RAD Topics

More Symptoms of RAD

I’m going to continue talking about the list of symptoms found in Dr. Keck’s book (Please refer to my last post). My two adopted girls demonstrated all of the symptoms in the book except the preoccupation with fire symptom.

The symptoms I’m discussing today are:

  • Indiscriminate affection towards strangers
  • Little eye contact with parents, on normal terms
  • Persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter
  • No impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive)

Indiscriminate affection towards strangers – I have two separate stories for each of my adopted daughters that illustrate how we experienced the reality of this symptom.

1.   Second adopted daughter – I had to keep an eye on her all the time, whether in public or at home, because she was always too friendly to everyone. Even at 10 to 12- years – old she would intruded in everyone’s personal space regularly. She liked to touch everyone, even though she could see that the other person was distancing themselves. She would say that she knew better but she just decided she had a RIGHT to do what she wanted. It got her in trouble at school several times, especially with the touching.

When she was pre-teen, she paid very special attention to one particular married man at our church. She would stand in his way when he was trying to get by. This man was very appropriate with her and tried to be polite but it got to a point that I had to tell her she wasn’t to approach him anymore. Then, when she was around sixteen, she began to be obsessed with a married police officer in the town…

2.   First adopted daughter – When she was twelve years old she started to lie to us about who she was talking to on the computer. I was pretty electronically challenged at the time, so I didn’t think much about it at first. Then I started to get strange pop up advertisements when I was on the computer.

Then she was on the computer more and more with the computer going bling, bling, and bling with instant messages. We were so naive at that time!!! Not too long after this, our phone rang and she answered it up stairs. I just had a gut feeling that I should pick up the phone and I’m glad I did. There was a man on the other end of the line!

We discovered she was deep into it all on the computer and was conversing with many guys. She was planning to run away with the man she was talking with on the phone. She said she loved him and wanted to be with him or die.

Now, all this computer stuff is common now, but back then it wasn’t.  She had no discretion or personal control. The psychologist was very concerned as were her dad and I.

We also discovered she gave out her personal information and my other daughter’s names, our home address, the schools they went to, their pictures, and what activities they were involved with. We began to have strange cars passing our house at all hours. I was concerned how safe we were in our house.

Needless to say, we got an unlisted number, and this began our enlisting professional help. We did need to let the school know what happened so my girls didn’t run into any of the predators during or after school. We also got the police involved and discovered that the “man on the other end of the phone line” was being watched by the police for several things. We had to tell some of the parents of our daughter’s friends because she introduced them to the predator on line. NOT a happy event!

Little eye contact with parents, on normal terms – Both of our adopted daughters wouldn’t make eye contact with my husband or me unless they were lying. It became humorous at times because it gave then away almost every time. It hurt my heart to watch them play games that weren’t beneficial for them or those around them. What was the point anyway? The only reasoning I found was it kept us at a distance. They thought they didn’t need anyone and were “winning” at not letting anyone close. Wow, what a sad way to live!

Persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter and No impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive – I put these two symptoms together because a RAD child is so good at combining the two. Both of our girls would incessantly chatter. RAD kids want to push any buttons they can all day long. They seem to get great pleasure in causing chaos, probably because they have such chaos inside. It makes them feel in control in some way. Also, remember they want to make the adoptive mother leave the home for good. Their intention is to make things as uncomfortable as possible.

Both girls did love to ask many questions and then not wait long enough to listen for the answers. We took them to a doctor for the ADD and ADHD. Later, when we got them help for the RAD symptoms, we discovered that some of the ADD/ADHD symptoms were RAD symptoms intentionally causing chaos, push buttons and keep everyone at a distance.


I’m curious if anyone out there has experienced anything like what my husband and I have with RAD? If so please express what you are thinking. I would love to hear from you!!


Continuation on RAD

Today will be a continuation on the subject of RAD. In this post, I will highlight some of the symptoms and elaborate on the symptoms that we personally experienced with our adopted girls. I hope to bring both awareness and encouragement to adoptive families who may be navigating through some of the issues associated with RAD.

RAD stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder. There is a list of symptoms for RAD in the books written by Dr. Gregory Keck, PhD. and Regina M. Kupecky, LSW. The title of the books I’m referencing are “Adopting the Hurt Child” and “Parenting the Hurt child.”

The list of RAD symptoms range from:

  • being charming
  • lacking of affection
  • lying
  • stealing
  • lacking conscience
  • cruelty to animals
  • preoccupation with fire.

For a full list of symptoms look in the above books. They are great resources. Another option is to google “RAD” to find a myriad of information.

