What Does Your Adopted Child Need Most from You?

Your Love is Not Their First Priority:



For those just finding this blog, I’m writing from a place of experience. Specifically, my husband and I adopted two girls from Thailand and it didn’t go so well. Both girls have Reactive Attachment Disorder (See RAD in previous posts) which was a decision the girls made at the point their birth mother gave them up. RAD is the results of a child deciding to reject anyone who tries to get close to them. This decision is made because they are protecting their heart from getting hurt again.

As a result of RAD, our oldest adopted daughter decided she didn’t want to be a family member and at eighteen went out on her own. Our youngest adopted daughter wanted to kill me and had to be removed from our home. I have spoken extensively on the subject of RAD in other posts. Please check it out.

My last post was about how the adopted child creates walls of emotional protection and how it effects every relationship they have. In addition – if we as parents have created our own walls – we need to go to God for help and surrender to His love, covering of protection and provision.


The first soul-need your adopted RAD child needs from you is not LOVE:

 When my husband and I took our two adopted RAD children for extensive therapy and counseling – the biggest revelation I received was that our daughters needed to know we were strong enough. Every other parental training I’ve encountered said love was the first priority. But because their pain and RAD has caused detachment – all of the love we were providing was not received. It couldn’t be absorbed by their hearts because it was hijacked by the defense mechanisms created by RAD.

The revelation of our girls needing to see our strength, not just our outpouring of love, caused us to understand the chaos which constantly ensued. A chaos that included verbal challenges, pushing proverbial buttons, confusion, drama, constant destructiveness and manipulation. All this was emitting from our RAD adopted children.

This chaos  was our daughters effort to constantly check to see if we were going to be “weak” like their birth mother was. Triggering anger, frustration and weariness are the ways that “weakness” is assessed by RAD children. If you pass the test, they decide if more tests are needed before they can let you in or close.


The Wearying Process:

 This is very wearying to the adoptive parent. What’s strange is  the adoptive child seeks to know if they can trust you and the way they seek this information is by using purposeful behavior that breaks your trust. They choose to lie, destroy possessions, behave narcissistically, steal, sneak, manipulate and create ultimate havoc. (There is a list of RAD symptoms in a previous post. Please have a look.)


What Does Being Strong Look Like?

  This is hard for two reasons:

 1) RAD can challenge an adoptive parent to the core (especially the adoptive mother) because most of the aggression from the adopted RAD child is aimed at the adoptive mother. Mainly to punish the adoptive mother for not being the birth mother and for trying to come close and love them when all the strength tests haven’t been passed.

In my situation, I was as strong as I knew how to be. I am not given to bursts of anger and my mom always told me I was the most patient child she ever knew. But I have to admit – this was the most challenging test I have ever encountered.

I was tested to my max but I needed to remain as calm and strong as possible. I did do this in my own self-effort for a long while and got to the place where I was trapped in a lose-lose situation. I was stuffing all my feelings and that is never ok. Plus my soul was weary from all the trying – only to fail again.

I had to find a safe place to vent, so I got relief from talking to trusted friends and to the Lord. Looking back, this process taught me to depend on the Lord’s strength to infill me because my self-effort ultimately didn’t work. Self-effort works in the short run but not the long. Relying on God instead of self-effort also lets God have His rightful place in the situation so His unquestionable strength can overcome the conflict.

Your friends will also glean from your situation (if they are led by the Holy Spirit) and will give helpful advice. Even if they don’t have advice – having a loving ear is always helpful to unload what you’re carrying.

 2) There is nothing wrong with getting respite time off from your strength demanding RAD children. If you don’t take care of yourself first, who is going to be there for your RAD child when you are so weary that you can’t go on? Find a dependable respite care giver.

This is an awesome way to practice finding the Sabbath rest God calls us to. Full dependency on Him is the only way to stay at peace. He is our strength if we allow Him to have His place in our lives by surrendering to His plans. He will use His strength to come through for your RAD child also.



  Sometimes it just helps to understand why a child acts the way they do. I hope this post was helpful. I pray you can find the rest and strength that you need. Go to the Lord for His help, He is there for you, as am I if you want to dialogue with me on this issue. Please leave a comment in the box below. I would love to help! Till next time…