I read this today 'How adopting an angelic five-year-old blew our family apart', it's in the daily mail but I felt it was interesting to ask what could have been done differently and by whom?

(94 Posts)

I read this today 'How adopting an angelic five-year-old blew our family apart', it's in the daily mail but I felt it was interesting to ask what could have been done differently and by whom?


Sorry if this article is upsetting for anyone, it is not posted for that reason. Just looking for comments and ideas on how things could be done differently, and hopefully are done differently in some places.

fostermonkey Wed 01-Jan-14 22:49:32

Wow. I feel for the parents and Alex. As to what could be done differently - that's a hard one. It difficult to tell just how damaged a child can be, sometimes only time can tell. In an ideal world therapy/theraplay would be thrown at these children whether they seemed to need it or not.
Attachment issues can be the norm with children who have had a chaotic upbringing, so you would think that this is something that would be worked on very quickly when fostered and continued post adoption.

I suppose it begs he question 'is the damage reversible?'
Some children just aren't right for adoption. Maybe long term fostering with intensive therapy would have been better for Alex. It would take the pressure off all involved to have a 'normal' mum/daughter/family relationship.

Maybe there should be an age cut off for adoption? - Also, long term fostering shouldn't be seen as a worse alternative - but I think SS seem to think that adoption is best. Also some offer more post adoption support than others.

It's also a shame that SS turned on the parents and blamed them for the failing. People like to seek blame - when sometimes nothing could have been done.

I wonder if adoption is seen as the best option because it is cheaper for social services? Sorry if that sounds bad.

Lilka Wed 01-Jan-14 23:07:09

I read the whole book soon after publication, so I'm basing all this off that, rather than the article.

Preparation - She didn't really go into much about the approval process, but it was pretty clear that the preparation was not great. That reflects my experience. I was approved in 1995, and no social worker ever uttered the word 'attachment' to me. We did discuss difficulties because of past abuse, but not in the way it would be discussed today (I think!). I had some previous experience with children who had been neglected/abused so I wasn't actually going in completely blind, but I suspect that every other hopeful adopter on my course who didn't have any experience WAS going in blind.

And course it's easy to say 'well you should have gone out and researched' but there was no internet and there were about 2 books in the MASSIVE library in the city. Resources just weren't easily accessible where I lived. There's SO much more out there now. So many more books, so much on the web etc. And of course if no one ever really spells out that love and hugs alone won't cure the hurts abused children have suffered, how do you know that you need to research?

How do you ever find out that these children might need to be parented differently, let alone

Were they told everything? Melanie never went into great detail and of course she couldn't for Alex's anonymity, but I doubt it. I certainly wasn't told everything I should have been told about DD1 and IME if you ask adopters 'did social services hide things from you or not give you enough information about your child?' the proportion of parents saying 'yes, they hid things' will increase the longer ago they adopted. I've heard horrible stories and sad stories about hidden information and the majority of them are from adoptions from the 90's to mid '00's, although that's not to say that it doesn't happen now, because in some cases it does.

Sad reflection of practice in the early-mid 90's IMHO and sad relfection of the lack of knowledge back then. And yes, I know there were clued up professionals them - I think I remember NanaNina saying once that she was involved in education about attachment in the 90's, and I was honestly shocked.

And that's an entire essay just on the subject of preparation hmm I'll make another post in a bit, I need to go up and see DD2 now. I can talk about so much more!!!!! Like post adoption "support"!! And I also think that their parenting style wasn't well suited to a child with attachment and control issues. The cutlery is a great case in point. Lack of knowledge and support, child with emotional issues, they felt more and more out of their depth and unsupported, and eventually I think it was an emotional ending - Alex never did anything extremely dangerous or violent that I can recall, she didn't need to leave for everyone's safety. The parents burned out and felt emotionally unable to carry on.

Lilka Wed 01-Jan-14 23:11:05

I wonder if adoption is seen as the best option because it is cheaper for social services? Sorry if that sounds bad

However it sounds, IMHO there's truth in it!

I don't believe in an age cut off at all, and I've seen and read of adoptions being very successful even where the adoptee came home as a teenager. That said, adopting a traumatised older child is not easy and not like adopting a baby and good preparation is crucial!

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 01-Jan-14 23:21:22

I know this is just an extract but the parent sounds MASSIVELY controlling. She wore her clothes inside out? How could that possibly be worth a mention? Those details make the parenting sound really quite poor tbh. Maybe that's harsh...

I have every sympathy for the child and the family, how terrible for all of them.

I felt very sorry the 'voice' in her head was not taken seriously. I think if an adult said that they would be taken more seriously.

The phrase 'I'd always dreamt of rescuing "unwanted" children.' makes me wince a bit but if I am honest I would love to feel I could rescue a child! The reality for me is that we are adopting because we want another child! I think wanting a child/another child is/should be the main/only reason for adopting. But that is just in my humble opinion. Although it is clear from this article that the adoptive mum could not have any more children so I am sure she did want another child and so maybe just like me she also dreamed of making a difference to child's life.

For me it is weird that the desire to 'help' a child kind of comes and goes in the sense that at different times in the process my need to have another child takes precidence and my need to have a child who will not be too challenging also takes precidence over any desire to help a child. There are just so many emotions mixed up in the process!

In the article I found the pouring water from the bath bit made me wonder why it was such an issue to be in the article, out of possisbly many other incidents that could have been taken from the book?

I think there were things that were dangerous, not sure what a spud gun is but if it fires a nail that is dangerous? And the bathroom incident later with another child when she was in foster care sounded very dangerous.

Thanks for all your insight * fostermonkey* and Lilka.

names the bath thing was what made me feel concerned because kids do do all kinds of weird things but of course I have no idea how bad it all was.

Ledkr Wed 01-Jan-14 23:40:17

Gosh that's truly heartbreaking isn't it.
I work on post adoption support but have never come across anything as extreme thankfully.
I do however see people who are desperate and in crisis and am massively limited as to what I can do.
I do life story work but an not a therapist so I spend a lot if my time badgering my managers to fund specialist therapy.
We are still learning the true effects of early trauma on these poor chikdren.

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 00:23:21

Right I'm back <go to sleep DD please go to sleep>

Of course the toy gun and the nail was not safe, but it's nothing compared to a child who say, is punching you daily or grabbing a knife and going at you with it. The incident in foster care was obviously after her leaving their home and was very serious

I have a lot of sympathy for the mum being frustrated by those constant small things. Big things sound scary, but I've found that sometimes it's little things which can get to you more than the big things.

Also, I seem to remember that Alex was a child who rarely lost control. The mum was shocked when she once actually screamed and raged, and this was quite a while after homecoming. Some children rage and tantrum frequently, but others...don't. I mean, we're talking about a 5 year old here who nearly NEVER tantrums about anything, and has a lot of control over her outward behaviour, whatever she is feeling on the inside. On top of that, some of her behaviour I would describe as passive-aggressive. Put it together and it says quite a bit about her and it does indicate emotional issues which are more than mild.

I'm honestly very glad that both my daughters tend to be tantrummers and ragers and show their anger, rather than keeping it locked away and being passive aggressive

That's not to say they never do it. I remember DD1, a few months after coming home, started to spill her drinks. On the sofa's and objects that stained of course. She insisted sweetly that it was an accident. And did it nearly every day. She would go, eg. 'oops Lilka I'm sorry, I spilled my ribena, look, what should I do?'. And she was smirking at me. When I complained to my mum and a friend they BOTH said 'ah, she's almost certainly just clumsy, don't be angry with her', 'she's apologising and everything, it's just an accident', 'I'm sure she isn't smirking, and if she is it's a nervous smirk because she's scared you'll be angry with her'. One day she did it at my mum's house. 'Granny X, I spilled my orange juice on your sofa, I'm so so sorry'. Granny told her how clumsy she was at her age. When granny turned her back, DD turned to me and smirked with raised brows while swilling her drink in her glass and making tipping motions


I didn't say anything to granny, because I knew full well that it would be me written off as silly, fussy, reading things into it that don't exist, being unfair to poor DD, and as someone who just doesn't understand how kids can be - understandably of course, I'm only a new adopter of course, it's not like I can be expected to get how kids are, given me time, I'll 'get it'.

A while back, now adult DD says 'oh Lilka, I used to do things that wound you up because it made me feel good, I remember when I x and y and deliberately poured my drinks everywhere on purpose and pretended it was an accident. Do you remember?'

Do I heck hmm

Anyway, the point is, I suspect several of the thing Alex was doing were exactly the same kind of thing - she knew it wound her mum up if she did x, so she did it repeatedly. And maybe it seems odd to be wound up over something small, but you can get bogged down in the little things really easily, especially when you don't have a clue why it's happening

soundevenfruity Thu 02-Jan-14 01:14:44

I am really surprised that there is such inconsistent support for adopting families as attachment disorders destroy the very fabric of human personality. I once heard a woman speak who seemed completely overwhelmed by consequences of extensive abuse (physical and sexual) her adoptive daughters suffered in their biological family. Information about which was completely hidden from her by social services.

