Wednesday, March 05, 2008

RAD and a Romantic Dinner

How is it possible that my kids do not have any attachment to each other. Our first thoughts when we decided to adopt was to keep a sibling group together. My kids do not actually care if they are together, they don't really have any attachment to each other. In fact, they are almost resentful of each other. We were naively thinking a group this large would be less likely to have attachment issues than a single child. Boy, were we wrong.

They are healing, I see it in our every day life. When they first came they didn't know how to play with each other, they sort of copied Emma but really just moved the car back and forth not down winding roads or even pretending someone was in the car. Just moved the wheels and crashed them. They tortured the baby dolls, took their heads off, stabbed them, hid the parts around the yard and house (it looked like Halloween in our bushes that summer, we always had a baby's head somewhere out there), nothing had clothes on it, every doll was molested and scarred where their privates should have been, and they had no idea how to play house. Now we have strict rules on baby time, they have to treat it like a real baby or they get a consequence. No hitting or torturing the babies, real kids can not be a baby, and babies must have clothes on at all times. I had to teach them how to play house.

When a child got hurt, the others would disappear. I had to teach them to respond and we are still working on this. They no longer run away but just stare at the person screaming in pain. On a rare occasion someone will come get me but never tend to the injured person. I annoy my children with a constant string of chatter explaining how I expect them to react or behave and what is appropriate for each situation. For example, we are in the van on the way to the park. As we park, I start in on the rules. No talking to strangers, no hitting, no sitting on anyone's lap, no hiding, Cyr' s not to help or play with other's people's kids, no touching privates, no hanging out where I can't see you, if you need to use the restroom tell me (otherwise I swear , they just pee themselves), do not ask for food or drinks from anyone, do not tell anyone your phone number (a few of them know the number and give it to EVERYONE), and so on. They will even tell me some rules that we should have or I have forgotten to mention. Then when they break the rules (they do every time) I just call their name and point to the empty seat next to me. They come right over and proceed to throw a fit scaring the other families. I never say a word unless it gets too bad and we have to leave.

We have had the police called 3 times while in public and the manager or security too many times to count. It has gotten so much better, that first summer was a true nightmare. I felt very alone. My DH tried to help but since he worked I was left to do all the major stuff. Even now he tries to help but the therapy is with me not him. He comes home about dinner time and misses all the good times with homework, snack, chores, therapies, and gets here in time to sit down to eat. I think he doesn't know how to help most of the time. I hate to order him around too but he has no short term memory from a couple of traumatic head injuries in 97 and 99. He is learning our schedule and does his best. He gets too frustrated with the little stuff, like noise. As long as they aren't fighting I will let them get a little loud but most days you wouldn't know we had more than 2 kids in the house. He hates the tantrums, he loses it himself. He just can't understand why they are trashing their room and slamming the door. I don't respond and he can't help himself. He is 6'5" and about 270#, he scares the crap out of them but he is the most gentle person I know. He will holler if they do and that is what scares them. They are sure he will hit them. I can see they are starting to trust my response will be the same and that they are safe with me. It's funny b/c I am the person that takes them to the ground when they have to go, I am the one that does all of the restraints, he is afraid to hurt them and I was the one that has the training.

It became obvious last night how unattached to each other they really are. They don't have real feelings for each other, duh they have RAD. Somehow, I still thought they loved each other. They hadn't really ever lived together before here so how could they have that connection. Even the twins aren't as attached as one would think they should be. I have had to teach them what their response should be. The best thing about my kids is they want to learn. They want to fit in. I predict in the next year we will be able to drop the RAD label and just have attachment issues with 3 of the 5 currently with that dx. They are doing all this work themselves, they are so great. I just hope they figure that out someday, I sure tell them enough.

Last night, we had our monthly romantic dinner. It means Mom and Dad get to eat dinner next to each other alone on the sofa while the kids eat in the kitchen. It is a few feet away but we can still see them. We are down to the last dishes and food so we decided on cereal for dinner. While it isn't romantic for most, it is a few minutes I get my DH to myself. The kids always giggle and listen the entire time, hoping to over hear something.


jen said...

