Bgcenter logo
Center for cognitive-developmental assessment and remediation
Psychological services for internationally adopted children
Site Map Psychological
Dr. Gindis
Articles Directory Questions
& Answers
Publications of Dr. Gindis
Contacts &

RAD Discussion

From a message to Dr. Gindis

From: Marolyn Morford PhD
Sent: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 7:49 PM
Subject: Your website

...The Family and Attachment Center of Provo Utah group and many others who claim to understand adopted or foster children have used the Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis improperly, and, as you see from the list of symptoms, actually include most of any child's difficult behaviors, adopted or not. This then often leads to inappropriate treatment by unqualified individuals and by parents. My concern is that we have many nonlicensed 'therapists' trotting out this term RAD and applying it to children with behavior problems or to their newly adopted school-age child, placing a huge burden on the child (it's their problem of course) and prescribing inappropriate treatments that focus on forcing the child to 'attach' to the new parents, rather than waiting the long time it may require for such trust and attachment to normally develop. It also has many foster parents and adoptive parents eyeing their child suspiciously and with fear. It has parents telling other adults (such as family friends or teachers) to avoid being friendly with their new child (so as not to interfere with the 'bonding' they are trying to accelerate). Many children survive institution or foster care, only to be emotionally assaulted by 'parents' who are focusing on their own emotional needs, rather than the child's.

There is no empirical or clinical support (and certainly no medical support) for the wide range of symptoms on this list (that appears everywhere when people--not clinical psychologists-- talk about RAD) to be applied to any child. It does a great disservice to the thousands of children who survive and thrive due to their longer term inheritance of human resilience...

Best regards,
Marolyn Morford, PhD
Center for Mental Health/Child Development Consulting
110 Radnor Road, Suite 101
State College PA 16801

From a message to Dr. Gindis

From: Marolyn Morford PhD
To: Boris Gindis
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 1:19 PM
Subject: Re: Your website

.... logic tells us that the popular discussion of RAD is not correct. It makes the common error of causality from correlation (a child is difficult AND the child was in foster care/institutional care, THEREFORE foster care/institutional care CAUSED the child's behavior problems. Not to mention the problem that there is an ASSUMPTION that attachment was disrupted and this disruption CAUSED the behavior problems. Not to mention the additional problem: the ASSUMPTION that the particular model of therapy offered by them will improve the children's behavior.

There are so many other explanations: genetic, temperament-caretaker mismatch, familial (parent to child) personality characteristics, among others.....

From the reply of Dr. Gindis

From: Boris Gindis
To: Marolyn Morford PhD
Sent: Friday, October 04, 2002 9:52 PM
Subject: Re: Your website

Dear Dr. Morford,
Thank you for your informative message. I could not agree more with you regarding RAD issues. In my ongoing communications with parents (workshops, individual in-office consultations, and Internet-based consultations) I always stress that the Family and Attachment Center understanding of RAD (popular among adoptive parents) is too inclusive, ignores the social and cultural components (e. g. learned behavior of surviving in post-institutionalized children), and interferes with the differential diagnoses and the most appropriate treatment of behavioral/emotional issues in post-institutionalized children.

Parents' Letter

From: Claudia Auer
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2003 4:49 PM
Subject: RAD

As an adoptive parent of two children who arrived from Russia at 10 years of age, I am sometimes appalled at the number of postings I see on the adoption lists looking for "cures" for RAD. Some parents are even reporting placing their children in residential treatment facilities in order to effect such a cure. How can you bond with a child if you place your child in an institution? Isn't institutional life part of the problem to begin with? Not to make ourselves out as saints - we are not, but - When our two kids arrived from Russia, about 16 months apart, we had a very rough go of it in the beginning. Daily tantrums, BIG drag-the-drapes-to the-floor tantrums, lessons in lying, stealing, playing fair with other children. But, had we expected only peace and harmony? What family, however conceived, has permanent peace and harmony? And for our two kids, having grown up in an indifferent institution with no one to count on, no real schooling to keep their brains active, no knowledge of the world outside the world of Dyetski Dom unless they were bussed off to wave flags in a parade - how could we expect that they would be other than the fierce, resilient creatures that they were? What did they know of love, of softness, of trust and relaxation? It was up to us, we reasoned, to provide them with that knowledge. In order to do that, we sometimes had to be soft when they were fierce, relaxed when they were stormy, loving when they hated us the most. In the end, they came to us when they were hurt, or when they had a special joy to share. They still do. But there was much heartache at the beginning. I don't think any kind of therapy or medication could have changed that. My husband and I joked that the most difficult times were our labor pains; he objected strongly to having to share them with me. (Joke.) (Sort of.)

From the reply of Dr. Gindis

From: Boris Gindis
To: Claudia Auer
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2003 10:16 AM
Subject: RAD

You are saying that RAD is (mostly) a learned "orphanage-induced" behavior that must be rehabilitated in family environment. This was my position for years, and I am so glad to hear from someone "in trenches, who was there and has done this" that they think and feel the same way. There are, of course, some extreme cases (where RAD is only a part of the problem), which must be treated in a highly specialized milieu like a residential facility.
But this is an exception that confirms the rule: RAD has to be treated by living in a family and acquiring family experience. It does not exclude an outside therapy - but the main support comes from parents.



Psychological services for internationally adopted children. Copyright ©1998-2018
Last update on May 8, 2018