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 01:26:13

Should say obviously, I never saw her do it, I only got to see the smirking and fake inncoent expression and spilled drink.

Then there was the very frequent 'accidental' breaking of plates and mugs

"Lilka! Granny! Help"
"I've dropped a plate and it smashed, I'm soooory"
(no actual fright or remorse in her voice). Smiles at me in THAT way
Granny: Oh never mind it's only a plate. Step away from the broken bits lovey, I'll clean it up
Me: Actually Ma, I'd like DD to clean it up herself, I'll go over it afterwards and make sure it's all up. Also DD, you need to give your pocket money to granny to pay for the plate
Granny: Oh no, no! I'll do it

And later to me: Don't make her give up her pocket money, it was only an accident
No Ma, it wasn't, honestly, it wasn't...
Don't be silly Lilka, you're too hard on her, kids drop things and break them all the time
Ma, hear me out..
No! Look lovey, you're too hard on that girl, it's not fair, she...


This is what happens when your child does something and you're the only one who knows full well it's deliberate button pushing rather than an accident or forgetfullness or messiness of whatever. Everyone thinks you're being silly or worse, you're being mean and have no understanding of kids

I prefer to give parents the benefit of the doubt. We all have instincts and we know our kids better than anyone. So if a parent said to me 'I know it's deliberate, I'm sure it is, I'm sure he/she's doing it on purpose to annoy me' I'd believe them

Sadly, finding a way to not react and try not to care is a good way of dealing with it, but that's difficult if it's pushing your buttons

Pouring water onto my bathroom floor deliberately would be mildly irritating to me, but some parents would find it more annoying than i would so I understand why it really bothered Melanie

HappySunflower Thu 02-Jan-14 01:32:34

Attachment disorder, and the issues around it, are still so minimised and misunderstood by so many.
I gained a lot of experience about it throughout my assessment but still underestimated the impact it would have on our lives.
Sadly, Alex is one of so many people being let down by the system.

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 02:01:11

Yes, attachment disorder is very misunderstood, attachment issues generally are

The post adoption 'support' they received was dire and generally post adoption support is lacking

It's all about money sad they wouldn't help Melanie and Robert because it was costly and time consuming and some professionals didn't believe there were issues anyway. Even when some form of support might be offered, it might be inappropriate because the cheaper less specialised services are offered first even when the child has very significant issues and its extremely unlikely to be enough. The reluctance to use services like say family futures for instance is so great it's impossible to access in some areas. Always the thinking is in the short term rather than the long term again because of the money

HappySunflower Thu 02-Jan-14 02:42:30

You're right, it is all about money. It really is such a short sighted view.
The work that Family Futures do is so effective, but unless there is a commitment to funding their work in the longer term, positive change is unlikely to be achieved let alone sustained.

There are still so many people who 'don't believe in' attachment issues.
It makes it very difficult to get the help and support that we need for ourselves as parents, let alone for our children.

Buster51 Thu 02-Jan-14 09:15:00

Morning all, I happened to stumble across this article on google when trying to find out some aspects of DSs behavior! As a number of you have mentioned I feel pre-adoption there may not be enough support/preparation. In all honestly my DH and I were only really prepped on questions such as 'what would you do if DS smashed a window?' - 'obvious' behavior problems...We have literally had to learn 'on the job' from scratch, and let me tell you 9 weeks in I feel I am strugglying through each day!

I have spoken with you all on previous threads since DS was placed with us, and this has helped a lot. But sadly certain things mentioned about Alex does ring home in my ear!

Lika - you mention DD used to deliberately do things she knew would cause a reaction, DS is doing this all of the time and up until just recently my family all thought I was crazy!! I mentioned on my previous post it was the over clinginess to DH, looking at me for a reaction, we ignored that behavior but unfortunately it is getting worse and he is starting to vocoalise things to get a reaction. This is things like 'i love daddy not mummy' and mummy you're not even funny daddy is the best' even asked my friends daughter to kick the back of my chair (whispering). I realise they sound like little things, but as you mentioned Lika it is his face! he looks at me as though he really really wants to hurt me (and frankly he is).

As a resort yesterday I spoke with his previous FC for advice (although SW does not want me doing that). Which did help a lot as she advised unfortunately he has had a 'manipulative' trait while he was placed there (again I wished we had been told everything about him to prepare ourselves, which we werent). She also explained that the outward remarks to 'put me down' should be addressed, so we are following each of them through with a consequence now - so lets see how that goes??

I realise I havent put much in relation to the article here, but Lika and others how did you move on from this? I am stugglying each day as shamefully so I am now scared of his reactions as I do find them so hurtful! I need to grow a thicker skin but it is very hard...I feel he is quite a passive aggressive child, and manipulative, even when he is being 'nice' it is very animated, full on and not the real boy I have had glimpses of over the last 9 weeks.

Any help appreciated! - I must add this has only risen since DH came home, when he is working away DS cannot get enough of me?

Buster51 Thu 02-Jan-14 09:17:58

Again I must agree although the big things are terrible in that article, the constant little things do get on top of you as I feel that is what is waring me down. Our DS also never, ever loses control, to others this seems that he is a very good and well behaved boy, which of course that is how it seems. But for a 4 year old to be 'that good' I feel he is holding a lot back and starting to express it very passively towards me.

I just want to know how to move onward from this sad

TheCurseOfFenric Thu 02-Jan-14 09:49:01

First of all, I have no experience of adoption, or the adoption process.

I clicked on the link, and read the story with increasing disbelief.

Yes, Alex eventually did show some very unsafe behaviours, and did some horrendous things. BUt only after she left her adoptive home.

I do understand about the little behaviours, and the never-ending relentlessness of them - my own daughter (10) does this to me all the time. She has learning difficulties, and extreme controlling and manipulative behaviours.

I realise that what is in the extract is not the full story, but to lose it completely over the bath-water stuf, or the 'extreme' shadowing ever move for 10 minutes (hmm) is just unbelievable.

I do understand about no support (I get precious little myself), and about everyone around you 'seeing' the perfect child who is just trying their best. But I am struggling to see how the behaviours described could 'blow a family apart', tbh. It is so very hard, and I am no saint, but I am the adult in the situation, and dd is just a child - she may be a (at times) intensely controlling child who displays deeply irritatng behaviour, but she is the one faced with a world she doesn't understand, doing all she can to feel as safe as she can.

TheCurseOfFenric Thu 02-Jan-14 09:51:19

Oh, and I wanted to say, also - without doubt the most frustrating thing is lack of support. This is not exclusive to the adoption scenario. We have been passed from pillar to post over the years with dd, and have only managed to find decent help when we paid privately for it. Expensive, but worth every penny. And I will remain forever grateful that we could afford it.

* TheCurseOfFenric* I'm so sorry to hear of your situation. I think there is just not enough money and support offered to families experiencing problems, and those problems often do not go away and only grow. A fear friend of mine has a biological son with lots of mental health issues and she has had to battle to get anywhere with support.

I guess in the adoption scenario there is that element of choice. They wee a family of three (like our family) and chose to adopt a child. I think to adopt a child and then have to effectively 'send them back' and for your marriage to break up because of the stress of the situation could be described as blowing your family apart. The family did not just go back to how it was, a happy little three, the daughter was still part of the family but living apart, the husband was living apart and there was a lot of pain.

I can't judge the family for what they did, I have no idea how I would react. I am just so sad for them.

Buster I did think about it before posting this because I knew some things had changed in the system and I felt the article may no longer be relevant. I am so sorry to hear you are going through these things but glad if the article and the answers from Lilka and others will help you to work through this. As I said on the other thread about the image of a fountain, the behaviour is the splashes of water, the upward jet the feelings below the behaviour and then the base of the fountain is the needs below that which is fuelling the feelings and behaviour. Can you get some expert help to sort out these problems or to help you to work through them? I felt very angry on your behalf when you said ' I spoke with his previous FC for advice (although SW does not want me doing that).' Why does the social worker not like that? It seems crazy to me that you should not have ready access to the person who has cared for your DS most recently! Or am I being naive?

Thanks Lilka for all your wise words. I was not making any judgement on the child's dangerous behaviour, I know the bath and other child incident came after she left the home but the nail and potato gun thing chilled me. It is just so hard to know if things had been done differently how differently they would have turned out. I hate the fact that the voice in her head is not taken seriously.

MillyMollyMama Thu 02-Jan-14 12:45:01

Hello Everyone. I have not adopted, but my previous job in Education, brought me into contact with parents who had. Lots of the issues described here were not uncommon. However I would like to comment on a couple of issues that really leap out of the article, for me, anyway!

