Saturday, November 29, 2008

20/20 special on RAD

I'm sure many of you will be blogging about this one! If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it all online at It's called The Toughest Call (the show) or From Russia with Love - Dealing with Difficult Adoptions (the article). I recommend watching it, it's worth it! It's about international adoption, but that's hardly the point in my opinion. RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder - aka our lives) takes center stage.

My take: It doesn’t show the best or the worst really, but it gives a fair look at RAD, which is what we deal with 24/7. It’s not a great job, but I wasn’t disappointed. Just like it stinks shortening a huge book into a 2 hr movie, how can you summarize a disorder that takes years to understand? Ignore the crap about this being an international adoption thing, it’s about trauma which many (if not all) adoptions are. My Ukrainian child is securely attached while my domestically adopted ones are not, go figure. It's about the history and child, not the politics.
**Interestingly, I personally guarantee the middle child Elena that’s supposedly adjusting just fine is NOT fine, but is the perfect angel just like my EM. She appeared to have very little emotion, just the "super happy no matter what". Her one show of sad looked like fear or nervousness, not really sad. She was abused the most in Russia, so I’m sure she blames herself and will be “better” this time so her parents will be good to her and not make her leave. You’ve seen my girl, she looks completely happy and content. She’d be proud that she convinced you. :)
Sadly, this show didn’t cover at all the positive way to deal with this and help these kids heal, which is the approach that’s saved my sanity and honestly kept me from drinking or killing my child (both discussed on the show). Just the cold, rigid routine which works to a point. It worked for us to stop the really bad stuff in the beginning, but doesn’t let you connect to your kids, which is ultimately what they need to heal.
I’m so glad to say we’ve made huge progress here, but I could easily be that mom in the chair. I’m just so glad I know what’s going on and how to deal with it. Just sometimes wish it were a quick fix and not a lifetime commitment.
I also wish the show came with a list of places to get help. I think the show was meant as a warning to adoptive families to be aware, not as a resource for us, but I bet the tons of RADical parents out there had a-ha moments and will look at this as an “I’m not alone” show. It’s truly amazing the moment you realize that other parents are dealing with it all too. Anyway, I want to send every viewer of that show to for hope!
I’d love to hear your views on the show! Even if you disagree with me, I don’t mind if you’re wrong. Kidding, share!


Diana said...

Thanks for the link. I didn't see it the first time, but I did watch the whole thing this morning.

I, too, had really mixed feelings about it. So much of it hit very close to home. And there was also a lot fo "reading between the lines" stuff I saw, but anyone not dealing with RAD would never seel. Consequently, I also agree - they didn't show the real intensity of RAD. All they showed was a grumpy, whiny kid that looks pretty much just like everyone else's grumpy tween daughter. They didn't show the raging. They didn't show the lying. They didn't show a kid hurling insult after insult after insult at her mother. They didn't show her trying to choke her sister. They didn't show the little brother trying to attack the mom with a knife or physically beat her up. They didn't show him flying off the handle without warning because of PTSD, either.

But, the thing they did do well was show how desperate a family can really get, how scared the parents are - yet how committed they still are to helping their kids heal without giving up. My heart and huge kudos go out to them for this alone. I, too, however, saw a lot of things I used to do myself before I found the right help (BLCL especially). Their story is a true testiment to the world as to why "traditional" parenting methods don't work with these kids, though. You can literally see the fear and resistance and defiance and how they all only escalate the situations all the way through their story. I also agree with you about the perfect daughter as well. The parents have been so overwhelmed with outward manifestations of the other two kids that they missed what their other daughter was telling them.

Unfortunately, they also didn't show the real hope that can come to these kids - and really to the whole family once they finally find the right help and start to heal. Those are the miracles I'm most grateful for and those are what keep us going and keep hope alive.

Christine said...

I think that every parent of RAD was nodding in agreement when one of the mothers talked about the behaviors as a "battering ram." Just nice to have another analogy.

Christine said...

Intersting take. I am in the process of writing up my own take on the show.

*Peach* said...

I am an adult adoptee in reunion and also the Mom of a preemie with attachment issues/sensory issues.

I saw the 20/20 show and was disappointed in the adoptive father following the young adoptee around the house with a video-camera the first week she was there. Anyone would have been running away crying at that point. She didn't know the language or the home or the people, and yet she was being chased by a man with a video-camera at a very vulnerable time. That was my red-flag that these parents were clueless.