You Can’t Be Talkin’ bout My lil Man?! Or Can You?

Yesterday was a very important day in my eyes. An important one indeed. Nope, it wasn’t anyone’s birthday or anniversary. It was a day like any other day….with one exception. MM and I got to go to see the NEW therapist yesterday afternoon.

MM’s first therapist, whom he saw for about 7-8 weeks, continually insisted weekly that we, the parents, do something that we were TOTALLY uncomfortable in doing…..locking him out away from us when he has fits/rages even tho there is NO DANGER involved. Everthing in my gut and all that I’ve read tell me that we are to bring him in closer to us…..not shut him out…alone so that he can feel abandoned once again. Geesh! Dropped her like a bad habit.

MM and I played in the lobby for about 10 min. or so before the thin, pretty, dark-haired therapist came to the lobby for us. First thing she did was NOT to address me….she addressed MM. He liked the attention. We were playing Thomas Trains, naturally as this is about ALL he’ll play (we brought our own toys). She asked him (us) if he’d like to come back with her…..”yeah, but don’t forget my mommy!” he said. He kept a watchful eye to make sure I was right there and wouldn’t abandon him…..he’s so afraid of abandonment….terrified of it.

She went over the rules of her office and what was allowed to be played with, what was touchable and what can be played with but asked for first…and what was totally off limits. Oh boy…..MM tested her BIG TIME on the off limits stuff….the entire time we were there…..about 1 hr and 40 min.

She’s very gentle, soft-spoken and incredibly nurturing without going overboard and yet she’ll be very firm in her “no’s”. I really really like her a lot. She and I went over sooooooo much stuff I think I made her head spin. I had a list of 40 behaviors that I felt were necessary for her to hear about. She so appreciated that and made a copy of it. I just didn’t want to forget anything and one never knows if it’s just “boy stuff” or if it’s Attachment related. Well, come to find out….it’s ALL related. More on that later in this post.

She was talking to me…..and the words came out…..they still haunt me to this moment…to my very core……RAD. For those of you who are most likely reading this post…..you know what RAD is or have dealt with it but for those just glancing through….it’s Reactive Attachment Disorder, the worst aspect of Attachment Disorder. I questioned her on this 3 separate occasions in our conversations. Nope….it’s RAD.

Today I spent a bit of time looking up RAD….but MM already had a diagnosis of Attachment Disorder….just not RAD. I found a wonderful site helpguide.org that helped me see clearly what is laid out in: understanding RAD, what causes RAD, signs/symptoms of RAD, what a parent needs to know on raising a child with RAD, and tips on making your child feel safe/secure (repairing RAD) and lastly, helping your child with RAD feel loved.

Boy did that last one sting a bit…..”helping your child with RAD feel loved.” Are you serious? I love him to pieces and he’s my entire world! I show him this daily all throughout the day…..but I have to put myself in his shoes….he doesn’t trust, doesn’t feel secure, and doesn’t feel loved or worthy of love. I honestly want to cry writing these words. 

There is a reason my son has RAD…..he may not have been able to bond and form an attachment with the FM (Foster Mother) in Guatemala. He was taken away from his BM (birth mother) the very day he was born…..he’d spent 9 months listening to her (in the womb naturally), feeling her…..longing for her. I don’t know the reasons for relinquishment but I have a strong feeling poverty was at play since she had several children already, had adopted out a daughter before MM, and then MM was adopted out to us.  

Let me give you a bit of background on Attachment and RAD:

Children with attachment issues and RAD have great difficulty attaching to others and have a time of controling themselves (emotions). Most often, they lack empathy, self-worth, fear of many things – getting too close to someone so they push them away, anger and a strong need to always be in control. Boy, does that sound like my lil MM.

It’s weird to look back and remember when receiving photos of MM while he was in Guatemala (we received monthly updates,  photos and 3 DVD’s taken by our facilitator) that he rarely smiled in Any of his pictures and not much in the DVD’s either…some in the DVD’s with interaction….but not as much as you’d think. I always thought he was just camera shy….or the person taking the pics just randomly took them whether he smiled or not…lol. If only I’d of known then what I know now….but I cannot and will not beat myself up for the past. It is the past for a reason…..you cannot change it….only move on and learn from it, in all greatest hope that is.