First of all the description of the child as "angelic". This is setting up the parents to expect behaviour to match the child. They knew the child had learning difficulties but seemed to expect rational behaviour. This should have been investigated far more thoroughly. They did not appear to know what this could really mean as it is often behaviour related too. The parents seemed to have a 'Rose tinted glasses' approach to adopting, especially as they were motivated to 'rescue' a child. As the birth mother was a drug addict, the child was maybe born addicted too? This seems to have been glossed over. The expectations of the parents seems too high and the Dad wanted his life back. I sometimes wonder if some people see adopting a child as a bit like taking in a rescue dog. I know that sounds harsh, but they did give this child up. Would they have done that if she had been their own? I doubt it.

I agree the preparation was poor, the after adoption service was poor but I just wonder if the professionals involved suspected the match was not right as the parents seemed to have problems with the sort of behaviour associated with adopting a difficult, and extremely, damaged children. Did they really just want a perfect child? Given the background, this was extremely unlikely. It appears reality was not given much consideration by anyone and the child ended up as a tragic pawn.

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 13:47:04

I do think there was a big mismatch in their expectations and in the reality, and that caused a huge amount of problems. And that can come up a lot in adoption - I've talked to many adoptive parents post adoption who never expected it to turn out like it did (being involved in support groups and meeting other parents using the same services I was means I found a good group of people with similar issues to us). Lack of preparation really doesn't help with that, although of course sometimes a parent might ignore the stuff about attachment and think 'oh that won't happen to us'. People adjust differently to their new reality, and sometimes parents seriously struggle to adjust to their family reality being so different to what they envisaged

Through my own experience, I can't blame them for not expecting RAD though, and the issues caused by her emotional difficulties and struggling with it. They just couldn't adjust to parenting a child with these issues and then got no support which was I think the catalyst for the disruption. If she had stayed with them, eventually she would have done something like the bath incident whilst with them, and then might have had to enter residential care anyway for everyone's safety

BettyBotter Thu 02-Jan-14 14:39:25

I heard the author of this book (I think - same story, anyway) talking on the radio a year or two ago and her interview struck me deeply. I think the DM article doesn't really do justice to the extent to which Alex's behaviour was very damaging to their son (both physical and emotional) and the efforts the parents made to try and improve things before they had to accept they couldn't cope.

I think the problem with the article (and the book?) is that the author is trying to put into words the almost indescribable here - the effects of RAD on Alex. The behaviours which the RAD caused all sound innocuous (pouring water on the floor) but the actual problem for the whole family was Alex's damaged ability to form a secure attachment with them and that's in the end why things went so wrong. I remember the mum telling a story of how day after day she patiently showed Alex how to lay the table. Each day Alex would be unable to remember how to do it due apparently to her learning disability. One day the mum peeped through the door and watched Alex carefully laying the table correctly and then going round again and deliberately upending each knife and fork so the table was messed up. For whatever reason, Alex hadn't actually wanted to gain approval or the satisfaction of achieving a task that her parents had assumed she would. That's a tough one for parents to deal with. I guess this sort of thing, like pouring bath water on the floor day after day, would have been much more 'copeable with' for the parents if Alex had been able to build an attachment with them and perhaps then they would have been more able to empathise with Alex and tolerate the difficult stuff.

Would some intensive therapy have helped Alex develop better bonds with her family? Who knows, but it certainly sounds like some support and understandanding would have helped her family cope better with Alex. What a sad story sad

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 14:52:34

I remember reading about the cutlery thing. DD1 would do things like that.

I completely agree with you Betty

Love and attachment are reciprocal to a big extent. If there's nothing going one way, you will never build up a relationship between you. You might love your child fiercely and unconditionally, but you can feel the difference when they don't love you back. DD1 didn't form an attachment to me for a long time, and when she did and we really built up a relationship it felt so so different, even though I didn't love her any more than before. It did make things much easier than before in some ways

Wish I had heard that interview

ghostinthecanvas Thu 02-Jan-14 15:20:15

I lived with SRAD (diagnosed) for 4 years. I had read this article a long time ago. However, nothing prepares you for the reality of day to day living. We had support. Lots of it. Everyone wanted this child to settle and succeed in family life. Support at home, full time support in school. I cannot imagine dealing with this 20 years ago when there was no information. I read, studied, learned more about myself and my attitude/expectations/behaviours than I thought possible. My family took 2 years to realise about deliberate behaviours. The description 'angelic' is about the way the child is perceived by others. I used to sleep during the day. I wasn't' allowed' to sleep at night for a long time. Eventually I got ear plugs. In the morning he asked did I sleep well. So sweet. I said " why yes, thank you. I slept very well" His reply? " I decided to let you sleep last night" To this day I cannot figure out how he knew about the plugs. But he did. I have never been so tired. Bone weary, mentally drained. But we loved this child. We only let him go when school broke down and he talked about stabbing me. sad The damage done to babies through neglect is horrendous. One problem about giving prospective parents all the possibilities is...will they walk away? Not that you can understand how it is to live with RAD. You have to do it. I am still living with RAD. Not to the same extreme but very challenging just the same. Somehow harder as this child has got 'angelic' down to a tee and I am thankful for the previous experiences my family went through with me, they know what I mean when I say " no, that wasn't an accident, you know how to do x, y and z..." A united front is a wonderful thing.

bibbetybobbityboo Thu 02-Jan-14 17:09:13

As a potential adopter currently researching the possibility I am horrified at stories like this. Is this really what it's like? We have a birth daughter and with each story I read like the one in the op I am more convinced I want to adopt and less convinced I'm up to the job. I want a child for my own selfish reasons, I want to give my daughter a sibling, I want another child but I don't want to destroy my family in the process. I am prepared for hard work, for parenting differently, for a bumpy ride but I'm really not sure I'm prepared to put my family at risk.

bibbetybobbityboo Thu 02-Jan-14 17:19:13

I should add the 'is this really what it's like' is aimed at the lack of support not at the child's behaviour. Although the escalation of the behaviour due to lack of early intervention is the saddest part in all of these stories.

sunshinemmum Thu 02-Jan-14 17:53:51

This is very sad. I have no experience of adoption but have a son with ASD. Some of the behaviours seem to overlap, the destruction, cat incidents, the water and the inability to master simple tasks, (we still ask over and over that he eats using a knife and fork) The lack of support from social services, seem to be a woeful, but equally the couple's expectation for this child.

ghostinthecanvas Thu 02-Jan-14 18:03:54

While there seems to be similarities with ASD, I am sure your son is not getting some part of what you are teaching him. With RAD, the children know what to do. They choose not to do things. That difference is important. I am not disrespecting your child, nor the difficulties of repetitively teaching him the basics but the sheer frustration of knowing your child is more than capable of doing things is difficult to get across really. Hard enough in rl, never mind writing about it on here.

TheCurseOfFenric Thu 02-Jan-14 18:16:12

Ghost, I'm sorry but that isn't true. My dd also has ASD, and most of her manipulative behaviour centres on doing/not doing what she shouldn't/should.

Off the top of my head (and a not particularly serious example behaviourally, although it will impact on her independence as she gets older) she currently gets very jealous if I do homework with dd2 - particularly maths for some reason. If I agree to do some with her too, I get a lot of blank looks and cries of 'it's difficult' when I ask her to do simple arithmetic (eg number bonds up to 10). I know that at school she is doing double column addition inc carrying a number, so much more complicated and involved sums. But she refuses to engage at home, while simultaneously wailing to 'do maths'. All attention seeking, and a negative behaviour spiral. Which I face daily, on top of a million other behaviours.

The laying the table exams sounds hauntingly familiar to me too. Dd1 also can't put her clothes in the laundry basket, or remember where she has left her favourite comfort toy (although de can manage to 'look' everywhere but where it actually is!)

Dd1 was famous, within our local ed psych team, when she was younger as every time they tried to test her cognitive understanding by eg asking her to name the animal, she would instead tell ten what it wasnt - a long list of 'it's not a dinosaur/lion/chimpanzee' etc, without ever answering the question. Thus rendering her 'untestable' as she wouldn't cooperate, which left us high and dry when it came to arranging support at school for her. It would, of course, leave her in fits of laughter, and was done entirely deliberately.

I completely understand te sher frustration side - she was written off at 4 years old as 'uneducatable' because of these behaviours. We had to fight very long and very hard to get our views (that she was able and more capable than she was letting on) seriously.

TheCurseOfFenric Thu 02-Jan-14 18:17:34

Excuse typos, am on phone as am curled up on sofa with a poorly dd2!

ghostinthecanvas Thu 02-Jan-14 18:40:32

I am corrected then Fenric. I suppose we all get sucked into the stereo typing of things. Because DS2 (as we will forever think of him) was a champion non answerer of questions. As is DS4 now that I think of it. The homework now is like that. DS2 did his no problem. He taught himself to read fluently by age 4 so, except when he didn't, he did his homework. Iykwim. Your description is very similar to some of DS2. Cept for the jealousy bit. He didn't do feelings. At all. Triumph maybe, even that I don't think was as important as control. Used to say rules were for other people.

