Monday, March 28, 2011

Gardening RADishes

If you are involved in the adoption world at all, you probably have heard of RAD. If not, let me give you a very brief introduction. RAD stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder. Basically, it a condition or a situation in which a child has difficulty attaching to a caregiver. This can be caused by different things such as failure to establish a relationship with one caregiver as a baby (such as an orphanage situation), traumatic events in a young child's life, or prolonged hospital stays. Obviously, dealing with RAD can be a difficult situation for any parent.

In researching, the MAYO Clinic defines RAD as a serious and RARE condition.

And that is probably true for a "true" diagnosis of RAD.

But if you are in the adoption world, you use this term a bit more loosely.

One of my favorite adoption blogs to read is Wendy's blog. She has dealt with RAD issues with both a biological child and two of her adopted children. She is FULL of RAD advice and just good practical parenting suggestions. One of my favorite things she said (and maybe the most freeing to me) was that RAD doesn't have to be just that child who is totally shut off from the world. It can be in various degrees. She calls it "RADish".

So whether Mayo would define it as RAD or not, I just know that adoption does come with its own set of challenges. And attachment is a big one, especially for the older child coming home.

The funny thing is that attachment issues with my two adoptees shows itself in two different ways. One child has tended to be more detached. We are slowly building up that trust and breaking down the walls that have been built around the heart. The other one is overly attached, as in always within arms length. Well, almost always. And both bring about their own set of challenges.

I still don't have all of the answers. I know that every day it seems like we are a step closer to a more normal attachment. But it is like a roller coaster ride.

All this is coming about because my friend Debbie (who has also adopted a couple of precious girls) recently posted a link on her blog about RAD. It was written by a grandmother.

Click here.

I will say, we are fortunate. Our family is supportive of us, though I know they may not always understand why we are doing what we are doing. Heck, I am not totally sure I understand. We are learning this together.

I do know that parenting children with attachment issues (whether it is truly RAD or not) is a little different than parenting children without. And it is probably easy to judge a parent dealing with such issues based on the behavior of their children.

But judgment is not what that mom needs. She needs prayer. She needs understanding. She needs a helping hand. She needs someone to celebrate the small victories rather than having someone point out the big defeats. She needs someone to say, "Hey, you are getting there. I DO see a difference."

If you have never gardened "RADishes", you are fortunate. However, if you have, no matter what degree, know that you aren't alone. There are more of us out in the garden with you, sowing the seeds of love and attachment and pulling the weeds of frustration, anger, and despair.

Hopefully with enough sunshine (love), water (tears), and soil (the down and dirty, getting in the trenches of parenthood), we will soon have a garden full of...not RADishes but radiant flowers growing with deep roots of love and attachment.



  1. I love the analogy. And as CHRISTIANS in general, when we are dealing with RADs of any sort (sin), judgment is not what we need. Its the prayers, understanding, helping hand that you spoke of!
    I think you guys are very special to do what you do and I am thankful for knowing you both and by being blessed by your stories and watching your children--all of them---grow!
    Keep on Keeping on!!

  2. I needed that reminder. We just got home from Children's Hospital for a sleep study for Asia. Well, she did not sleep, at all! We have been dealing with RAD for almost 6 years now and I have yet to figure it out, but I do know that with God's help we will never give up! B

  3. You are sooo sweet! I wish I was as confident in what I am doing every day as you seem to think I am. It is always a guessing game and as you pointed out, each child is a whole new bag of issues. Gardening our RADishes is two steps forward and one-three steps back. It's a careful dance towards healing. The pain is big but the rewards are so much bigger.

    Hugs to you my friend!

  4. did you write that just for me..? you have such a way with words- you are great! thanks fo being a blog buddy :0)


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