A Parent's Perspective

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A Parent's Perspective
by Jody Hansen-Walker

Hello, my name is Jody Hansen-Walker. I am a foster parent and adoptive parent in NY. I would like to share with you my experience with a RAD child.

My son Daniel came into our lives when he was 12 yrs old. After about a year, things still seemed a bit off with Dan. He was semi-compliant but didn't seem to whole-heartedly care about things and carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. When asking him to do the simplest of tasks, he would make it a blown out war or do things the wrong way on purpose. He had been in 18 different foster homes, placed in 3 pre-adopt situations, and found it easier to just call everyone mom and dad so that he didn't need to learn their names.

It got to be crazy in my home and I didn't like this kid anymore. I wanted him out! He would push my buttons on everything and even tried to be sexually inappropriate with my 11 yr old son to see if he could get a rise out of me. Believe me, I was losing my mind. I became an ANGRY person and all my child experience went right out the window. Who was this person I saw in the mirror everyday??

We went through FIVE therapists and fired them ALL!! Finally, I went to a workshop and heard Dr. Becker-Weidman speak. I felt like he was living in my house, that he was a fly on the wall, and telling everyone what was going on in my home! To say the least, I set up an appointment.

After a few testing sessions, he diagnosed Daniel as having Reactive Attachment Disorder. Finally...an answer, but now what?! Our first three months of therapy were hard for me. This is TOTALLY different from what any of the "conventional methods". He told me to stay out of Daniel's school business and let the school handle that stuff. (This was absurd to me!! My kid goes to private school, all the teachers know how dedicated and involved we are with our kids, now this guy is asking me to butt out!!). Well after three months I finally did exactly what I was told. Dan would come home and try to engage me into a confrontation by telling the bad grades he got or the behavior issues he had at school, it took everything in me to NOT re-act. Boy it felt good to just say...
"How sad for you Dan, what are you going to do about it?" I thought the kid was gonna hit the floor! He looked at me like I had three heads. That's when I felt like I was getting my life back. Dan's therapy went quick. He was released after nine months and boy what a difference.

I will tell you that RAD therapy is "a family affair". Everyone has to be on the same page and we as parents have A LOT of "home-work" that needs to be done to help our child to heal. Sure there are days when I see him slip into old behaviors when he is stressed. But now I have the skills/tools to focus him again.

Daniel is almost 16 now. He guest speaks with me from time to time and is being an "average" hormonal pain in the butt teenager. He is soooo attached to me that there are times I feel like he is glued on me!! But I couldn't change it for a moment. He's come a long way and now has opened his heart to feel love and to enjoy what life has to offer. It saddens me to know that I ad thought about disrupting this adoption three years go.

My closing thoughts for you parents out there.... no matter how experienced or not you are with adoption, child psychology, what-ever,... if you feel that your therapist isn't doing the job, look somewhere else. No matter what your caseworker says. You are the parent, and it is YOUR job to get answers and to get help. Network with other parents. Get educated and use the information. You are this child parent for the rest of their lives!!!!

Credits: Jody Hansen-Walker

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