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 19:09:59

buster51 I hear you! First of all, you are NOT crazy or imagining things. You can read your own son better than any of your relatives or friends can, and if your instincts and the way he acts is giving you the feeling 'this is deliberate, to try to get a reaction/test me' then you are in all likelihood completely right

Of all the things to test and have issues with, I'm pretty sure affection and interaction with parents has to be one of the most common

I'm single so I've never dealt with any 'two parent' issues like this. Because this involves both of you, you and your DH IMHO should sit down and work out what your strategy is going to be together. It doesn't matter what your friend thinks, but it's far far better if you and your DH are on the same page. Does he understand this behaviour? If so, great. A united front is really helpful.

With the little deliberate behaviours - I've always seen them as caused by her emotional issues and what she's going through, not just naughtiness. The control issues and the getting pleasure out of button pushing...I've found that if you frustrate it in one form eg. you manage to stop your child doing x, then it will manifest itself in a different way and your child will start doing y instead. Only a change on a deeper emotional level/progress with attachment etc, will result in lots of progress with outward behaviour issues

However, that didn't mean that I didn't try and deal with the little things at all! I did it wrong at first (I had no clue about alternate parenting strategies) but eventually I realised that natural consequences applied without shouting and showing lots of emotion were the most effective way of dealing with it. Also - battle picking.

Break a plate - you pay for it, you clean it up. "Forget" to clean the toilet and leave it all dirty - you go back and clean it, and clean the other loo as well. Etc. I never made a big deal out of those behaviours, but praised the good, and forgot about the bad once the natural consequences were imposed

Affection is a bit harder because it's not so easily ignored - I mean, it hurts if your child is rejecting you for the other parent.

But maybe you could try - Daddy deliberately turns his hugs into 'family hugs' instead and invites you in? Or you totally ignore it, or praise him for it? I'll think about it for you

sunshinemmum Thu 02-Jan-14 19:17:54

Ghost the thing is he can physically do these tasks but won't and repetitive behaviours are often deliberate, as he enjoys the response. I do appreciate that it is a different disorder, but the article mentions the child has learning difficulties.

Thepoodoctor Thu 02-Jan-14 19:19:29

I've been trying to organise my thoughts about this all day and failing, so forgive me if this remains rather random.

Bibbety - I have two adopted DC. One has significant difficulty, one is so far so good. I adore them both and they are the two best things that ever happened to me.

I think a fair summation of the picture of modern adoption is that most kids will have some difficulties whether that be through attachment, inherited learning disabilities, ASD, FAS, etc. A significant minority will be basically fine with perhaps the odd wobble. A further significant minority will end up in these extreme situations and that is I think more likely though not inevitable in children who have had the most difficult histories of neglect and abuse.

Have you read 'no Matter What?' by Sally Donovan? To me that's a much more helpful story for a prospective adopter of a family who had significant difficulties - not as bad as this family but pretty hairy - and made it through.

I am so proud to have adopted my children and feel utterly privileged to be their mother. I would advocate for adoption any day of the week. That said, I think we need to recognise in preparation that the children who have had the most difficult histories are likely to need the most skilled and resilient adoptive parents - and maybe we don't recruit the right people for that job, and don't train and support those we recruit anywhere near adequately?

We have had a lot of support for DS and I am so grateful for that. But what really carries us through is the fierce love I feel for him and the reciprocal emotion from him (which took years to build).

That's what gives me the strength to work through all his difficulties. It must be very hard if a child is unable to give you that at any stage.

Ramble grin

Lagoonablue Thu 02-Jan-14 19:20:15

Adopted child is damaged? Now there is a suprise........not saying more support would have helped but people need to know just how difficult the children can be. Think of the lives they've had before.

Thepoodoctor Thu 02-Jan-14 19:29:14

Sunshine - there is a massive crossover between attachment issues and ASD for many children. Neglect and trauma impacts the developing brain in ways that are pretty permanent and end up looking a lot like ASD.

And also living in chaotic circumstances can very easily mask an undiagnosed ASD, for both parent and child ...

Many adopted kids start out with diagnosis of attachment issues and end up with an ASD diagnosis. Jury is absolutely out on what DS will end up with!

I think there is a problem for some kids in that attachment based diagnoses are somehow kept separate from other diagnoses - for me it would be very helpful to have more joined up support that recognises that many of our kids have multiple issues that benefit from input from many different sources!

sunshinemmum Thu 02-Jan-14 19:58:26

I'm guessing that what ever the diagnosis or behavioural/emotional problems are, the issue is that many of our kids aren't getting access to early identification/intervention and many families are at breaking point.

I must correct myself! Apologies. I said to adopt a child and then have to effectively 'send them back' they did not send their daughter back but looked for an alternative accommodation for her. I think that must be very, very difficult. She is legally still their daughter.

I did watch a documentary about a family where one of the children had autism, a very difficult form that made it impossible for him to live with the family once he was older (and quite large). The family found a place for him to live where he could be really well cared for and he seemed very happy but the mum was very sad.

I think whether adoption or birth brings a child into a family a parent has to do what is best for the child and the family as a whole (and the parents sanity if that would be damaged). I am very sorry if my post implied anything different.

whattousetoday Thu 02-Jan-14 20:08:27

I took in a damaged child who went onto abuse my own children. I will pay the financial and emotional cost for the rest of my life.

I can't work as I am too anxious about leaving my children's with others and although I am happy in my world - I don't even go to Tescos unless my husband is in carpark

On the surface - I look perfectly happy and indeed to a degree I am.

But iso wish I had realised what I was potentially exposing my children too.

LadyRainicorn Thu 02-Jan-14 20:24:31

Not to derail the thread but I recently read an article summing up a recent research finding on autism - the author proposed that all/most children with autism diagnoses had more neural connections than normal and so were constantly suffering from sensory overload. Because this was happening to them from birth, during the normal attachment and bonding windows they fail to make the necessary attachments and end up with very similar problems to children suffering from attachment disorders.

Just thought posters here might be interested to know given the discussion above re asd and rad.

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 20:49:16

That's very interesting LadyRainicorn thanks

Completely agree that there's a lot of behavioural overlap and signs between lots of diferent conditions and of course children can have more than one disorder/condition. It makes picking it apart very difficult - sometimes you don't even know and won't ever know what's causing x or y. Quite a few of the behaviours with autism and attachment disorder are very similar, although some are different, but a big difference is the underlying cause of the problems, autism being a born-with condition, and attachment disorder being caused by something. Some of the parenting strategies to deal with it in the home are similar, but if it's actually RAD then therapy of some kind is also going to be needed, and that's where the support is seriously lacking. Sadly (side note) I've seen and heard (and read on MN!) parents being told by schools or other people with no business doing it, that their childs problems are probably attachment issues/disorder. Crazy. Of course the parents feel really upset because they feel the school/busybody is implying that they are abusive/neglectful.

devilinside Thu 02-Jan-14 20:54:57

Lady that is really interesting and explains so much, I recognise most of the behaviour Alex was displaying from DS who has ASD. However, as he gets older, it is becoming more obvious that he is doing much of it on purpose.

Hels20 Thu 02-Jan-14 21:00:04

Lilka - if you don't mind me asking, how many years after your DD1 did you feel she had an attachment to you? She is such a success story - building her own family now, with a DH and 2 children - and she also volunteers that she did things in the past to wind you up?

When do you feel you have an attachment? I mean, I totally love our DS but during the day, he does push me away a fair bit (although at night time he can't stop kissing me and hugging me round the neck. Why always at night time??! DS is 2.5)

Hels20 Thu 02-Jan-14 21:01:44

Sorry meant to say - if too personal, then of course I understand. But - being new to adoption (and motherhood) and having done a fair amount of reading myself, I am curious about when people felt they had an attachment and how they knew?

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 21:17:22

No I don't mind answering

First of all there was my loving her. It took me well over a year to feel real strong love for her, but by the time we finalised (she was 12 at the time) I unconditionally loved her. But on her end I felt our relationship was getting deeper and more trusting when she was about 15 and she told me she thought she loved me when she was 16. So maybe 5 years+ on her end. Our relationship got better and better from there. I just don't think she truly believed i would never send her away until she was 17/18 and too old for 'care' and she wobbled when she moved out but then realised that she was always welcome back and this was still her home.

She behaved differently. Less controlling, more seeking out comfort from me, much more telling me how she felt, but it was also her body language and voice when we spoke or had a cuddle. Those subtle little things said to me or showed me, meant a lot. I felt that she was feeling some affection or something on the inside when we hugged. She was visibly more relaxed round me and with me.

I'm often amazed by her honesty. Like her willingness now to talk about the things she did 16 years ago and her willingness to say that she did/didn't love me.

Although she had attachment issues and PTSD, she never had full blown RAD/attachment disorder and if she had had RAD things would not have turned out like they have IMHO. Her next in age sister does have RAD and she's never attached to her adoptive parents sad

bassingtonffrench Thu 02-Jan-14 21:56:10

Buster i was quite touched by your story as this happened to me with my biological son. I feel we have come out the other side now so I thought it might help you to know that you are not alone and also it can pass.

