I just finished watching the documentary, Forfeiting Sanity, What If Love Is Not Enough?
My heart is racing and my stomach is churning, the stories shared sound so very familiar and bring back memories, none of them good.
Reactive Attachment Disorder is terrifying at it's very best, it is a disorder that goes against all human instinct. It is something few people with healthy minds can begin to grasp and if you are among those who cannot wrap your mind around it, praise God! Imagine, if you will, that you are longing for a child, you have pleaded with God, gone through demeaning procedures and shelled out money right and left all because you want a child. One happy day a little one comes into your life, you praise God, share your good news and praise God some more but you forget that the little person in your arms has a past, a dark traumatic past and you will have to reckon with that past someday in the not to distant future. But for now you revel in this little one, the answer to your prayers.
Days pass and the love you felt those first few days is waning and you feel awful. Friends and family ooh and aah over how adorable and sweet your child is and you feel something like resentment creeping into your heart. But why? You toss idea's around in your head, is it because he cries so much or is it because he is so incredibly needy and I am not used to caring for a child? But deep inside you know that isn't true, the truth, if you allow yourself to acknowledge it, is simple: you don't like this child you prayed for. On the heels of that thought comes guilt, intense guilt, what kind of mom doesn't like her child?
So you throw your all into loving this child but the more you love and nurture this little one, the nastier he becomes. Oh not to everyone, just mom and sometimes dad. So you think, "He can't handle love so I will back off and give him some space," but by now he has placed you squarely in the enemy camp and nothing you do makes a bit of difference, he is terrified of bonding with you and his fear comes out in hate and rage.
In desperation you reach out for help, but no one see's what you do, so they assume it must be you. You are a bad parent, there is something wrong with you if you cannot love this sweet child. The things you share are unfathomable, could it be you are, well, going crazy? So the talk goes on and bits and pieces trickle back to your ears, isolating you even more, making you doubt your ability to parent, maybe you really are messed up.
You take your child to therapists who assure you that if you do XYZ they will be okay. You follow their instructions to the letter, you are so desperate for help that you want to be sure this child's failure to heal is not because of something you failed to do correctly. But your child continues to become more and more emotionally unstable. Your other children withdraw from you because they cannot understand why this child who is so mean to their mom "get's away with it." They also see their sibling being super sweet away from home, all the while remembering the screaming, raging and terror he deals out at home. Naturally, they distance themselves from their sibling. One day you "wake up" and realize that your family is falling apart. Your traumatized child has nearly succeeded in breaking down the family unit so vital to their healing. Now what?
The therapist agree's that something must be done, but what? You search through your options but you cannot find a place that adequately meets your childs needs. If you don't find something DHS will become involved and you may well lose all of your children because DHS is notorious for misunderstanding RAD and the resulting problems. You are stuck, you prayed for this child, pleaded with God for a baby and he graciously answered your prayer, but now you are in over your head. Were you wrong for asking? Is God punishing you?
The future looks dark, there is no way out. This child has succeeded in dividing your family, there are times you are terrified of him, what if he.....? Will your family tragedy appear on the front page of your local paper someday? And what of the hurting child you promised to love and care for? He is becoming more ill by the day, you failed him, you feel you failed your family.... professionals have no answers, no one can care for your child because of he lies and tells horrible stories of the things you did to him, none of which are true but they sound plausible.
You feel trapped, there is no way out, you are under chronic stress and there are years of increasing pain ahead unless something changes, this my friends, is where many parents find themselves. They no longer trust their own parenting skills because they failed so miserably to reach their child, the future has no joy, every day is a repeat of pain and fear. Your heart feels like it is missing in action but somehow in it's absence it continues to break and die a little more every day.
You can buy your own copy of Forfeiting Sanity here