September 1st, 2011
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Helping HandsYou can never truly understand a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes.  I don’t know what it’s like to be adopted, or to be given up at birth, and I don’t know what it’s like to have reactive attachment disorder (RAD).

I know what it’s like to be an adoptive parent, and I know what it’s like to be a parent of a child with RAD, but I don’t understand what goes on in her head when she is raging out of control.

I take Bunny to therapy once a week, I’ve taken Elle to RAD camp, and I am an AWESOME RAD mom, but as much as I say the right things and parent in a strong and loving fashion…I just don’t get it.


However, there is a person in our family that does know what it’s like to manipulate, to hide behind a curtain of charm, and to have a dysfunctional set of emotions.  One of the few advantages of raising two children with RAD is the understanding they share regarding their disorder.

Life is always easier when you don’t feel alone.  Feeling like you are the only person travelling down a particular road is the most isolating feeling in the world.  It doesn’t matter if you are six, or forty-six.

This has been a difficult summer around our house.  If Bunny wasn’t raging, then we were waiting for her start a rage.  Our house was like an armed camp.  The more Bunny’s emotion tilted off center, the more it affected everyone in the family.  The hatches were battened down daily.

Until one day when Elle took matters into her own hands.  It had been a rough day and I was looking forward to bedtime.  Elle offered to put Bunny to bed, and because I needed a break, I let her do the honors.

I was expecting a two minute tuck-in, but ten minutes went by, then twenty, and at thirty minutes I thought I should go and check on them.  As I walked into Bunny’s room, they were sitting on the bed facing each other, quietly talking.  Elle held up her hand to me indicating they weren’t finished and that I should leave.

Afterwards, Elle told me what they had talked about which was based on something I had said earlier in the day.  Apparently, I told Bunny she wasn’t alone and there was one person in the world who understood what she was feeling…her sister.  I guess Elle took my comment to heart.  They discussed their RAD and Elle tried to help Bunny understand her feelings and tried to help her feel less alone.

Things have started to slowly change in our house.  Bunny is starting to heal, and there is a definite shift in our house.  Therapy is helping, but I think having an older sister that understands and loves her enough to put aside sibling rivalry to help her heal has made a huge impact on Bunny’s life.

Photo Credit.

2 Responses to “Healing Hands of a Sister”

  1. mjana72 says:

    Hi Lanita,
    I added a comment to your dancing diva post describing my family. Our daughter Anna is 11 and is from Russia and our daughter Jenna is from Guatemala. After posting I read the rest of your entries. OMG! The similarities are amazing. Anna is a RAD kid and Jenna has been raging every day. Don’t know what’s triggered her but its been awful. We see a therapist once a month but we are having to go back to the big guns…the attachment and bonding center because things are out of control around here. Your posts are so poignant to me… I love what you have to say…esp because I feel it so keenly. They differences between the Russian and the Guatemalan are sharp. Anna isn’t a hugger…Jenna is a lover. But she has so much anger and pain she is having a hard time functioning at home. So far both excel at school but I’m thinking it has to spill over into the school day soon. Thanks for listening…I feel like I’ve stumbled upon my own bad self, but suddenly I don’t feel quite so alone! A hug to you…

  2. thenormalone says:

    I am adopted from China as well as my little sister all though we are not blood relatives. I do not have RAD, but my sister has moderate RAD where she is constantly disrespectful, disruptful, aggressive, and will not accept affection. Do you have advice on how to help her? That’s all I want. My mom suffers so much personally because of her behavior, and I would do anything to help my family.

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