and fight to find something positive in Little R.
The therapist validated my feelings and Mike’s and told us we are justified in the way we feel, however we need to look for the Joy in each day and have moments of unconditional Love for Little R were the wrongs of the day do not play a part in our affection toward her. So, I took my homework and I started to examine why we even adopted Little R and it is simple I do this and keep at it, because deep down I do love her. I am so proud of the progress she has made. To others it may seem small in comparison to the big picture but I am taking the small things right now, because that is all I have. Little R no longer punches and kicks me. Little R no longer throws objects at me. Little R tantrums 3 out of 7 days now instead of all 7. Little R is able to come and say sorry were months ago that never happened. Little R is now polite in restaurants and uses her table manners most of the time. Little R has started to snuggle with Mike and seek him out.
There is hope mom’s. Those of you who are at the beginning of your journey and are seeing the long road ahead, there is hope. We have started to build the bonds of attachment with Little R and we are seeing some progress. It will take years, but take one day at a time and look for the small victories in each day. Seek out help and advice. Find a good RAD therapist and trust them to help you. It is lonely by yourself . Day in and day out dealing with RAD kids is exhausting and taxing on your body and mind. Give yourself time to grieve what you have lost and then look forward to the future of what will be. These kids need us, if we don't help them who will?
Little R is making progress. She is growing and we are beginning to see healing. I thank God every day that he gives me the strength to get up out of bed and face a new day.