November 9th, 2007
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A friend recently sent me a link to an article that appeared in a British newspaper. My friend told me she had heard this paper was the equivalent of the Enquirer in America, so consider the source when you read the article. However, if even half of this story is factual, many of us will relate to the plight of this woman—and this child.

This is the story of a single mom who adopted a 7-year-old girl from the foster care system in England. The mom has a biological daughter whose father is from Tanzania. A Tanzanian girl was sent by her biological family to live with an uncle, but the placement fell apart and the child entered the system. The single mom, drawn to the girl’s ethnicity and plight, brought her into her home with the intentions of creating a happy family unit. Alas, it didn’t work out that way …


The mom sensed “a barrier” between her and the child from the very beginning. The child had a mom in Tanzania, never mind the fact that the mom had shipped her off while still keeping a more favored daughter in the family. The child was waiting for her biological family to come fetch her home. It didn’t happen—wasn’t going to happen. But the child still held out hope.

Eventually, the placement disrupted. There was no mention of support services for this mom—just platitudes from the placing agency. The headline of the article is a killer—I didn’t like my adopted daughter so I gave her back. Can we crucify this mom just a little more? I didn’t even bother to read the comments … I know what they will say.

This story is incredibly parallel to my story of Cindy, the Philippino girl we attempted to add to our family in the mid-90’s. Her birthmom had sold her twice, but Cindy returned home like a homing pigeon. Birthmom had another daughter—Cindy’s half-sister—and birthmom was fond of saying, “I love your sister because I loved her dad—I didn’t like your dad!” When we attempted to incorporate Cindy into our family, she made it abundantly clear that she already had a mom. She both loved and hated Stephanie, because Steph was about the same age as Cindy’s sister in the Philippines. She told our church choir director that she had come to America to “get an education.” She wanted a place to land, but the family was not included in her plans. She made no effort to do the work necessary to become part of our family and the placement disrupted.

This also fits with the many conversations I have had this week with Dora about making a decision to “love the one you’re with.” This article about this British mom is so sad … and so is the fact that her birth daughter suffered as well. It is all too familiar, is it not?

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23 Responses to “Love the one you’re with”

  1. Bippette says:

    When I read these things it makes me wonder if J is hopeless. Am “I” beating my stubborn head against a brick wall.

    When and how do you decide they aren’t going to change? When do you give up? How do you measure progress?

    Do I keep trying as long as he doesn’t leave our home and assume that if he stays he’s wanting to work on it?

    How do you know that a child is like Cindy or Kathy and just won’t ever chose to give up drugs and embrace a family?

    Sometimes I think we see progress….and then we have nights like last night, and I think its hopeless.

  2. rebrev says:

    I lived in Great Britain and the Daily Mail is like a daily tabloid. I read the story and was so saddened by it. I continually hear blame placed on parents when they cannot develop a relationship with their adopted son and daughter. I also work with a number of parents who continued to parent their sons and daughters beyond their legal responsibilities (the child reaching the age of majority); and there is still no relationship except that the son or daughter asks for things or money or wants to be assured that he/she will get something in the house when his/her mother and father die. That saddens me too. Having daughters who continually tell me that I am not their mother though they have been in my house for over seven years gets exhausting. Okay, I get it. They do not see me as their mother. I still have legal, and other people would say, many other responsibilities toward them. However, the loss of what I had hoped for, daughters, is still present.

  3. greatful says:

    why are you so hard on Amy. I mean she is no longer in your life so why do you have anger for her. you have said you no longer care about her in many ways so why keep writting about her as if she is still part of your life. im very sure she no longer calls you and im also sure her taboo life still as you have made very clear is not what you would have hoped for so why write of her. the way so write seems like you have physical abusive mind and your verbal skill have a lack of respect for the one who do not follow you. dont get me wrong i may be wrong but thats the way you have expressed your feelings. are you sure you dont regret what you have done with her up bringing.

  4. Julie says:

    I’m confused…this blog is about Cindy????