My DS2 has had some medical problems and has many, many ASD traits, whilst also being quite socially sophisticated. This seemed to negatively affect his attachment to me in his toddler years. His babyhood was fine, breastfed, attachment parenting etc. But as a toddler and preschooler he constantly rejected me in favour of his father, exactly in the manner you describe.

I did some research on this at the time and it seem it is not uncommon for toddlers to do this. But somehow DS2 seemed to get stuck at this stage, probably because of his ASD tendencies.

We worked out that control was very important to him. I began to look for opportunities to say yes. for example I would take him to charity shops and he could pick anything he wanted. I avoided places where I would have to say no - like expensive shops! I abandoned all discipline except the most basic things. I ignored all advice from parents of 'normal' children.

Things improved. his behaviour can still be disturbing, for example he talks about killing himself as a sort of 'joke', but mostly our family life is joyful. He does occasionally regress into rejecting me, especially in social situations with extended family, which can be embarrassing, but mostly things are fairly equal now. He is now 6

I don't have an adopted child but I think that Lilkas advice sounds right based on my experience.

I really hope things work out for you.

Listening to various people's experiences I wonder if there is any pressure group to get better help for all children who have difficulties whether ADS or attachment or anything else? It seems that health care, education and children which would help with issues such as these is so limited. I have read lots of people on here talk about problems with support through adoption and in real life my friends who have children with ASD or mental health issues just talk about teachers not really understanding and support being very difficult to access. Is there are pressure group for advocating for children?


sorry - health care, education and support which would help with issues such as these is so limited.

Buster51 Fri 03-Jan-14 09:42:26

Lilka, yes DH doesn’t understand what is happening (now) and we are trying to deal with it together, however I still feel like were not completely on the same page, as he only notices the really ‘obvious’ attempts to get at me, and not that it is in fact a lot of our day! So DS is forever just getting all of the attention he is craving from him (it is also very fake and animated I must stress), as well as the action of ‘hurting’ me. So to me this feels like a win win situation from DS point of view? Speaking to his FC she said to address this behaviour, as he is perfectly capable of understanding what he is doing, they used to use time out, we’ve tried this, but if we are completely honest I really do not think he cares less about being put in time out.

SW is coming today so hopefully she can provide some insight – however she last advised to ignore it, which I am really finding hard to do! Even if I vocally ignore it my body language speaks a thousands words (just me as a person!) so I really feel I need some help with this. His FC and previous SW must have had their files and known he had issues like this but none of this information was passed onto us, I have chased for several weeks for all of the information. Thinking back we were told pretty much nothing at all about him, we have been on no training courses and have not been informed that such issues even existed. If I had known at least I could have prepared myself.
I realise what needs to change is on a deeper and emotional level – but how exactly do I work towards that? Sorry if I am asking the obvious here but what would be a natural consequence in this situation?

I have tried phrasing them both for it when they are together, I have tried ignoring it, We’ve tried making it into a family game to include mummy, they have all failed to be honest, possibly because he still knows that it hurts me.

Bassingtonffrench – thank you for your response, it is interesting to hear this can occur biologically. We have been advised this is likely a control issue, if that is the case then previous FC techniques and advise is probably going to have the opposite effect on him?? It is really embarrassing when he does it in social situations, as he makes a point of showing everyone else in the room how upset he is to be close to me. Something he never does on our own. At the moment he doesn’t talk about negative things as such like in your example, but I can see it headed that way as he gets older, he will play with his toys and say hurtful things about mummy, or sometimes directly at me, when DH went out yesterday it was the 1st time he’d approached me to play with me, it was our usual game of playing on my back, he was even being rather rough with his knees into my back! He is very aware of all of his actions, both bad and overly good, I am really lost with what to do sad

sunshinemmum Fri 03-Jan-14 11:34:55

Grey hound the fight for services is truly awful, a postcode lottery. Dh is a pretty buttoned up guy, but he sobbed down the phone once, when the hospital has lost Ds's referral for occupational therapy. This was only done after an MP complaint case and after we has paid privately for pivotal services such as speech therapy.

Many people have to fight tooth and nail for statements for their children, taking on the local authority at tribunal. Even after we got the diagnosis for DS aged 10, after years of fighting, we were signed off and pretty much left to cope with his mental health issues, such as anxiety and meltdowns which can be violent, ourselves.

We have had our child from birth of course, I am staggered that there is nothing in place to help parents who adopt children with similar issues.

ghostinthecanvas Fri 03-Jan-14 12:27:12

Buster51 sorry you are having a hard time. It is tricky figuring out what works. I tried time in. DS was kept by my side, chatted to, sometimes nonsense chat, sometimes chat relevant to behaviour. It worked to a point. Likewise, naughty spot. It was a round rug that I could move around. So we could still be in the same room. There is a book 99 ways to drive your child sane. It uses humour to tackle situations. Very effective.
What has your DH read about behavioural problems? Eventually everyone will be on the same page. His behaviour will be more recognised by everyone. I went through a stage where I thought everyone else thought I was losing the parenting plot! If that makes sense. Life got a little easier when we realised DS could only handle 20 mins of fun at a time. I forgot once and got a two handed slap on my face..... sad Transference was also something I had to learn about. How feelings from the child can be transferred to an adult. Blew my mind. Literally. My DS was internalising a lot of anger. At that point, for me, CAHMS were a godsend. Also reading. A lot of reading.

Sunshine it sounds like a lot of individual parents are fighting individual corners and I just wonder if any parenting or children's charity, or organisation like Mumsnet could spearhead a campaign for better services, get someone like Tanya Byron or the like involved. Does anyone have any local experience of this?

I am almost not sure what to ask for but I feel that social services/NHS and educational services are failing children (and parents) on a massive scale. These kids will grow up and if issues have not been worked through they may go on to require much more intensive and expensive treatment/support and help from society/NHS/etc etc.

My friend's child took year's be diagnosed with ASD.

Exactly what could ordinary parents do? I am not thinking of a specific need I have currently but it seems unfair and wrong that this issues only get addressed when one parent fights for their child. What about better servies for all kids who need help. It's our tax payer money that funds these services.

Ghost would '99 ways to drive your child sane' be useful for a parent with a child with Aspergers, or Autism or PDA (Pathological demand Avoidance)? In the blurb it mentions ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and I wonder if PDA and ODD and Autism are all a tiny bit similar? I have a friend who this may be useful for but don't want to suggest anything if it is not appropriate.

ghostinthecanvas Fri 03-Jan-14 19:04:12

Italiangreyhound I think that as long as the child understands humour it will work. I don't think they necessarily need to like the humour though! It releases tension all round. I cannot remember any examples from the book at the moment. I will dig it out tomorrow and put some on here. That may help you decide.

Thanks Ghost.

I have not managed to read through all of the replies to the original post, but I did read through the DM article.

My adopted DD is 14. She has been living with us for 10 and a half years. She suffered neglect and a catastrophic non-accidental injury at 22 months which has scarred her significantly for life. She has RAD - mostly as a result of the neglect before AND after her injury (hospitalised with no parent present for 3 months aged 2 post-injury). She probably did not suffer abuse and neglect for as long or as overtly as 'Alex' - the only surprise to me is that everyone is so surprised at Alex's brokenness. I spent the first 18-24 months of her placement positively willing my DD to be 'normal against all the odds'. When I had my first birth child I realised everything DD had not had and finally gave in and allowed her to be broken - to recognise and accept that no one can go through what she had been through and not be deeply and - I believe - pretty permanently damaged. It took DH another 18-24 months and 6 years ago we started to properly address the issues, including understanding how attachment disorders are not just about the child - our attachments are all disordered and yes, a lot of strange control stuff is part of that. We are all living in some kind of survival, self-preservation mode ALL THE TIME. It never ever ends. Self-awareness is the only things that begins to heal it or allow coping to a greater or lesser extent.

Nothing in this article surprises me, nor is exaggerated or overrated. Living with a child with RAD is unbelievably hard work. It is relentless. You live burned-out. You live emotionally damaged. You live with a reality that most people you know and nearly all people you meet will not ever understand what shape your life has become or what effort it takes to process all the stuff going on within your family every single day. That said, I believe we have 'got off lightly'. My daughter is clever and capable and academically able. She is bright and funny and loves us and her siblings immeasurably. She has attached well to us, but even after 10 years every single day is a challenge and a work in progress. She still struggles to trust. She copes with life by dissociative behaviour and can be hideous company. She will struggle with relationships her whole life, I believe. My whole body often hurts with the effort of loving and living with her.

AND we now have good, accessible, specialised support, though only because DD has been awarded specific criminal injuries compensation in order to afford it. Without that we would, frankly, be lost.

If you know someone who has adopted and you cannot make sense of what they are saying about their home life. Stop trying to understand, at least before you have properly found out about and understood RAD and it's affects. Once you have grasped the enormity and all pervading nature of it, you will understand what has happened to your friend or loved one. Then encourage them to seek specialised (probably private) therapeutic help. Then offer them unbelievable and unconditional acts of love and acceptance.

