exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Do the terms RAD and Attachment Disorder mean anything to you?


With so much time and attention given to adoption-studies and the new-age labeling of RAD given to adopted children, I think it's only natural for adult adoptees to seek new information relating to a disorder that focuses on an adoptee's ability/difficulty achieving fulfillment and security through close personal  relationships.

Every "updated" RAD page I read refers to the same information:

The prevalence of RAD is unclear but it is probably quite rare, other than in populations of children being reared in the most extreme, deprived settings such as some orphanages.[53]

Attachment disorders tend to occur in a definable set of contexts such as within some types of institutions, in the presence of repeated changes of primary caregiver or of extremely neglectful identifiable primary caregivers who show persistent disregard for the child's basic attachment needs, but not all children raised in these conditions develop an attachment disorder.[57] Studies undertaken on children from Eastern European orphanages from the mid-1990s showed significantly higher levels of both forms of RAD and of insecure patterns of attachment in the institutionalized children, regardless of how long they had been there.[58][59][60] It would appear that children in institutions like these are unable to form selective attachments to their caregivers. The difference between the institutionalized children and the control group had lessened in the follow-up study three years later, although the institutionalized children continued to show significantly higher levels of indiscriminate friendliness.[58][61] However, even among children raised in the most deprived institutional conditions the majority did not show symptoms of this disorder.[62]


Again, orphanages are "the cause", and yet no where is abuse after child-placement mentioned in any of the studies "focused on a child's emotional needs".  What does this all mean for the child who got damaged by abusive adoptive/foster parents?

[I am the first to admit I have very severe reactions to those who try to get "too close" to me.  I am predictable only in the sense that I'm unpredictable.]

Since no in-depth study on the abused adoptee has been done, I'm curious to learn how adults from abusive foster/adoption situations relate to the following list of attachment-styles outlined in wikipedia's Attachment for Adults page, which is based on Bowlby's theories and models:

Secure attachment

Securely attached people tend to agree with the following statements: "It is relatively easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on others and having others depend on me. I don't worry about being alone or having others not accept me." This style of attachment usually results from a history of warm and responsive interactions with relationship partners. Securely attached people tend to have positive views of themselves and their partners. They also tend to have positive views of their relationships. Often they report greater satisfaction and adjustment in their relationships than people with other attachment styles. Securely attached people feel comfortable both with intimacy and with independence. Many seek to balance intimacy and independence in their relationships.

Anxious-preoccupied attachment

People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to agree with the following statements: "I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don't value me as much as I value them." People with this style of attachment seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from their partners. They sometimes value intimacy to such an extent that they become overly dependent on their partners—a condition colloquially termed clinginess. Compared to securely attached people, people who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to have less positive views about themselves. They often doubt their worth as a partner and blame themselves for their partners' lack of responsiveness. They also have less positive views about their partners because they do not trust in people's good intentions. People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment may experience high levels of emotional expressiveness, worry, and impulsiveness in their relationships.

Dismissive-avoidant attachment

People with a dismissive style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with these statements: "I am comfortable without close emotional relationships. It is very important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient, and I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me." People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence. The desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether. They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to feelings associated with being closely attached to others. They often deny needing close relationships. Some may even view close relationships as relatively unimportant. Not surprisingly, they seek less intimacy with relationship partners, whom they often view less positively than they view themselves. Investigators commonly note the defensive character of this attachment style. People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment tend to suppress and hide their feelings, and they tend to deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection (i.e., their relationship partners).

Fearful-avoidant attachment

People with a fearful style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with the following statements: "I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others." People with this attachment style have mixed feelings about close relationships. On the one hand, they desire to have emotionally close relationships. On the other hand, they tend to feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness. These mixed feelings are combined with negative views about themselves and their partners. They commonly view themselves as unworthy of responsiveness from their partners, and they don't trust the intentions of their partners. Similarly to the dismissive-avoidant attachment style, people with a fearful-avoidant attachment style seek less intimacy from partners and frequently suppress and hide their feelings.

In addition, how many relate to the following symptoms outlined for the child with RAD?

Inhibited type
In inhibited reactive attachment disorder, children shun relationships and attachments to virtually everyone. This may happen when a baby never has the chance to develop an attachment to any caregiver.

Signs and symptoms of the inhibited type may include:

  • Resisting affection from parents or caregivers
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Appearing to seek contact but then turning away
  • Difficulty being comforted
  • Preferring to play alone
  • Avoiding physical contact
  • Failing to initiate contact with others
  • Appearing to be on guard or wary
  • Engaging in self-soothing behavior

Disinhibited type
In disinhibited reactive attachment disorder, children form inappropriate and shallow attachments to virtually everyone, including strangers. This may happen when a baby has multiple caregivers or frequent changes in caregivers.

Signs and symptoms of the disinhibited type may include:

  • Readily going to strangers, rather than showing stranger anxiety
  • Seeking comfort from strangers
  • Exaggerating needs for help doing tasks
  • Inappropriately childish behavior
  • Appearing anxious


by Kerry on Friday, 01 August 2008