Michael was 5 1/2 when he came to us. His hazel eyes and cute round face with a light sprinkling of freckles was quick to charm those around him. At first we didn't see any real problems. We just saw a little boy who needed love and stability in his life. Mikey was quieter then the other two, and the first few months were uneventful. This was a blessing as Troy was in need of so much time and attention in the beginning.
However, as we attempted to be not only loving parents but the authorities in his life, we began to meet strong resistance. There was no convincing Mikey to be obedient. I remember him sitting in time out in the kitchen. He would sit there, but the whole time he would be saying quietly, "You're not my mom, you can't make me do it, I can do what I want," over and over. I would calmly explain to him that I couldn't start the timer until he was quiet. I would add a minute each time he said something. It often was an exhausting hour and a half ordeal, and then I only had a child compliant on the outside not the inside. We were in a continual battle of wills.
On top of this, Mikey had no "cause and effect" thinking. For example, he would climb ten feet up in the tree, and then he would just drop down without even thinking he might get hurt. I had to watch him carefully for fear that he would hurt himself or someone else.
Mikey began stealing things from others and lying. It was frustrating. Nothing we did seemed to make a difference. He just became more sneaky and better at it. He was smart, and it seemed all he learned was a better way to accomplish what he wanted the next time.
Then we also had some bathroom issues. I would find dirty toilet paper strung all around the bathroom. Trashcans would have pee in them. The closet even started stinking, and I discovered he'd been pottying in there. The bathtub often had the remnants of urine in the bottom of it. From our foster care classes, I knew that this could be signs of emotional distress, so I did my best to be calm and just matter of factly have him clean it up.
I began researching more, and found that Michael had been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder before he came to our home. RAD is extremely difficult. It occurs when children fail to bond with their parents or caretakers. Now that we knew what was going on, with God's help we were finally able to begin dealing with the deep seated problems in Mikey's life.