That is all.

ghostinthecanvas Fri 03-Jan-14 23:35:36

that is all

Lilka Fri 03-Jan-14 23:46:24

I spent the first 18-24 months of her placement positively willing my DD to be 'normal against all the odds'. When I had my first birth child I realised everything DD had not had and finally gave in and allowed her to be broken - to recognise and accept that no one can go through what she had been through and not be deeply and - I believe - pretty permanently damaged

I also went through a similar process (minus birth child) with DD1 who has had attachment issues and PTSD (but does not have RAD and I am very aware that full blown RAD would have been much harder), and you said it so beautifully IMHO. I had to accept her as she was, for who she was, and recognise that whilst I can help her make progress, I can't change who she is as a result of what she's been through. And to accept that, I had to go through a lot of grief and hurt, before i could move forwards

FWIW, I wasn't at all surprised that Alex had such huge issues, nor that a multitude of 'little things' led to emotional exhaustion and burn-out. If anything surprises me, it's a generally held belief (not by anyone on this thread to make this very clear, but you do hear it on MN and lots IRL) that children are so much more resilient than adults when it comes to dealing with abuse - that a child could go through significant abuse and neglect and then manage to literally forget about it and have it hugged away. I always find it insulting to my DD's actually - like people are dismissing what they've been through and suggesting they should have gotten over it. But why should say, a 3 year rape victim be more resilient than an adult rape victim? Why would a 3 year old who has lived for all their life with violence, shouting and emotional abuse be able to move on so much easier than an adult who has suffered such abuse from a partner? It doesn't make any sense

misspollysdolly just wanted to say thank you for sharing.

misspollysdolly there aren't any more words to say from me but I am very grateful you have told us, just to help with general understanding.

Shockers Sat 04-Jan-14 21:21:03

I read the book, it was given to me by a friend who is a psychologist who recognised what our family going through. She hadn't felt able to read the whole book herself as she struggled with the behaviour of the mother. I told her that I could have easily written the first half of the book myself.

As I understood it (but it's a long time since I read it), Alex's mother asked for her to be returned to the status of a looked after child with the intention of keeping her with them. This was so that the family, including Alex, could access the support network given to LAC, that is often so woefully lacking once you have adopted.

In our case, DD's manipulative behaviour made it impossible to have whole family get-togethers any more. My mother believes that DS2 is a cruel bully toward DD, a fact that couldn't be further from the truth. DD loves the fact the she has Granny all to herself... I have seen her openly smirk behind my mother's back when she has engineered a disagreement between us. Fortunately, most of the adults in our life have listened, read around the subject and understand that if DD's manipulative behaviour is completely ignored, or firmly (but gently) discouraged, she is a happier girl. Her teacher is amazing!

Shockers Sat 04-Jan-14 21:22:18

Sorry, I forgot to say, but Social Services refused to let Alex stay within the family home.

Lilka Sat 04-Jan-14 21:29:07

I think first their idea was that they should have the adoption annulled and foster Alex instead, that was certainly what the article said....but obviously that's completely impossible, adoptions can't be anulled. Maybe then they asked to care for her (as their legal daughter) at home whilst she was on a care order (can't remember?), but social services didn't agree with that.

Social services certainly completely denied she had these emotional issues, and they did the classic 'blame the parents, refuse to believe anything they say' thing rather than put in any help...because money, money, money, and because of lack of knowledge too I assume

wherethewildthingis Sat 04-Jan-14 23:55:19

Sorry if I offend anyone and I am aware this will be hugley controversial in this forum. I am coming at this not as an adoptive parent but as a children's social worker, and a lot of what I read in the article upset me. I know that adoption support services are massively lacking and it sounds like in this case there was a failure in assessment.
But it also sounds like the adopters sought out a child for the wrong reasons and rejected her when she turned out not to be an "angel" they could rescue. Talking about her behavior in terms of "tactics" and as if it is all deliberate. It feels, from this article, as though Alex is always viewed differently from the birth child whose welfare is so important to them.
I find it utterly repulsive that this child will be able to identify herself from this, and that details of her early childhood have even included. I can't understand this at all. There isn't a justifiable reason for it.
Finally, I would like to say that the local authority has no right of reply in cases like this and social workers like me cannot defend their actions. So, we only have one side of the story here.
I recognise adoption can be enormously difficult but I really feel there are a lot of red flags here.

ghostinthecanvas Sun 05-Jan-14 00:36:23

A lot of behaviour is deliberate. It is very difficult to convince others of this. It is planned, life is all about control., reaction, manipulation, fooling others. It has been a while since I read this book but I felt they just had no idea that a child can be like this. (Neither did I 'til I met DS2 to be fair but I had internet and 20 extra years on my side) I feel very clumsy trying to explain. A RAD child is not behaving the way I would if I were deliberately winding some one up. They are hard wired to behave like this. It is normal for them. I would know that it was making life difficult for others, I would be aware I was not dealing with things in a conventional manner. I would feel a bit guilty, maybe start to modify my behaviour to fit in. A RAD child would feel safe, in control, maybe even a little happy.
It is difficult when dealing with SW's and other professionals, even family and friends who don't understand the children, people who think the parents/carers are being negative toward a child who is projecting the persona of a sweet cutie. Again, I am very lucky, I would say 90% of my colleagues and friends were supportive. I couldn't have managed otherwise. However, I would never write a book about a particular child. I would be uncomfortable with the way that child is being made public property. It is not my story, I am simply a couple of chapters in my childs story

Buster51 Sun 05-Jan-14 09:15:52

Totally agree with the previous post. That is what I found most difficult to deal with / still do - the deliberate manipulative behaviour. I'm sure some people still do think in crazy, even DH "doesn't always see it".

That said, at least I'm now aware of it, so I can start to move forward from feeling like this monster who DS is set out to really hurt! I am starting to accept that he's doing it/there are reasons why (I will never know truly?) so I have managed to almost completely ignore it recently. touch A LOT of wood it seems to have died down a little bit since I have "chilled".

What has become apparent since this behaviour has been ignored to me, is that he is desperately needing to feel a sense of control. He has started to "tell us" we can do things, how we should do things, even referred to himself as am equal adult the other day! So that is something we are aware of & try to give him sensible choices.

On a side note, & I feel bad saying it! But I am really worried about the attachment on my side (9 weeks in), I just don't feel the way I think "I'm meant to". sad

ghostinthecanvas Sun 05-Jan-14 12:52:36

There is no 'feel the way you are meant to'. You are building a relationship. It is only nine weeks. Bet it feels a lot longer though. Your feelings will grow slowly and steadily, making a strong foundation for your future with him. Don't worry and try and force things. He will be resisting you, probably not trusting you are going to be permanent? Birth child, adopted child = a life times work. Worth it though.
Yes, if you are aware of one behaviour and dealing with it quietly, another one will appear. Fact. I hope you have someone you can 'dump' on? That is really important. Someone who won't judge or say "my Jimmy does that". No, he doesn't. (Unless, of course, your friend has a similar situation)
You can pm me if you like. My youngest is tricky but I feel he is responding more to me, in a positive way. So there can be progress. You sound like you are doing great so far Buster.

Lilka Sun 05-Jan-14 13:32:50

Buster 9 weeks into my own adoptions, I was NOT feeling any love.

Sometimes I liked my kids and enjoyed their company...other times I resented their presence and disliked them

There is no right or wrong way to feel, there is no way you are 'supposed' to feel in this situation. Although 'overwhelmed' and 'not feeling anything' are very common feelings to have. Often it's a slow road to bonding. Remember that in the end you won't love your son any less than those people who bonded instantly, you'll all love your children with the same unconditional mothers love.

Also remember that the definition of attachment is a long term emotional relationship. Attachment is not short term by it's very meaning. You are still in the short term, you haven't known each other for long at all, and it's totally normal that you aren't feeling much yet

Don't feel guilty, look afer yourself x

MyFeetAreCold Sun 05-Jan-14 23:42:46

Buster, there was a thread here recently where pretty much everyone admitted that they didn't love their DC instantly so you're not alone.

I can't find it or I'd point you to it -- it was exactly what I needed to read at the time! (We seem to be on a similar time-frame as you.) Can anyone else remember which thread it was?

