Our son needs help

Health Editor Barry Nelson talks to a family who are finding that there is a lack of support for their adopted son who they say suffers from behavioural problems.

By Barry Nelson

June 25, 2009 / The Northern Echo

WHEN Peter and Jane were told it was highly unlikely that they could have children, there was one obvious solution. Peter had been adopted as a small child and had had such a positive experience that he felt adoption was a great institution.

“I had a very good experience and it seemed the right thing to do. I wanted to give kids the kind of life I was given,” says the self-employed Darlington businessman.

So, in 1995, the couple formally applied to their local authority to be accepted as potential adoptive parents.

Because they both smoked and had both lost one parent, the authority turned them down, partly on the grounds of smoking and partly because they had a “poor support network”.

Determined to adopt, the couple waited four years and applied again.

This time they cleared the various hurdles and were allowed to adopt a boy, aged 22 months, and his half-sister, aged nine months.

At the time the couple were told that both children had had a difficult start in life and had been neglected by their natural parents, who also had severe mental health problems.

Incredibly, within a year of adopting the two children the couple found out they were going to have a baby.

A baby girl was subsequently born and the couple now had a family of three to raise.

It was during the toddler and early-school stages that both adopted children started to demonstrate developmental and behavioural problems.

In junior school, the boy became increasingly violent towards other children, teachers and his adoptive father.

The local education authority was called in and agreed to place the boy in a unit for children with behavioural problems. Unfortunately, the unit closed after only six months.

Back at home, his behaviour became more violent and manipulative and he was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) of Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust.

CAMHS told the parents that the boy had an “attachment disorder” and asked them to attend what were called super-parenting classes.

The boy was sent back to mainstream school but his behaviour got worse, holding a teacher hostage with scissors.

In April last year, the boy was sent to a school for children with behavioural problems. In January, his problems escalated.

“He regularly trashed his room and was subject to violent outbursts,” his father says.

“I have a heart condition and he would goad me into angina attacks then laugh. He was also very violent with other children. We were at our wits’ end.”

At this stage Peter and Jane pleaded for help to keep the family together.

Their local GP referred the matter to Darlington Social Services and the boy’s school also referred the matter to social services, but the couple waited until February 21 before a social worker visited.

Peter said: “We suffered a month of continuous violence and we asked social services for urgent help.”

Only a few days later, the boy tried to sexually assault his sister then tried to stab his father with a kitchen knife. The boy was taken into emergency foster care, but then allowed home.

In a 90-day period between early January and the end of April, Peter calculates that his adoptive son made “three serious attempts” to stab him, as well as setting traps for his sisters with broken glass and by altering the thermostat on the shower to scald them.

APART from offering parenting advice, Peter claims that social services have done very little to support them.

After research into attachment disorders, the couple are convinced that their son is suffering from a condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder, or Rad.

Commonly found in fostered and adopted children, Rad occurs when a child is not properly nurtured in the first few months and years of life.

The child, left to cry in hunger, pain or need for cuddling, learns that adults will not help them. The Rad child develops habits of dealing with the world in a way he or she believes will keep them safe.

Some therapists argue that without treatment, Rad children never develop the attachments to other human beings which teach them to trust, accept discipline and take responsibility for their own actions.

“When we read about this it was like seeing lights coming on. We realised this was our lad they were talking about,” Peter said.

The couple discovered that a centre offering residential treatment for Rad is just across the Pennines in Rawtenstall, Lancashire.

While the company that runs the centre does not guarantee success, it claims that virtually every child is better adjusted and better able to cope with life at the end of the course.

But so far their attempts to persuade Darlington Social Services, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust or their GP to refer their son to the, admittedly expensive, Keys Attachment Centre have fallen on deaf ears.

“A place at this centre offers hope of a cure, but a local authority referral is required. Yes, it is very expensive, but not half as expensive as keeping him in secure accommodation or a prison for the rest of his life.”

Peter says unless his son – who is 11 next week –is treated for Rad he will undoubtedly end up taking somebody’s life.

The couple have even offered to pay the £700 needed to cover the cost of an assessment at the Keys centre to see whether he is suitable for treatment – but so far their offers have been turned down.

“They won’t even let us spend our own money,” Peter said.

“We have had him for most of his life, he is our lad, we love him and we want him back but that is only going to happen if he gets the treatment he needs.

“He needs this therapy”.

? Peter and Jane are not their real names.

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Related Article:   Help us - before our son, 10, kills

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Developmental Stages

The more I read, the more I question the RAD label as being a singular diagnosis/medical entity -- especially when so many claim there is no known cure.  But for the sake of discussion, let's say a history of parental mental-health problems + trauma = RAD  What sort of warnings are PAP's given by doctors when another child (newborn, especially) is brought into the family-situation?   In other words, how prepared and well-informed are AP's when they decide it's time to add "one more"?