Now, we get to Guatemala and it’s day 1 with MM….he’s not with us for more than an hour or two and he starts hitting dh. I knew at that moment something was up….he’d either seen abuse or was a victim of abuse and thought this was ok. It wasn’t playful hitting either….it was downright  hitting with anger behind those eyes. Yeah, one could say he was upset about the situation…but it hasn’t stopped yet (almost daily) and he’s now 4 1/2.

He gets to Daycare after being home with me for about 8 weeks, and the hitting gets MUCH worse, the behaviors esculate, and so on and so forth. To give you an example of the hitting and how bad it was…..we did a hitting chart to see just how much he was actually hitting at Daycare…..WOW….it was a real eye-opener…..he’d hit 25+ times in the morning and even more in the afternoon on a given day.

Thinking back…..he’d “cling” to a particular worker  and wouldn’t let anyone else care for him without a downright fight on their hands. (I’m doing a lot of thinking back…trying to piece this puzzle together) Then we switched to a preschool setting because the one he was in had little to no discipline, no structure AT ALL…..it was pretty much all free play all the time, and we were going through First Steps and she’d fill us in on the warning signs of what was going on there….BTW…they are no longer in business…go figure! The new preschool was great….and yes, he clung to one particular caregiver immediately. She was the ONLY one who could take him to the window to see me off and wave good-bye. If she were busy, it was pandamonium!!!!

I’ve been in denial for a long time….about Attachment. It is clear to me now that he formed a quick attachment to dh and not to me. Now, don’t get me wrong…..he’s affectionate with me….he tells me he “loves” me without prompting. Mind you….he NEVER shows me affection in public, but will daddy. If he’s “told” to hold my hand because we’re in a parking lot, he will….but only when asked. He’s totally different around me at home than in public.

MM gets very angry with me, taunting me, hitting/kicking me, seems to have no remorse for his actions….he’ll say he’s sorry, but you can tell he’s only doing it because we asked him to. And OH….the control…..that is a post in itself. He ALWAYS has to be first, the best, the better of him and I, and boy oh boy is he defiant and argumentative! And a terrible silly liar….lies about the silliest things that are so obvious. I could go on and on. BUT I do want to say that if your child exhibits several of these…..please, please, don’t wait. Talk to someone who can help. The sooner you “get to it” the better results you’ll have and a better success rate, too.

MM also has a few other issues going on too…..SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and Separation Anxiety Disorder.

I’ve heard that at the point of the trauma…..that is when their brains stopped developing emotionally. They continued to physically grow and can be incredibly intelligent…..but act much less than their chronological age…because of the trauma they’ve experienced. How sad. I’ve got to grieve the loss of this…..I must in order to help heal MM.

First and formost in helping MM develop into the person he can be….I’ve got to give him a sense of felt safety and a sense of security. He doesn’t have that yet. He’s constantly testing me. CONSTANTLY….& it gets OH SO annoying….but I must remember where he’s coming from and not internalize it and make it about ME…..it’s not about me…..it’s about MM. That is so hard in the heat of the moment…..I think I’ll make laminated reminder cards for myself and put them in various places around the house to look at immediately when there’s trouble in the air. Simple reminders that don’t make him out to be the bad guy…he’s not by any means……or to taunt him….no way!! Just daily reminders that (as told to me & others on a group I belong to):

I’m Bigger, I”m Stronger, I’m Wiser, and I’m More Kind.

That should do the trick to remind this girl to take it easy….take a deep breath, blow it out and be calm…..calm….and even more calm in the midst of chaos. THAT will give him a sense of felt safety…..I’m not “losing it” or proving to him that he “won” by showing him that he can’t trust my emotions.

Well…..I’ve practically written a book tonight….thanks for listening to me rant. I’m scared……I’m worried……I’m sad……I’m mad that MM has to live like this because of something that we cannot change. That is exactly it…we cannot change it……we can only change what is NOW and what is COMING. I ask for your continued prayers and we embark on this journey of healing.

Peace to you and yours……

~Mama249

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