Wow, you have taken on a lot all at once. Glad I found your blog.


momma-o-minnie said...

You need respite. Will social services, the state social services, the mental health agency or someone help you? 2 - 4 to 6 hours days or evenings will make all the difference in a month for your circumstance.

Maggie said...

Is it wrong that I laughed at a lot of this post? I laughed because it is so, so familiar. But then again, I only have one RAD kiddo and he keeps me on my toes all on his lonesome. It does amaze me how you have to teach some of the things that seem like they'd be natural. Such as play and stranger danger. I'd learned about all that before adopting, but living through it is a whole other thing.

Acceptance is such a big part of parenting an RAD child. Accepting that - while they'll attach - it may never be 100% healthy or typical. Accepting that, what is good behavior for our kids, may not be what other parents (and security guards) consider good.

p.s. Thanks for your comment on my doctor visit post. It's good to know that someone else has BTDT and lived to laugh about it. I often get "oh my goodness... poor you... hang in there" comments on posts like that. They always surprise me because I'm totally laughing about the scenario. It's just status quo.

Anonymous said...

Interesting about their sibling relationships -- or perhaps non-relationships. Maybe your kids are daily reminders to each other of times in the past that were scary, painful and dangerous. Perhaps reminders of how much they have lost, in innocence and also in positives? (Okay, perhaps they're not thinking that hard.)
I'm laughing at your mixed messages to the kids: Mom and Dad get to sit together on the sofa for dinner Without Kids (ooh-aah) ... which consists of cold breakfast cereal (hmm).
As you said, the upside is that "they want to learn ... They want to fit in." Well, we can argue that fitting in at your house is like fitting in nowhere else -- but in the end, all families have their own skewed internal culture, and you gotta be FROM somewhere. You have given your kids somewhere Good to be from. -- Rachel

Maia said...

My mom and dad do the "string of chatter explaining how [you] expect them to react or behave" too. Now that my sibs have been with us for 6 & 7 years, it's not such a constant as frequent. They're slowly getting it!

Your description of your "monthly romantic dinner" is too funny. Thanks for writing about your experiences.

Torina said...

That is great. Our daughter used to destroy dinner every night so we started eating in the other room, just my husband and I, and watch the World News. It was fabulous. She wasn't as apt to blow out if we weren't looking right at her and she had to earn us joining her for dinner again. It took a little time, but when she had to beg US to join her that was the icing on the cake.

I love the poop smearing post. Our daughter's hobby is having a crusty butt. The crustier the better. She has never smeared on the walls. But she has stuck her finger right in her butt and smelled it a hundred times. Touching poop is like touching an apple for her, no different. Our kids, like you said, just need to be taught that it is different and it takes longer for them to learn. But eventually, they do learn, and then are grossed out :) Isn't it fun? --Torina

Lorie said...

Okay! Okay! I'm coming over to help....just a minute....geesh, you have to be so whiney?

Tee heee... :-)

Mongoose said...

What I came to realize when I was with Him is that the way he was with me, even though it doesn't look anything like love or caring to the normal mind, is the only way he knows. So that's one way to look at it. But then another way to look at it is that one can be a very normal person and not be attached to one's siblings, e.g. me. I haven't seen anyone I'm related to by blood in over five years and I only talk to one of my siblings and some times to my dad. And the sibling was only once every two or three years until we got into Facebook. And we all grew up together, mind you. My sister and I were never separated until she started school. So, in a sense family attachment is like falling in love, you do or you don't. And you can fall out of it, too.

Anyway. You're doing a fabulous job with what you're doing, and remember, you've only had them, what, two years? And the oldest is 11? You have three times as long to work with her yet as you've done already. Six times as long for the little ones. You're gonna work miracles in that time. You're probably never gonna get exactly what you want, and you're certainly never gonna get it right when you want it, but you're gonna amaze yourself nonetheless.

I believe in you.