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Q: In your opinion, is RAD overly diagnosed as the answer to every problem? How come that RAD is suddenly found in families after sometimes years of a child being a part of this family?
 
A: RAD probably is overly diagnosed. Every child and every parent will have some adjustments to make in the bonding process. The adjustments will vary for each child and parent, as personalities differ. How quickly, or how smoothly, or if they will at all move through the process of attaching is as variable as the number of children who are adopted. Every child brings his or her own experience to the process, so each child will have a different attaching experience even were they all attaching to the exact same person. The reason that some children, who have been here a number of years, are just now being diagnosed with attachment issues is basically threefold. First, it may take years of slow progression toward attachment to finally realize that movement has ceased or is so slow as to be no longer discernible. Again, there are innumerable reasons for this to be apparent years later: increased facility of language, cessation of other major life issues, which seemed to have been complicating attachment (learning disabilities, depression, physical problems, etc.), completion of therapies, etc. Second, the child may have hit a new milestone, or life crisis, or level of awareness, which effectively "raises the bar" so high that there is a setback within family relationships. This could be frustration with new academic milestones that can't be easily mastered. It could be a flood of new hormones with the onset of puberty, it could be an issue within the family that causes the child to "relive" the trauma of previous abandonment or abuse. Again, there are any number of these variables. Third and maybe most important, there is an increasing awareness within the psychological and medical communities about the issues of attachment. With that awareness and knowledge of symptoms, more and more psychologists, psychiatrists, and pediatricians will be identifying and qualifying symptoms as attachment issues and suggesting that we, as parents, seek out treatment for these issues. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that our children are suddenly unattached after years of fairly normal family dynamics. It does mean that we do need to "revisit" some issues that may not have been entirely resolved, because they were buried in the back of the closet until present.
There are IA children, who are so damaged when they are adopted that they are completely unable to make any kind of connection to a primary caretaker. But most of the time, the issues are somewhere between there and secure attachment. Like lots of things, it's a question of degrees. Some may never be able to overcome the trauma, but many do, although probably not without a good fight, dedication, and support. Educate yourself, do your best, know your limitations, and be prepared to work hard in case you need to.
 

 

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Last update on September 12, 2017

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