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What is it like to live with a RAD child?

Here is a compilation of thoughts, comments, scenarios, and my own personal mix all built-in so you will know what is it like to live with a RAD child? I am in multiple groups and offer a lot of advice in the groups. I have had conversations with a friend in person. Many of these are from my own life.


The purpose of this is so someone can understand the scenarios that living with a RAD child entails. And, try to imagine all of these in one child circling back. Day after day, you are dealing with the same issues.


What is it like to live with a RAD child? stealing

Stealing and hoarding food/treats is a way of life. My RAD will hide food items and eat them during the night, then hide the trash in his bed and in other places throughout the house. RAD was neglected and malnourished and did not have access to any real food for the first 3 years... But why hide the trash? Why steal food when I lay out snacks for all the kids.


RAD habitually steals items - predominantly sugary foods and/or electronics.


A child with RAD appears kind, caring and compassionate with strangers. With you, they react negatively to your attempts at bonding.

These kids with RAD, in the past, did not know where their next meal was coming from or even if they will have any food. I think that maybe part of why they steal or hoard food in their rooms. The children I have were like that for two years. They finally figured out we actually have food and they have access to it. They can eat whenever they want. However, one RAD still hides food everywhere in her room. I just keep reassuring them they can have all the food they want.


RAD is trying to sneak out of her room at all hours of the night. She hoards food when we provide her with good-sized, regular meals. She's now acting up at school by not listing, getting out of her seat without being called on, lying about doing her work, refusing to do her work, and hiding under her deck. She is also being disrespectful to her teachers and rude to her speech therapist.


My son stole $75 from his sister and hid it in a hole in the wall (a hole that he punched). He also stole his sisters' used Chapstick's, condiments from the kitchen, batteries, paperclips, office supplies in general, and pretty much anything in reach.


What is it like to live with a RAD child? false Allegations

Our almost 15-year-old adopted RAD is telling the school we abuse her. When CPS visited us here at our home, I have never felt so upset. I have videos (because we have cameras), pictures, and bins full of proof we do not abuse her. She needs help.


Our daughter with RAD ran away from home today. There were freezing temperatures! She had no coat. Someone saw her and obviously called the police. She was a couple of miles away from our house by then. I guess protective services will blame us for this.


RAD has called me names, smeared poop everywhere, yelled or screamed every chance she’s gotten, lied to her teachers at school about some bruises, and explained we don’t feed her. Lies. But they are mandatory reporters, so we are now facing a child protective services case.


My son told his therapist that his dad beat him with the belt buckle. We had a case opened up against us. This was the first of three times he made allegations to mandatory reporters. He also told my friends' daughter that we did not feed him and treat him worse than the other children.


What is it like to live with a RAD child?


Violence - physical or verbal - toward the parent


Common problem with RAD kids threatening their parents, so put a lock on your door while you sleep!

RAD doesn’t WANT to do school and his greatest motivator is to not do school, get in trouble just to be sent to his room - to chill. This doesn’t work because that is what he wants, so I have to keep him with me. Then he screams, throws things, yells horrible things at me. He kicks, throws tantrums on the ground, rips schoolwork up, throws food on the walls...

What is is like to live with a RAD child?

I feel so awful and like I have failed him as a parent. I don't understand what he's going through or the best course of action to help him. He is on medications and he takes them regularly. I'm disrespected, mumbled at, hollered at, doors slammed at me, "stomped at", and more. He breaks things, lies, etc.


The school called; he won't do schoolwork (virtual school). His grades are suffering terribly. Three days ago he became physically violent and attacked my fiance (over schoolwork). He has no recollection of most of what happened. He began saying he wanted to harm himself. I had no choice but to take him to the hospital. He is now an inpatient in a children's psych hospital.


25 holes punched in the wall. Then he would urinate in them.


What is it like to live with a RAD child?


Traditional therapy doesn't work

RAD has been in juvenile detention for several months. We are currently looking for a residential treatment center for him that specializes in reactive attachment disorder. We can't find one in our state, so we are now looking out of state. The devastating fact is that there aren't many attachment facilities that take the state insurance which is what most adopted children have. Some charge thousands of dollars a month.


Traditional therapy doesn't work with RAD children.

He is in therapy but refuses to talk about his trauma. He says if he pushes it down it will go away. As a survivor of abuse myself, I understand this isn't how it works. I don't know how to help my own child.

One mom needed to explain in a 'healthy' way to her child why he was placed in a residential facility? She would like to try to explain but need to make sure to chose words carefully. RAD will twist words and use them against the parent.


Just when you think, as parents, you are making progress, you end up right back where you started. I haven't been this angry in so long, because we've been blessed that she was in a therapy center and then recommended to go to a group home. I feel like we are starting over.


RAD's thinking is "stuck", and he can't seem to be flexible enough to change it.


What is it like to live with a RAD child? prefers others to parental figures...

My young son went up to a stranger and asked for a drink of their soda.


My RAD and I were doing her schoolwork together. We were laughing and eating snacks, then, my friend stops by. When RAD gets a hug from her, she gives my friend an "I'm pathetic, sad, gloomy, desperate, 'help me'" face.


My boy became so attached to a foster kid that was in our home for one week (for respite care) that he wrote on his wall several times "I miss you Johnny." in BIG bright ink. He acted depressed for a month after he left. He also would write random letters to a boy from a week-long camp that had happened years before. We hadn't seen that family for five or six years.


What is it like to live with a RAD child? mood dysregulation

I've got a 15-year-old daughter with a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder. She can be so kind, compassionate, and very sweet on some days, yet NOT the next. Jekel and Hyde. Defiant, awful. She will skip school, refuse to work while at school, exhibits risky behavior (sexting & "making out" at her school).


My 10-year-old boy would take his shirt off, walk down the hall and say, "I can't control my anger" while trying to flex like the hulk. I think he was trying to intimidate his sister? When I showed up around the corner, he slowly went back to his room.


My 13-year-old was standing in the rain with his hoodie covering his head and face refusing to get into my van because he was angry at his sister. We were going to be late for school. I tried everything I could. My only option was to leave him there, but his sister would have had to watch him for the day. I had to call his dad. He listened to him.


It is common for a RAD child to listen better to the father compared to the mother.


I hope this enlightens your perception of what a RAD child is really like. Imagine all of these behaviors all day every day on rotation. You never know what will happen today. The reason for this post is to make more people aware of what a RAD parent goes through. Foster parents go through a lot. RAD parents go through an unimaginable amount of stress.

Let's show love and compassion to these special needs parents.

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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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