Lilka Sun 05-Jan-14 23:47:12

We've had a few great bonding threads, I'm going to have a dig for the best ones now

Lilka Mon 06-Jan-14 00:10:54

This is our best bonding and attachment thread IMHO - so many people sharing their honest stories, I hope it's helpful

I also found this one

TwistAndShout Mon 06-Jan-14 07:13:10

Buster, it's still really early days. Give yourself time, you're not meant to feel any particular way. Every child and situation is different. I read on here "fake it, till you feel it"! Helps me through. Also, it's possible to love a child without liking their behaviour- true of birth or adopted children. You're doing great and asking for all the right kind of help. Keep going.

roadwalker Mon 06-Jan-14 08:19:17

I have read the book 'the trouble with Alex'
The book and the title bothered me. Both suggest that Alex is to blame. The whole tone upsets me as does talk of manipulative behaviours as it (to me) suggests conscious and deliberate manipulation
I see it as a child whose needs have not been met and lacking trust that adults will meet those needs

My DD had appalling FC and I could see behaviours that could be labelled as manipulative. She was pretty much ignored so she was very destructive, this got her attention
She would pretend to want to touch something high up, this got her picked up so she gained physical closeness

This was about her finding ways to have her needs met and we would all use manipulation if we had unmet needs
If it is seen as a need then it becomes understandable
My DD rejected DH and DS. She would ask them to move somewhere else and say she did not love them
We always gave the same response- thats fine but we all love you
It is IMO important to accept their feelings, understand why they behave as they do and give unconditional love

roadwalker Mon 06-Jan-14 08:37:51

Sorry my post seems quite abrupt, seriously sleep deprived
Parenting my DD is the biggest challenge I have ever faced but she still deserves, and needs, love and understanding
A therapist once told me that an attachment disordered child is like a sieve, all the love seeps out of them and it can feel like you are giving and giving with nothing in return
There needs to be a lot of work done around appropriate intervention and more resources for support
Our CAMHS are rubbish and, so far, have caused more harm than good
IMO the government is misguided in their speeding up of the approval process and will lead to more disruption
They should have focused on post adoption support

Buster51 Mon 06-Jan-14 11:40:35

wow thank you Lilka and all, those threads have really opened my eyes! We are still very much in the early stages!

From reading the old threads a lot of it rings home to me, the feeling the need to tell other mothers in the school yard that he is adopted as a feel like 'fake' is very much still where I am at! Especially when they start talking birthing stories, I find this quite uncomfortable.

My DH is certain that if DS was 'how is is with him' i.e. the cuddles, affection and love I would bond with him, he is certain that I am holding back because he is resisting/rejecting me, and doesn't particularly like my cuddles, often moving away/even crying, he won't sit with me or anything like DH. I feel to an extent he is probably right - I am almost scared in case he never feels that way about me so it is holding me back.

After our most recent 'behavioral manipulation' issues etc I feel that definitely made me 'shut down' - any empathy, acceptance etc just disappeared (I have recently read parenting through PACE, have any of you read this? I have found it most useful). However, I have started to just force it again, play/paint with him try to be back to how we were in the 'honeymoon phase' - as a result I have relaxed a little, I am still not 100% but I have improved. It seems DS has stopped trying, especially vocally to hurt me (for now?) but at least this may be a good start.

I feel bad that all of those feelings shut down for me, it seems my own personal anxiety took over and I just couldn't cope with it. I have even struggled making eye contact! But in recognizing so I hope is good progress?

I am just trying to learn not to dwell on the differences between me and DH, and not react to any of DS attempts to get a reaction out of me. Accept that he is comfortable with DH and realise that is a very good thing, it is going to take a long time I feel/if ever for DS to be like that with me.

He is extremely comfortable (perhaps too much in certain situations) with all men, he is only reserved with woman in general.

I realise I just seem to put all of my thoughts and feelings into this without any logic, but it helps to just talk, and see that I am not alone in this.

Thank you all again for your comments smile

MyFeetAreCold Mon 06-Jan-14 13:11:30

Thanks for those links, Lilka. Needing them myself today. I feel like I may not be faking it particularly well today either...

ghostinthecanvas Mon 06-Jan-14 13:52:14

Must be the day for it today. <sighs> Got a triumphant wee smile from my youngest today when I rose to his behaviour before school. No gold stars for me today.

MyFeetAreCold Mon 06-Jan-14 14:28:50

And cbeebies have changed the schedule!!! <wails>

NanaNina Mon 06-Jan-14 14:29:06

Sorry I haven't read all the posts but the wise Lilka has as usual written some very enlightening posts. Some of you will know I am a retired sw and tm mgr for a Fostering & Adoption team and we were including attachment issues in all our prep courses for foster carers and adopters in the mid 90s. I still think it's one of the most important issues in fostering and adoption.

I wonder how much spin the DM put on the article about the "angelic" child. I too winced at the Adopter saying that she had always wanted to adopt an "unwanted" child, or maybe she said rescue - even worse! As others have said it doesn't seem like these adopters were properly prepared (if you ever can be) for adopting a child who has been seriously abused/neglected and they were blown away by the blonde hair and angelic smile.

Some of the comments in the article made me think that the adopters were unable to cope with fairly minor things e.g. being "furious" because of the spilling water out of the bath. There were so many different ways to cope with this - maybe put a washing up bowl by the bath so she could ladle the water into there - oh I know it's easy to say stuff like this when you are not in the thick of it. I thought the incident with the spud gun was given far more importance than it should have been and seemed to be the final "nail in the coffin" (no pun intended)

I think the thing that was most strange was the fact that the adopters wanted the adoption "annulled" and the child placed elsewhere but at the same time wanted her back at some point in the future. I just could not understand this at all and once a child has been removed from adopters (for whatever reason) and placed with foster carers then that is end of matter for the adopters. It has to be. The child can't think she is going to return to them ..........at some point, and I would be amazed if the LA agreed such a plan. The adopter were visiting her every 12 weeks and seemed to think that was ok and that one day she would return to them.

The other thing I wanted to say (and forgive me if anyone else has said it) but I did wonder about whether this child had Foetal Alcohol Syndrome as her birthmother abused alcohol. This condition is largely undiagnosed in this country (and diagnosed routinely in USA) and it does manifest itself in some very bizarre behaviours that seem to be like learning difficulties, but somehow they aren't - somehow it seems the child is deliberately misbehaving and they are much understood and sometimes punished for their behaviour.

The thing is that alcohol can enter the placenta and damage the cells of the foetus in utero and there is no way that this can be reversed or remedied. It is far worse than babies who are born drug addicted because they can be withdrawn from drugs with careful nursing care. Some FAS babies have facial features that can aid diagnosis but others don't and as it's a syndrome there is no way that it can be known just how affected the child will be.

Clearly we only have the "bones" of what happened here and I feel sad for the child and the adopters. I have seen marriages break up when adoptions break down and adopters who suffer mental health problems as a result of trying to care for very damaged children.

There are no easy answers are there - I just take my hat off to all you adopters and foster carers out there who are caring for the most vulnerable children in our society. I usually recommend a book called "Why Love Matters" by Sue Gerhardt (a paperback) and it is important because she evidences how the pathways in the brain of a baby change in relation to the quality of the care given in those earl days, weeks and months. I think so many adopters think that if you love a child, all will be well, but that's not the case as many of you know and learning about attachment theory does give the best chance of helping a child to learn to trust adults after being so let down in their earliest years.

It is so wonderful and helpful to read wise words from Roadwalker, * NanaNina* and all.

I know the article is rather controversial and somethings, like the title of the book (I agree with Roadwalker) are things that are difficult to discuss and consider. I am aware lots of people are dealing with behaviours which are really hard and I am just very grateful (as a prospective adopter) to see the wise words of advice and empathy from others.

Buster I sincerely hope you will find things get better. A while ago I watched a documentary called The Dark Matter of Love. There was a thread on here at www.mumsnet.com/Talk/adoptions/a1897577-Great-Adoption-Documentary-on-BBC about it. What was very interesting was that an 11 year old girl was adopted (along with twin boys aged 5 who were not related to her). What was interesting was that she seemed to bond first with the dad and then with the mum later. This is probably an utterly different situation to your situation Buster but I wanted to mention it because for the first half of the documentary it looked so much like the girl liked the dad and was not interested in the mum but towards the end, the mum became much more important to her. So maybe for you you are in the very early part of your adoption story.

All best wishes Buster and otherbs.

Buster51 Mon 06-Jan-14 21:13:39

Thank you Italiangreyhound, this sounds quite like our situation it's great to hear it got better! I will try to watch it smile

We've had feedback from SW & an attatchnent specialist she works work advising it sounds a lot like a disorganised-controlling attatchnent pattern DS has. If any of you have came across this / information on it that would be super.

I must say today was a much better day, DS was back to wanting to be on my back & was quite evenly mixed between mummy & daddy. We still see a lot of his need to control things coming out, but this seems direct at DH as well as me more recently (since I have been completely ignoring the behaviour which was creating a reaction). I can honestly say that a lot of what he does doesn't bother me now either, which is a HUGE step for me, as I'm able to still engage with him like I should be!

I do feel rather to blame for giving him the reactions he was craving but I has no idea what was the cause/thing he was seeking! You live & learn I suppose & thankfully I've recognised my behaviour early into his placement & we can hopefully start to accept & build towards his future smile

Buster51 Mon 06-Jan-14 21:15:26

Again apologies for the spelling etc - one tired mummy! :D

Buster you sound like one switched on person who is doing a great job. Don't ever doubt that.

NanaNina Tue 07-Jan-14 16:21:10

I've now gone back and read some of the posts. I feel so much for all your adopters out there Buster ItalianGreyhound Lilka Roadwalker missPolly and others - sorry if I've missed anyone out. I know Lilka that most of your problems are over and your DD is growing closer and closer to you. It's great that you can reach out to others who are doubting that this will ever happen for them.

