Both of my adopted sons, who are 16 and 17, have Reactive Attachment Disorder. When they came to live with us, at 2 and 3 years of age, I thought all I needed to do was love them and they would love me back. When that did not occur, I chose to take it personally. I told myself I was not a good mother, as they did not want to be hugged by me, spend time with me or care about me. I knew a little about RAD, but did not truly understand it’s deep roots and how it manifests in the child’s behavior until I met a mom who’s child had Reactive Attachment Disorder as well. She shared tips she found worked well in creating the relationship she desired with her child. It has taken a few years , but my boys and I are bonded and close.
What were the tips, you ask? The first was to accept where the children are at the time, while letting them know how much they are loved. I told my boys how much I wanted to hug them and when they were ready to please let me know. I asked permission to touch them and accepted their answer. Consistency in letting them know they were loved and how they chose to respond was okay, and was vital in building the bond. As they got older, I would ask if they were open to a hug, sharing their feelings with me or allowing me to share my feelings with them. Finally, I learned to not take their actions personally. They were struggling to make sense of their background and did not know how to create healthy relationships. The more understanding I was of this and the less I made it about me, the happier and closer I become to my sons.