September 29th, 2011
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iStock_000000331847XSmallSometimes the smallest things can speak volumes.

In my house, the disappearance of a carrot peeler doesn’t mean that I’ve misplaced it in the wrong drawer.  It is a red flag that one of my daughters is angry.  Angry at me.

Parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder (RAD.) is not easy.  Parenting is not easy, but when your child has attachment issues that result in a lack of trust, simply loving your child is often not enough.

RAD is a disorder of relationships, and the root cause of the disorder is the broken mother/child relationship.  Until this basic, fundamental relationship is restored with the adoptive mother, the child will be incapable of forging normal, healthy relationships.


I have spent years trying to repair my relationship with my daughters.  During that time I was constantly being undermined, and not just by anyone, I was being undermined by my own children.

In a RAD household, chaos reigns because the child is in control when all others around them are out of control.  RAD children have an arsenal of tools to create chaos.  Elle used to steal things, and Bunny has physically lashed out at me when she was in the middle of a volcanic temper tantrum.

For years, I have the target of my daughters’ anger and resentment.  And for years, because I am human, I reacted with anger and resentment.  But, anger and resentment is destructive to RAD children.  It doesn’t help heal.  It actually makes them worse.

This isn’t anything new.  Even before Elle was diagnosed with RAD, she was constantly stealing my things, the more valuable and sentimental the better.  What she was looking for was my reaction.  If I got angry, then she was happiest, because her goal was to destroy my love for her.  By targeting the parents, especially the mothers, parents of RAD children are basically being abused in their own homes.

The more Elle has healed, the less I become her target.  Now, she would rather die than hurt my feelings.  But, Bunny will still lash out at me when she is angry.

Last week, she was mad at me because she got in trouble at school for talking.  Somehow she felt it was all my fault.  She expressed her anger at me by taking my carrot peeler, and rather than put it in the right drawer, she hid it another drawer, buried underneath some spoons so I wouldn’t find it.

It took me awhile to put all the pieces together and figure out how a seemingly unrelated incident at school resulted in a missing carrot peeler.

Parenting is not easy.  Parenting a child with RAD is even harder.  Especially when you want to make a pot roast.

Photo Credit.

4 Responses to “The Carrot Peeler”

  1. andy says:

    Your story was so interesting. I am a single father with sole custody of my adopted daughter aged 7 and adopted son aged 6. They were both removed from their birth mother when they were young. My daughter seems to have coped with all the rejection from her birth parents and difficulties of her adopted mother very well and is doing exceptionally well at school and is perfectly behaved and very helpful at all times but my poor son is not so lucky. He is believed to have RAD by the specialists although he is still undergoing therapy and full assessment. He is slightly different to your daughters as he does show affection to me and regularly tells me he loves me. He also does not get angry with me and does not shout at people. His main problems are stealing (he too stole the potato peeler about 6 weeks also and also followed it with the spud masher so potatoes are off the menu lol!!!!! Amazing they should both target a potatoe peeler. He is also very distructive and has in the past hit other pupils at school for no reason (he does not get angry or shout at them) and he doesn’t know why (thankfully he has been much better this term). He does say sorry but keeps on saying I try to be good but I just can’t help it (bless). He is also 2 years physically under developed and has toileting problems (it is thought these are part physical and part because of RAD. He is also hyperactive and shows no fear. He would jump off a plank 5 times his height if you would let him!!!! Luckily, I have never felt the regection you have and always believed all his emotionally difficulties were probably due to all the problems he has had with his other 3 parents although less so with the birth parents. I hope things continue to get better for your and your daughters.

  2. porcelain says:

    Maybe you are blessed, that your children can let off steam in their youth and grow into emotionally healthy, well-balanced adults. I grew up in a sterile, post-Victorian household as the skivvy of the family. In those days you didn’t revolt or throw tantrums. You just had to bite the bullet and muddle through, containing any frustrations in silent acceptance. I’ve been traumatised every since, looking for love and have never having had a meaningful relationship. 65 and still going – looking back over my life, I don’t know what I could possibly have done to change it in my youth. I’m very happy to see that there is far more understanding and therapy for adoptees these days.

    • Lanita M says:

      There is a lot more available resources for adoptees. It took us awhile to find what was wrong, then find the right therapists, but when we did, our whole life changed.

  3. alohamom5 says:

    Thank you for your lighthearted approach to such a difficult subject. We are just now starting down the road to some type of help for one of our adopted daughters. Her behaviors have just begun to spiral and I am comforted to hear there is hope! Continued blessings to you and your family as your girls continue to heal and your family continues to bond.

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