It’s called Reactive attachment disorder, or RAD, and it leaves kids unable to connect with other people and is common among adopted children.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Reactive attachment disorder develops because the child’s basic needs for comfort, affection, and nurturing aren’t met and loving, caring attachments with others are never established. This may permanently change the child’s growing brain, hurting the ability to establish future relationships.”
Can you imagine jumping through all the hoops required to adopt a child, giving your heart and everything you have to that child, only to discover the child is unable to connect with you? And it isn’t just a child being unable to connect, kids with RAD can be extremely difficult to deal with and can even exhibit dangerous behavior, as was the case for Eric Kinzel who had to give up his adopted daughter Alani because he was afraid for his family’s safety.
As The Huffington Post reports, Alani and her older brother Julian were neglected by their mother. That particular kind of abandonment can often lead to RAD, says therapeutic parenting specialist Nancy Thomas.
“The reason they want to kill their mother especially, but both parents often, is to stop the love because love hurts,” Thomas said. “They got their little hearts broken, and they don’t want love because it may hurt them again.”
Kinzel adopted Alani when she was nearly 4. He says he was shocked by how manipulative the girl was at such a young age. He says he was eventually forced to purchase an alarm for her bedroom door after finding a family photo with everyone’s eyes gouged out. They found the knife the little girl used hidden under her mattress.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of RAD in toddlers, older children and adolescents may include:
- Withdrawing from others
- Avoiding or dismissing comforting comments or gestures
- Acting aggressively toward peers
- Watching others closely but not engaging in social interaction
- Failing to ask for support or assistance
- Obvious and consistent awkwardness or discomfort
- Masking feelings of anger or distress
- Alcohol or drug abuse in adolescents
RAD is a most brutal condition because, while it can be improved with treatment, the changes that occur during early childhood are permanent and the disorder is a lifelong challenge. The Kinzels tried various treatments for four years but eventually made the extremely difficult decision to remove Alani from the home. Her reaction shocked Kinzel.
“She was excited. She was happy. She said, ‘Hey, I’m going to get a new mom and dad.’ When my son (Alani’s biological brother) said to her, ‘What about me? I’ve looked after you since you were born,’ she just simply looked at him and said, ‘Well, you’re not my brother anymore.’”
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