  5. Cynthia says:

    These recent anti-Nancy/Amy-was-a-victim-of-your-parenting comments are starting to sound the same. The previous one from sweet12 (in your “Trainwrecks All Around” post) had exactly the same writing style and capitalizations, etc. I suspect, like another reader has surmised, that someone known to her is creating screen names and making these posts.

  6. Well, Cynthia, if that is true, I hope that reader or those readers go back and read the ones that talk about how hard I tried, how much I hoped for her, and how much her family loves her.

  7. This didn’t turn out the way I expected. I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I also didn’t expect to be screamed at, told I was “not Mom”, watch property be destroyed, have my life threatened, or have this child try and escape me out the window, into the snow in order to run away. Finally we had to call the police, for transport to a hospital, just to keep four siblings safe, and allow them to go to their beds at some point. Tonight. I am still waiting for my husband to call or come home from the hospital. I don’t know if he will have our child with him or not. I am afraid to even be alone with and be fully responsible for this child’s care. They outweigh me, and they have it in for me. I know I cannot physically restrain them, but I must put myself between them and four other children. My husband is bearing up well and is highly invested, but he will have to quit his job and come home to maintain order if things don’t change soon. Then how will we live? We have already invested nearly everything we have materially into making a home for our children. I am so disheartened by the numbers of people who give up everything for these children, and still get crucified in a court of public opinion when they “fail”. I can’t believe you get out there Nancy, and talk about your failures. You may as well paint a big bull’s eye on your chest. And I can totally see what you’re saying about the ones that didn’t plug in. I see it across my own dining room table. In hind sight, with the ones that went “less than well”, what do you wish you would have known , or done differently? Do you really believe the tide has turned with Beth, and can turn with Dora? It seems as though every time we seem to gain a little ground and I experience hope, it is just to have it dashed again. It is an exhausting cycle that I am unsure I can keep up.

  8. Lindy says:

    Boy can I identify! As we speak, my 15 year-old RAD has been reported missing (for the second time in 8 days) and I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I truly don’t want her in my home if she can’t be respectful (and she refuses). It hurts the other kids and strains our marriage. I don’t know what our next step will be or can be. If I had another option as far as her living arrangement, I would exercise it. I’m hoping someone out there can offer some suggestions as to how to handle a child who clearly doesn’t want to be a part of our family and does everything in her power to bring us down. The police said that she had to have a history of running away in order to detain her for any length of time. What constitutes a history?
    How much abuse do we need to subject ourselves to before we can change the family dynamic for the better? I need a game plan and I need it NOW.

  9. Mabel03 says:

    Lindy, so sorry to hear of your situation. You know, there does not seem to be any clear guidance from anyone when a child obviously does not want to be in one’s home until they have made in-your-face threats. Our wounded child is currently living with another family who is trying to minister to him, but we know the poop will hit the fan there eventually as well and then we don’t know where to go or what to do because of legal issues that muddy up the waters in our specific case.

    And no matter what, others are going to think what they are going to think, but it is so hard, because I love wounded child, but he has made the decision to purposely, systematically try to dehumanize, demean, and hurt me. Nobody should have to live that way. And nobody seems to understand that we are not horrible, bad, rotten parents. It’s easier, I suppose, to look at us sideways than to fully grasp the depths of wounded child’s mental health issues. But it is hurtful when people want to say we caused all this. Deep down, I know that is not the case, and I implore you to find your own peace through counseling and prayer, because that guilt can eat you alive, too.

    I have no doubt if wounded child were still in our home (and he’s been out since late July) that I would have been hurt (or worse) by now and that wounded child’s stated efforts to turn our other son against us would have been at least partially successful.

    I think our game plan is going to have to be a psych unit placement when wounded child wears out his welcome at the home where he is right now and then on to state care. It is far, far from what I want, but he is making choices that force my hand.

  10. Mabel03 says:

    Just reread my post and realize that I failed to mention how GREAT things have been with having our son, the one who has claimed us, too, here. I never saw the issues with wounded child, because they came on in a subtle fashion. We thought perhaps he was just more private, more reserved. We didn’t know it was RAD.

