Adoption RAD and Their Aggressive and/or Passive Aggressive Behavior

Adoption RAD and Their Aggressive and/or Passive Aggressive Behavior:


Hi all. I’m Laurie and I want to help all the families out there who are faced with foster, adoption and RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) issues. It is a lonely path because most of society doesn’t understand. Please check out my other posts. Most of them have to do with adoption and RAD issues.

My last post was on adoption support groups. Please check it out. It has helpful suggestions on joining or starting adoption support groups.

Today I am going to talk about RAD aggressive and passive aggressive behaviors. Passive-aggressive behaviors can develop into a disorder called passive-aggressive disorder (diagnosed by a doctor). All are challenging. I want to explain the first two – in order to bring intentional clarity. RAD adopted children sometimes use one, the other or both to punish anyone who tries to get close to them.


Definitions: (The definitions are taken from my dictionary phone app.)

1)  Aggression – Hostile or destructive behavior or attitudes: physical aggression; verbal aggression; emotional aggression.

2)  Passive aggressive behavior – Behavior that expresses aggression in an indirect, passive way. This includes procrastination, hostile jokes (though jokes in general are recognized as a method of veiled hostility), stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible. Person who refuses to acknowledge their own aggression, and who manages that denial by projecting it. This type of person insists on seeing themselves as the blameless victim in all situations.

3)  Passive-aggressive disorder – a “pervasive pattern of negative attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situation.”



         RAD is heart wrenching to the adoptive family. Aggression isn’t on all the symptom lists having to do with RAD but it is on some. My husband and I had an up front and personal experience with this symptom of aggression in our youngest adopted RAD daughter.

She needed to exert herself in many situations and if you have read many of my posts I have explained she needed to be removed from our home because of her aggression. She admittedly said she was ready to kill me. We were concerned we would wake up at night with her standing over me with a knife.

She damaged many things in our house including taking scissors to our couch. One of the regular symptoms on the RAD symptom list is being destructive to themselves, others and things. She was especially destructive to the things I said I loved or thought were beautiful. (She displayed Passive Aggressive behaviors also).

You may not have had the same issues as we have but if this is sounding familiar – you might want to find a therapist for your child. Go to a therapist who knows about RAD because most doctors have not heard of it. The ones who haven’t tend to put all the blame on the adoptive parents even though RAD develops way before the adoptive parents are even on the scene.


Passive Aggressive Behavior:

Our other adopted daughter has RAD also but her symptoms manifest as passive aggressive behaviors. She purposely ignores and gives the silent treatment – sometimes for days. We were invisible to her and she would without conscience go on her merry way – living as her own “island.”

She would be sullen, procrastinate, stubborn, silent, and definitely a blameless victim in every situation. She would give me her trash can with the latest gift I gave her sitting on the top of her trash. She thought she didn’t need anyone in her life because she could be all in all to herself and meet her needs.

Again, if you’re recognizing similar issues in your adopted child get them to a therapist who understands RAD, aggressive and passive aggressiveness. The sooner the better. These symptoms will not just go away.



         I hope this post was helpful and brought clarity to the difference between aggressive and passive aggressive behavior. Both need the help of a therapist and are self-destructive in so many ways. Help your child break their cycle of aggression.

Please leave a comment in the box below. I would love to hear from you. Until next week…

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Adoption RAD and Hope Deferred | Abba Father's Love
  2. Trackback: Adoptive Mothers Receive Protection – Part One | Abba Father's Love
  3. Trackback: Adoptive Mothers Receive Protection – Part Two | Abba Father's Love

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