I'm a bit puzzled though by this distinction that seems to be made between RAD and other Attachment problems. Surely all attachment difficulties are reactive, as they are a reaction to not having their needs met in their earliest days, weeks, months and for some being abused/neglected and moved from carer to carer in their formative years.

Isn't the distinction between a secure attachment and an insecure attachment the important one to make. Needless to say, by definition adopted children are almost always going to have an insecure attachment and this will manifest itself in a variety of ways, as so many of you know and are coping with these manifestations on a daily basis.

Attachment theory is just that a theory isn't it, and there are differing views and explanations amongst the experts. As far as I can see, a secure attachment is made when the baby's needs in all respects are met from his first breath, and he is loved unconditionally right from the beginning of his life. This secure attachment with his parents/carers will be a protective factor for him throughout the life span. Conversely babies whose needs are not met, and are abused or neglected will have an insecure attachment pattern. I believe that children will always try to organise themselves so that they can survive in whatever situation they are in, and I don't mean of course that this is done at a conscious level, far from it, as this type of behaviour can be seen in a young baby.

I am thinking of the "frozen watchfulness" of a baby who is abused, who lies still in the pram and doesn't move or make any sound (like a rabbit caught in the headlights) so as not to bring himself to the attention of the abuser. I had learned about this in theory but to actually see it in a 4 months baby was chilling indeed. His 2 year old brother who was also being abused hid behind his bed to keep out of the way of the abuser. In this way children are organising themselves in order to try to survive.

Coming back to insecure attachments, I think they will vary dependent upon the parent/carer. The child who has experienced rejected, interfering and controlling parents will show an avoidant attachment pattern. If these children show distress it annoys the parent and any crying, clinging, following, demanding does not bring the reaction needed - in fact it brings the opposite, Hence these children will minimise that behaviour and will not show their distress. Emotional self containment is established.

Children whose parents are insensitive, unreliable and inconsistently responsive show an ambivalent attachment style and try to maximise their behaviour (whine, cling, fret, shout and threaten in order to break through the parent's emotional neglect, unavailability and lack of response. To the child the parent is emotionally desired but emotionally unavailable and naturally this causes great frustration in the child, and they will tend to have ambivalent feelings towards other people and relationships.

Children who cannot *organise their behaviour or develop a strategy to achieve security in any way whatsoever with their parents are usually the children of parents who are severely mentally ill, heavy drug or alcohol users and there is domestic violence. However the child behaves it brings no comfort and so their attachment pattern is seen as incoherent and disorganised and they freeze (as the baby I described above did) - I wonder if these children are being diagnosed with RAD.

Having said all that does it really matter what diagnosis is attached to these children. They have all been neglected/ill treated in some way and you wonderful adopters are caring for them. I know you won't see yourselves as "wonderful" but that's as maybe. I am allowed to say it!!

AS for help and support - I'm sure that is very patchy. In the LA that I worked in we had a brilliant clinical psychologist who worked exclusively with foster carers and adopters who were parenting children with attachment difficulties. She always pointed out that there is a big gap between the chronological and emotional age of these children and recommended regressing from time to time, playing games meant for younger children, singing nursery rhymes etc obviously not all the time, but for specific periods in the day in possible.

A story that has stuck in my mind is that of an experienced foster carer (a single woman) who long term fostered an 8 year old boy whose parents both had moderate LDs and he was delayed in all respects and should have been moved much earlier. However she regressed sometimes with him (he loved Bob the Builder) at age 8 and she played games with him suitable for 3/4 years etc, She said that one day he was lying on the sofa drinking water out of a sports type bottle, and he clambered onto her lap and cuddled up in the crook of her arm and sucked the bottle, and eventually he handed her the bottle and she found herself giving him the water from the bottle as you would a baby.
She phoned me as she was a bit worried but I thought that was a brilliant way this child felt secure enough to get what he needed/wanted.,

Sorry I've said too much I'm sure.

NanaNina Tue 07-Jan-14 16:29:48

Me again - just meant to say that the most valuable support for a child with attachment difficulties is play therapy but this is expensive. I think though that you should request LAs fund this therapy. You will find lists of Approved Play Therapists if you google. This therapy is non directed and the children are allowed to play with whatever they like, and the therapist will only intervene if the child is becoming destructive. There is usually a sand tray, play figures, dolls, houses, cars, trains etc. Children will often "play out" their fears in this way as they are far too young to be able to make any use of "talking therapies."

I have a close friend who is a play therapist and she says the thing that comes out most in the children is anger, sometimes throwing soft toys on the floor, mixing sand and water into mud and smothering it over the face of the doll. One child repeatedly bashed the doll's head against the wall, (it was a soft doll) shouting "bastard" several times and then lay on the floor and sobbed.

This isn't a cure of course as there isn't one, but it does allow children to express through play some of their innermost emotions. She also teaches adoptive parents how to spend an hour or so each day just letting the child play with the toys and be "with him" in the sense of sitting near, but not interfering, and after a while the child can in some cases start to show his emotions through play.

Oblomov Tue 07-Jan-14 16:51:42

I have not adopted. I have ASD ds1, whom it was once suggested might have RAD. The tiredness it brings. The lack of support. The fatc that no one believes you and most people think I am a nutter (munchausens) - the cutlery and the constant water out of the bath - some posters were very flippant and dismissive about he clothes back to front and the bath water - that just goes to show that you have NO IDEA - god it IS those bits that are the absolute killer. I hope you never live to find out.

Oblomov I am so sorry if my post about not thinking the bath water was a big deal. I have no idea, you are right. My dd is a quite difficult but not very difficult and I have no idea what the problems are. It is through Mumsnet and the support and knowledge of posters here that I am learning, very slowly, about all the myriad of problems that children and parents can experience. So I am very sorry if I offended you, but we are all (I think) here to learn and try and make sense of children, and that was one thing that did not make sense for me. But I stand corrected.

Nananina thanks for your wisdom. Can I just say put me in with the adopters, which is very flatettering, but I am not yet an adopter. I am a birth mum and approved to adopt.

I (for one) am finding this thread very helpful and so thank you again to all who contribute.

Sorry - typo - Nananina Can I just say you put me in with the adopters... I'm not yet one!

ghostinthecanvas Wed 08-Jan-14 09:16:39

Morning all.
Oblomov, it is like a dripping tap, some days you hear it and other days you can zone out. So hard. Though as we are talking bath water, possibly not the best analogy! wink One of the things I find very difficult is the fact that we know the problem and it doesn't make it easier to get through the day. We know our children are functioning differently. Mostly we are lucky enough to know why. But it is still so hard.
I think of the word spectrum and it makes me think of rainbows. I then just apply that to my children. What colour are they today. Yellow = ok, red = let's get through it. That way labels are less important. Maybe that seems a strange way to approach it but it is one of the things that works for me. Most days anyway.

HollyHB Thu 06-Feb-14 20:09:10

I read the newspaper article. The book was published in 2008 and seems to cover roughly a ten year period so Alex will now be an adult (assuming she is still alive).
The thing that occurred to me immediately was "Did anyone take the trouble to track down Michelle when Alex was a teenager?".

It could be that 10 years later Michelle might have completely turned her life around and would be delighted to have her teenage daughter back in her life. People change enormously over a ten year period (I know my ex did hah!). And reunification with Michelle just might be the thing that Alex so wanted and would not tell anyone. Michelle might be the one and only person in the world to whom she might attach. Of course that would mean social services having to admit they made a mistake.

Too late now of course. All water under the bridge.

eightytwenty Thu 06-Feb-14 22:20:26

Stumbled on this in active conversations. Heartbreaking stories. Why is there a policy to keep kids with their birth parents so that so much damage can be done?

whatrousetoday - I can't imagine what you must have gone through. I'm not sure if anyone else picked up on your comment though - perhaps someone else has been through similar and can help...

crazeekitty Fri 07-Feb-14 13:08:54

Ah lilka. My dd sounds just like your dd did. In fact, much of the behaviour in the mail article is what I see minute by minute and hour by hour. No cruelty to animals or children but the increasingly desperate and inventive ways to seek attention.

What could those parents have done differently? I don't know but I do know I was given plenty of training what you might expect with an ac but I wasn't prepared for all of it coming in one bundle in my house at once. Maybe ss didn't know enough to tell me. In hindsight I think they alluded to things which weren't made explicit. I think that moving a child from fc to an adoptive family peels back layers and layers of emotion that have been buried... Often just to survive in chaotic environments. When they start to surface then stand by!

My dd doesn't say she has another voice in her head (great bit of sensational reporting there) but she talks about having different parts of her brain telling her different things. It's just child speak for saying she's in a massive muddle about things.

What could they have done differently? Probably nothing except stick it out, which would be a difficult decision to make when another child is being affected.

Best advice? Don't scare yourself reading unbalanced articles in a flimsy rag. Good for debate but not for a reasonable account. That wouldn't sell papers

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