I know from my own personal experience, when I became pregnant with my second child, I was scared.  No, I was terrified... for a variety of reasons.   I immediately took it upon myself to read and ask questions about sibling rivalry and how parenting changes once a new child enters the home. I wanted to be prepared because I did not want to fail.  I recall my pediatrician telling me, "Having a second child isn't twice the work, it's 100 times the work." , and I recall being relived she said that, because I was beginning to think it was just me being a moron with a pure lack of maternal love and skill.

With each child added to my family, I did experience hard jealous-times with the older ones.  Lots of resentment, lots of violent outbursts... lots of tears from everyone, (except hub-man because he was not home all day, enjoying the blessing of many at one time.)  But we got through it because as the mom, I felt as though it was my job to see life not just through my eyes, but through the the eyes of my children, as well.

I can only imagine how much worse life would have been those early years had any one of my children been removed from me before they were emotionally ready to be far away from mommy.  [Separation Anxiety + Sibling Rivalry (jealousy) = ?!? ]

With my understanding of the demands parenting and newborn care is really like, especially when the number of children exceed the number of available parents/adults, I read the following:

Determined to adopt, the couple waited four years and applied again.

This time they cleared the various hurdles and were allowed to adopt a boy, aged 22 months, and his half-sister, aged nine months.

At the time the couple were told that both children had had a difficult start in life and had been neglected by their natural parents, who also had severe mental health problems.

Incredibly, within a year of adopting the two children the couple found out they were going to have a baby.

A baby girl was subsequently born and the couple now had a family of three to raise.

It was during the toddler and early-school stages that both adopted children started to demonstrate developmental and behavioural problems.

In junior school, the boy became increasingly violent towards other children, teachers and his adoptive father.

I don't mean to minimize the fear people like the parents in the above article are experiencing, but could any/all of this been prevented - or at least greatly reduced - had they only adopted the siblings with special needs - and then limit the family-size to just "four"?

 

Wow, he sounds alot like I

Wow, he sounds alot like I was, except I was 9. Of course they slap a disorder on it. I was like that cause I was stolen from my home not cause there was something wrong with my brain. And all my captors were my enemy< I wonder if that is how he feels?. Most people who are kid napped will fight back if given the chance. Of course no one in the child "protection" industry will admit that. But I attacked my foster parents and adoptive parents too. Holding me prisoner like that they are lucky they got to wake up in the morning. henceforth I was moved around alot...

I guess I must have had that disorder too.

:)

Man these people will point the finger at anyone but them selves won't they?

Just like true psychopaths......

from an adoptive mom...

IMO those adoptive parents went into adoption blinded by a desire to have children at any risk.  They were TOLD up front those two children had a "rough start."  RED FLAG!
There should have been in-depth counseling and training before those two children were placed with them; there was no preparation for their placement, nor was there any training on the possible outcome of children at risk because of neglect and separation.
I'm not pushing the RAD label.  I hate labels.  I just think people should be made a ware of what COULD happen because it HAS happened.
Bizzi:  Did you feel abandonment or was it all about having no control over what happened in your life; people forcing you to do whatever THEY thought was best?  Did ANYONE ever listen to you?

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

"Did you feel abandonment or

"Did you feel abandonment or was it all about having no control over what happened in your life; people forcing you to do whatever THEY thought was best?  Did ANYONE ever listen to you?"

Nope I was not abandoned. I was only to be in care for a temp 3 month period. After the 3 months was up my family came back for me... and they told them i was not coming back... and the rest of the kids were going to be put in care as well. So my family fled... I knew my sister while I was in care and was in contact with her.. and my extended family even thou I was not supposed to be. My government kidnapped me and unlawfully confined me and made me their prisoner and forced me to live with pedophiles and complete and utter wack jobs.. I was 9.... I knew exactly what was going on. In care people don't "talk" to you.... they lie to you and talk down to you...and belittle you. (Since they are after all better then me for "Rescuing me" from a normal life.) If anyone tried to hold me against my will today I would respond no differently then when I was a child... except I am not small and defenseless and it would not be me getting hurt this time around. Spent half my life being "restrained" by 3-5 men 5 times my size.... It was good training... and proved to be an issue for authorities as I hit my teen years...and was a complete psychopath to boot.

Just ask the police how many times they had to pepper spray and taser me (As a kid) I lost count about the tenth time. Such big bad police officers... lmao.

I'm hearing you say that

I'm hearing you say that your real family was NOT the blame for your being kidnapped...  That what your family was and did was "normal" for you... which is true for every child.  Not every family is the same, but what they are and do is RIGHT for them.  I'm not talking about abuse, just the differences in families.   I admire you for being so outspoken and I believe you when you tell of your life and how "they" took your life away from you.  I believe all you were trying to do was get back to your family and life as you knew it.  I have seen this happen and I know what you say is true.
I wish I could fight like you do.  I hope your efforts are well rewarded some day. 

What did I ever do to deserve this... Teddy

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