    With him out of our home, we are seeing what a true family bond is. It is absolutely the best to be a parent to a child who wants to be a part of a family. Others have even mentioned how our second son seems to be really blooming now.

    So, it stinks that wounded child has made some horrible choices we all have to live with, but there is an upside. Life is so much more pleasant, safe, and worthwhile without the constant mind games, threats, subtle disrespect, etc., etc. I know some will flame me, but right now, I love my life without wounded child. I can breathe. I can sleep. I can sit wherever I want without thinking about whether I am safe there or not. I can reprimand my younger son for misbehaviors without wounded child coming behind my back and trying to persuade our other son that I do not have the right to talk to him like that, that he can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Yep, life, for this day, is better. And even saying that brings just a hint of sadness because of what could have been …

  11. Cerise says:

    At first, I was uncomfortable thinking Amy would be offended that she was being described to strangers but I really have gained from reading about the experiences. I think that sometimes we regress and try to offer something to our RAD because we want to put our fingerprints on a solution or an improvement in the RAD’s life but you know, it really is like pouring through a sieve. Their eczema or their acne may be improved with your attention, their diet may improve for as long as you are willing to thanklessly force, cajole and weedle homecooked meals into them but finally, it just becomes too destructive to yourself to try to construct something in them for them. It’s time to push yourself away from the table before their RADness wastes any more of your life.

  12. getting old says:

    you know though…. sometimes kids are born with just really bad skin… my daughter has the worste acne 2 dematologist have seen and since we are not birth control people (and even that reportedly would not help much) she takes stuff to control and improve… but not totally get rid of the acne..

    I knew a kid on strick diet, meds, etc… but still his eczema was sooooo bad it often bled, skin a mess…

    adoptive parents did not cause their kids problems in the vast majority of cases… we should get help, not all this other crap

  13. greatful says:

    believe me when i had sent the blog that i did i wasn’t looking for errors. But when i looked over it to see if what i was feeling was sent the way i felt i then realized what i had done and i felt lets say it stuped. i haped that maybe you as the reader could see past that, but in some compassion you have become. Not only did you not look past that but it was so capsizing (you the reader)that the error even made you forget to have an open mind as a parent and see past that. I am a parent and i tried finding some type of love between Nancy and Amy. I am Questioning your parenting skills toward the end Nancy and I am making it clear so no “mistake” will be assumed. Good Grief did you really have you badger her? The whole idea of her seems to make Amy sound like a person who would bacome a killer bacause she has no love for “you”. Do quote me on that bacause i ment to write it like that. Does she always have to show love like Beth to get such an assortment of “she’s perfect”. you smothered her by forcing her to feel for you that she became reclusive from you and the family. Probably bacause the family bacame scared to act on their rightfully so emotions. I don’t now perhaps fear of what you would do if ….. something like what i’m writing about was to happen. I am upset on how heartless you have become for Amy and how blinded you have become to see yourself as part of the mistake. No i’m not just a blogger hacking in to the system and making false name nor am I the same blogger of the dare you call yourself an equal to me and any one who has the same respect for love like I do. My kids are not bad at all. Yes they came from the same backgroung like your 2 kids “you still call your kids” do yourself a favor why don’t you serve then each divorce papers and call it quiets if thats how you feel for them. Why not respect the dignity they have left. My kids had a very abusive upbringing but they are happy now and love me. The difference between Tommy and Amy and Beth is they lived the hatred.

  14. Cerise says:

    When I referred to bad skin, I was thinking about Amy not using the prescription cream.

  15. Chromesthesia says:

    Too much judgement, and not enough facts. That’s the problem.
    Adoptive parents should not be attacked for trying to do what is best for children already in their homes. Unless folks have been through what they have been through, they have no right to throw their opinions without an ounce of fact around.
    We really need to counter these myths, this idea of being simplistic, it’s not helping children one bit. It’s not helping them to heal. Painting this woman as a bad mother won’t help parents in situations like this, it will only add to their guilt when this isn’t their fault. What about the biological parents? The system? Photolistings for listing children as if they are puppies or rabbits instead of focusing on the real problems that they have that their adoptive parents will have to learn to deal with?
    This woman and others like her should have gotten help, resources, counseling for this child, but she didn’t, so what else was she supposed to do? No one wants to make such a painful decision, so why force them without doing what needs to be done?