As mentioned in my previous post, even a newborn can decide to build a wall around their heart to protect themselves from the pain of being orphaned. This happens very early on, sometimes the very moment the birth mother gives them up. The decision/vow not to let anyone close because they don’t want to be hurt again sets into their hearts like cement.

I want to encourage any parent of an adopted child experiencing difficulties with RAD – it is not your fault! You didn’t cause RAD. The birth mom or birth family disrupted the normal bonding development of your adopted child. RAD happens before an adoptive family receives an orphan into their home. The birth mom is the relationship that affected your child’s behavior. Then, if the child was repeatedly disrupted in the bonding process, the deficit of bonding is even worse. The orphan can then decide to build the wall around their heart even more in-impenetrable. The longer the orphan does this, the harder it is for the orphan to be healed. So, it is important to get help for your child when they are still young.

Topics of RAD

I am going to elaborate on some of the symptoms (listed above) which I personally experience. There will be more on this topic in later posts:

Charming – when your child is very pleasing and pleasant to everyone in public but treats you like crap at home. Especially the adoptive mother. You’re the person they chose to project their anger on because you have stepped into the role of their birth mother. Remember your child is ultimately angry at but fantasizing about their birth mom. It’s a very twisted frame of mind going on in their head. The birth mom is the one that caused RAD to set in to your child’s heart. So, when you get home YOU get treated like crap? You get punished with their anger and difficult behavior to keep you at a distance. I can’t begin to number the times people would say to me, “Your children are so sweet and well behaved.” To explain to them that my children are Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde wouldn’t make sense to them so I would just smile and nod my head in frustration.

Lack of affection –  If you’re able to bond to others then you can give your love away and not feel like you have to protect your heart. But, if your orphan has RAD, when you hug them they protect their heart furiously so you can’t work yourself into their affections and heart. They probably have that spot only reserved for their birth mom if ever she would take them back or ask for forgiveness. Orphaned children with RAD lack affection unless it is on their terms with the intent to manipulate to get something they want.

My first adopted daughter would stiffen up when I hugged her. But, if she wanted to, she could somehow cover her heart and hug me mainly to move the hearts of anyone watching. If we had guests, she would make huge spectacles of loving affection towards me saying, “mommy I love you.”

Lying – There are three types of lying:

1) Catching them with “their hand in the cookie jar” and they deny it.

2) Expressing “half-truths” that make the situation seem all true.

3) Exaggerating lies that made what they are saying seem better or worse than it really was.

My girls were masters’ at all three types of lying. It became so easy for them to make something up. But, it became harder and harder for them to remember the story lie that they made up last time to cover the lie before that one. On and on the lies went.

Stealing – My adopted daughters only stole a couple of times to my recollection. Their friends had things they wanted so they stole them.

Lack of conscience – Even though my adopted daughters lived under the same roof, were taught the same morals, and went to the same church as my biological daughter, they still decided on their own morals. There morals allowed the stealing, lying, manipulation, etc.

Cruelty to animals and preoccupation with fire – my second adopted child was the only one that was cruel to animals.
I have no personal experience with RAD and the preoccupation with fire.


In upcoming posts, I will cover other symptoms of RAD. In the meantime, have you ever experienced any of the above mentioned symptoms with your adopted children? Have you found successful methods to deter these behaviors or cope as a family? I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.

Fantasy Plus

Fantasy Continues

Today I’m going to continue with the devastation and anger issues fantasy brings and when left unchecked. Fantasy got Our second adopted daughter into trouble when she started pre-school. She began acting out, showing aggression and being uncooperative. I now understand, many years later, she was mad that she had to go to school when she would rather be at home playing dress up and in fantasy mode.

I didn’t understand it at the time, but the dress up fantasy obsession was the same familiar issue as fantasizing life with her birth mom. Most orphaned children fantasize about their life with their birth families. I was not her birth mom whom she would rather be with. So, She fantasied to the point she believed that she could get me out of the house permanently by creating chaos all the time. Her desire was to get me out so she would bring her birth mom to the US to marry my husband or she would marry my husband. Fantasy breads delusional fantasy.

She also began to do the exact opposite of what I asked her to do. If I asked her to take a nap while we were driving in the car she would fight and force herself to stay awake. If I asked her to stay awake she could “on command” go to sleep. This was also reflected in behaviors like: She did not like me as her mom so the longer I was her mom, the more determined she was not going to “permit it”.

What didn’t make sense to me was the birth mom (who was blood family to her) abandoned and rejected her – yet my adopted child she is so devoted her. But I get my adopted daughters anger and aggression when rejection and abandonment is the last thing I’m giving her. I am loving and accepting her. Go figure!!

