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Residential Care for Reactive Attachment Disorder?

When dealing with Reactive Attachment Disorder and Looking into Residential Care, I wish I had a Ranch.

This is s blog post I wrote for the January 2023 edition of The Radish Ranch's newsletter. If you are reading this in 2035, it will still have great points and ideas.


He was three when he came. We had been longing for him. We opened our home to a boy and his big sister.

They were both beautiful and smart. I loved them at first sight.

Registering for pre-school and unpacking clothes were how we spent the weekend. I was instantly overwhelmed with my new kiddos – especially J. Running, opening cabinets, and opening the front door were favorite past times for this young boy. He had so much energy. He had no hearing. Or listening?

My husband, thankfully, assisted me in the goings-on and cooking and monitoring the new children. He took them outside; he facilitated getting their school clothes ready for Monday. We had our first nightly devotion reading and prayer; we kissed them good night.

About ready to pass out from the day, we heard jumping on the bed.

The next Monday morning, I had children walking behind me just like ducks. I was the mother and had my briefcase; they had their backpacks.

I felt relief when I finally sat down at my desk.

My concerns arose when the boy would not listen to me.

He just ran like a motor. He ran like an Energizer battery bunny motor.

Trouble was his middle name. From stopping up the toilet with paper to eating off the floor to ripping pages from a book were the most common of issues. There was also the hitting, kicking, and running.

“He will get better after we can adopt him.” I thought nightly.

It didn’t take long to discover we were not keeping J in PreK. He was expelled.

The new babysitter and her assistant were heaven sent. They taught him how to spell his colors, add, and much more. He was treated like a baby there and did well. There were so many activities… without any responsibility of sitting still. When he did get in trouble there, they would baby him, feel sorry for him. J would look at the babysitter with those beautiful dark brown eyes. He did well.

We had additional concerns that we thought would be eliminated after adoption. When we could spank him, we felt that we could make a bigger impact and he would listen better. I had other mothers of boys tell me this corporal punishment is what he would need. We would realize early on that spanking made no difference either.

This adoption would not come soon enough in some ways, yet it came too quickly to figure out that there were real issues.

Most of our issues were simply unexplainable. I attempted to cuddle him before a nap. I would try to rock him. He would stiffen up in just an awkward way. I thought, “Oh, he doesn’t like to be rocked or held; that is ok…”

A few years went by. Nothing got better. The more we tried to train him, love on him, and reward him, the more difficult he became

J was always defiant, especially to me. He seemed afraid of my husband, yet challenged me every hour. When he was little, he was so cute but would scream and cry and never do what was asked of him. He would never comply and just make everyone’s life easy – including his own.

He was a bully at home, yet J would go up to a stranger at the baseball park and ask for a drink of their soda as friendly as could be. Almost a different personality would appear. He would go toward strangers (while I cringed) and start conversations like he had found his long-lost best friend.

He would get very angry with me every time I told him, “No.”

I did everything I could to help him; including a special diet, vitamins, psychological testing, ADHD testing, counseling, medications, therapy, being strict, being lenient, extra chores, extra rewards, special trips. And the list could go on.

I had no idea about RAD until we had an incident at 10 years old.

He had to be taken to a mental hospital. He was there for a week. We were asking questions about his stay and if he processed what had occurred. The diagnosis was a short and sweet “RAD”. No explanations or advice, but matter-of-fact.

After we picked him up, we set up in-home therapy. Finally, he had a trustworthy, male therapist which I thought would help. He responded better to my husband, so I thought the male would be better.

After a while, we received our second CPS visit due to his allegations of abuse and starvation. He told a counselor that his dad, my husband, had beat him with the belt. We were investigated three times total.

I had had enough. My husband had enough. We sought a residential treatment facility.

He was there 12 months, no progress; in fact, he was worse. We did not know about an attachment facility. In 18 months, we sent him away for another 12 months, and finally, a different one for 6 more months. Nothing worked with these placements either. He was not successful there; he did not put any work into it. He got in fights, did property damage, argued and spit on staff, hacked computers, and much more.

Residential Care for Reactive Attachment Disorder

Here is a look at a regular residential facility example::

I wish someone would have told me reactive attachment disorder required a different mindset. Traditional therapy doesn’t work. Residential Care doesn’t work. Residential Psychiatric Care doesn’t work.

We had done all we knew for this child, and he was no better.

I felt responsible. Guilt gripped me daily.

No matter what happened to him before he came here, I was so determined - in the beginning. But after seven years of rejection and pushing the limits on what we could allow in our home, we made the saddest decision a parent would have to make. We had to choose between our younger children and him. He needed real help, more than we were capable of giving. J needed 24/7 monitoring.

Residential Care for Reactive Attachment Disorder

If we had The RADish Ranch, we could have used that the first time to get the real help that he needed- the attachment piece. The ranch would have let us rest yet heal him. If you are looking into residential care for reactive attachment disorder, check out this RANCH, visit their website here

I have learned so much about RAD, adopting, fostering and mental health. There is so much that I could write about, and I did. I wrote a book on all the issues that are left out of foster training. I’d love to get you a copy. will take you to a place to sign up for notifications of the book release. Email me at to let me know your feelings on RAD or anything else! Or just send me a note. I’ll reply!

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Impressing Minds is about creating value in the mind of a child through the foster parents. Imagine the mind of a child being made of play-doh, and you are about to make a permanent impression. What type of impression will you make? I will encourage you to make a soft, lasting, affirmative impression in their mind by giving tools to get started fostering, accomplishing a great foster care home, and serving the children in your care. I offer support to you and others fostering. An important element of Impressing Minds is the support that others have given to those in need.


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