  16. Cerise says:

    I still live with my RAD sibling and the parent who made him this way with early terrorizing and alternating obliviousness to him until he would never ever truly engage the real person inside with the outside world or even himself. I resist the urge to help him further. If he wants to sit in his room for five hours in the morning instead of getting food in the kitchen for himself until the car comes back for him to find some takeout order someplace, so be it. He is perfectly capable of ordering from a menu but he can’t forage in his own home nevermind cook. When he comes home, he wants a hot meal prepared for him but he will never openly incur the debt by asking nicely. It’s all mealy mouthed passive aggressive “might as well” phrases. After nearly two months, my mother changed his bed sheets for him. As for being happier being away, I’m wearing ear mufflers as I type this so I don’t have to digest whatever selfpropping is coming out of the parent’s mouth and the suffering but ultimately selfish endurance coming out of the RAD that he considers a payoff for having someone listen to him talk and provide food for him (eventually.)

  17. Cerise says:

    Growing up I didn’t attach to outside adults because at the end of the day, they weren’t going to take me home and keep me forever. Nancy took Amy home and made a commitment to her. Maybe Amy needed to have gotten a taste of what kind of bio parents she could have had before she knew what to do with a wish granted.

  18. lucy says:

    I apparently can’t read. I didn’t see any hatred or bitterness toward Amy in this blog. I saw sadness for what could have been. I saw a wish that a missing daughter could have joined the fun of this big family celebration. I don’t get where you see anger.

    Maybe it’s because I know Nancy. Maybe it’s because I watched Amy grow up and had many conversations with her.

    I think Amy is in for a very hard life but I also know she was given the love and support and education she needs to change that if her heart ever desires to do so.

    My 18 year old son, who I love dearly but could not live with talked to me recently about needing a family but being unable to handle one. This is HIS acknowledgement, not mine.

    Amy IS Nancy daughter and no matter where she is, or how sad the memories are, she will always be part of Nancy’s family and ignoring that pain and that truth would just be faking that it didn’t matter. It does.


  19. says:

    We have an Amy in our lives also. Like Nancy and her family, we poured ourselves out to try and help our son. It was HIS choice to not want to take advantage of what is offered, and HIS choice to deal with the consequences of poor decisions.

    It is hurtful at best and offensive and destructive at worst when others deem it their responsibility to sit in judgement over the need we as parents of RADishs and other challenging children to be realistic.

  20. Cerise says:

    It’s nearly 7 pm and the RAD has yet to eat the first meal of the day. He was passive aggressively non responsive when his reluctant parent pointedly asked him this morning if he wanted her to cook for him or would he be getting a takeout order. He didn’t want to admit to wanting a meal and she definitely did not want to cook. This time she did not cook and when he got out of bed an hour ago, he found nothing prepared and waiting for him. She is now cooking dinner for both of them and I can imagine she is angry especially since my CD can be heard playing through my closed door. What do RADs expect? That they don’t reap what they sow in terms of how they treat their caretakers? I am somewhat RAD myself in terms of not bonding to others but I don’t expect to get more than I put out and then resent and try to abuse the person who won’t give me something for nothing. I firmly do not believe that RADs feel owed any degree of care but that individuals who have RADs perceive attachment to them by their caretakers and try to exploit that for their own need to be aggressive and have power over another person.

  21. Cerise says:

    When the RAD is at his job, he has no problem taking a break to get food when he is hungry regardless of whether his coworkers have invited him to participate in a takeout order so the RAD knows when he is hungry, he just decides to behave this way at home so yeah, Amy is better off “abandoned” by Nancy.

  22. sweet12 says:

    ok I am not greatful or fearless… I would not talk like that… ok I did in the past… but stop this… greatful… that was mean…right… but mean

  23. private investigators danbury ct…

    Love the one youre with – Reactive Attachment Disorder…

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