One of the hardest struggles I faced was with Michael. He was so cute and charming with everyone else that it was hard for me to feel like I could reach out for help with what we dealt with at home. I worried that if I shared, others would say things like, "That's how it is with adoption. You just can't love another person's child like your own." And to be honest, I had begun to doubt my ability to truly love this little boy. I was scared that they would be speaking truth.
Understanding Reactive Attachment Disorder became critical for our relationship to improve. Children with RAD fail to make proper attachments for one reason or another. For Mikey I think it was the perceived rejection by those closest to him that caused him to resist our love. He had dealt with losing his biological parents. Then he was in five foster homes before he came to us. He had been told he was loved, and yet all of the sudden these people were no longer a part of his life. Though even he didn't understand his actions, he was protecting himself from being hurt yet again by someone close to him. If he didn't let us in his heart, we couldn't hurt him. Yet he desperately needed love and affection. So to fill the void he hugged and loved on everyone but us. He would go to perfect strangers for hugs and attention. It was hard for me to stand by and watch this knowing that at home I would be fought against.
I found that even as an adult, I could handle rejection from a child only so many times. I began to put up a barrier to protect myself from the words and the battles. This barrier did keep me from loving fully because I too was scared. We were both scared. Mikey was scared that yet another adult in his life would be taken away. I was scared of the unknown, my inabilities, and ultimately rejection by a child. Knowledge of RAD helped me to see that it wasn't me he was rejecting.
To cope with our situation I had to come face to face with the reality of what Jesus did for me. My Savior loved me when I was unlovable. Jesus stood by even when I rejected Him. Each time I tried to do things on my own seeking the approval of man rather then God, I was hurting Him. I never understood that before. God wanted me to go to him for love and approval but I spent my time looking to others. As parents, my husband and I wanted Mikey to come to us for his needs, and it hurt when he didn't. But just as time has taught me to look to Jesus for love and security, time is teaching Mikey that it is safe to come to us. Understanding God's love more fully also enabled me to take down barriers and open my heart to love Mikey in the way I should.