As she grew older, she was more and more blatant about her aggression against me. She began to intentionally spill her drink on the floor to make my housework work harder. (Once we caught on, it became her housework to clean up) She continued to destroy my personal things. If she got in trouble and my husband gave her a chore to do, she would always turn her misbehavior around to be my fault. She would somehow punish me for her disobedience. For example, one my husband gave her a chore of taking all the leaves out from around my Iris plants that the leaf blower couldn’t remove. She understood how much I loved my Iris plants because they came from my parents’ house. So, as punishment to me, she pulled out all but probably 20% of my Iris, root and all, and threw them into the woods. There are places in our woods now that are absolutely gorgeous with Iris blooms.

She progressed and progressed in her fantasies to the point she began to threaten to kill me. It’s sad to see anyone allow their fantasy to overtake them to the point of desiring murder. She wanted her birth mom so badly and I was in her way. All sense of reality left her little mind and she was going to do whatever was necessary to accomplish her fantasy. This quickly turned into anger, aggression and ultimately more delusion. I began to be concerned that I would wake up some night with her standing over me with a knife.


I have already previously mentioned the diagnosis called RAD. It means Reactive Attachment Disorder. With this disorder something happens to the “little heart” of a child when he/she discovers that their mother has left them. Put yourself in their position. You have now spent nine months in the womb of your mom. You know what she sounds like, smells like and moves like. Except, the familiar smell, voice, and movements just disappear.

As I understand this disorder, it is at this very moment the “little heart” gets so wounded that they make a vow that no one will ever be allowed that near their heart again. No one will ever have the power to hurt them like their birth mom did. They then choose to keep everyone at a distance so the “PAIN” will never happen again. By then the abandonment, rejection and loneliness has wrapped it’s self around the infant’s emotions and heart and they create an emotional wall that is very thick. No one is allowed in.


I will continue on the subject of RAD in the next post I write. I hope you have a good week. Until then…





In reference to the last blog: Our first adopted child was struggling with the loss of her birth mother. My husband and I decided to make a box for her to place her birth mother’s picture, and a good-bye letter. We buried it on the edge of the woods on our property as a grasp at closure. We then held a little funeral ceremony for her to participate in so she felt connected to her birth mom to start the grieving process. She seemed pleased and sad which I felt was normal. Our hearts were all broken with her!!

Our daughter’s class at school (third grade) got her some flowers and a sympathy card for this intensely sad occasion. They seemed to really love our daughter even though she had a very hard time letting anybody close to her. She had a couple of friends but her relationships were superficial at best because of her inability to connect emotionally.


Fantasy can be a very deceptive practice. This is something we discovered in our relationships with both our adopted children. In this part of our story, I’m going to share how fantasy created resentment and bitterness and drove a wedge in our family relationships.

Our first adopted daughter did all the drama that any child would but as she grew she learned very quickly how to use self-pity to her own advantage. She learned to manipulating and pull the heart strings of anyone who would listen to her. She spent more and more of her time feeling sorry for herself because she felt cheated out of life.

Yes, she  deserved to have her birth mom and live in the country of her birth  What person deserves the ramifications of being adopted? Life dealt her a raw deal! But her fantasy (an unrealistic or improbable act of supposing) about how perfect a life she would have had was amazing. This unrealistic or improbable act of supposing gave her hours and hours of day-dreaming which turned into resentment and bitterness.

Her birth mom was very young, poor, and unable to support herself, let alone support a baby. Her birth mom made very immature decisions that got her into the mess she was living. As best we know, she loved her little one but gave her over to foster care so she could get her life in order. Instead, she entangled herself with a very cruel man that ended up abusing her and eventually gave her aids. Thus, the reason she put her daughter up for adoption.

Fantasy is a very fickle thing. It is intended to bring pleasure and delight but if it isn’t brought into check, it can devastate relationships and families. I believe it has destroyed many families that are desperately trying to provide a loving home for their adopted child. Both of our adopted children spent a great deal of time in the fantasy mode.

Now let’s not mix up thinking or deep thinking with fantasy. Just “thinking” is realistic and it is about true things. Our second adopted daughter got to the point that her fantasizing made her think that her birth mom was back in Thailand with her “seventeen” brother and sisters who were dying to see her. In reality, her birth mom was borderline retarded and she only had  one older sister. Even though we told our daughter the truth about her birth mom, her fantasy obsessions wouldn’t let her come to the truth.

Both our adopted daughters thought my husband and I stole them both from Thailand and their birth families. This is a prime example where fantasy is deceiving activity. It drove them to unrealistic beliefs. Then to not trusting my husband and I at all.


Please leave a comment and then join us back here next week. Blessings! Until then…