You Must Read This Book

Building the Bonds of Attachment

Building the Bonds of Attachment

I know I say that a lot about books, because I’m reading so many helpful books, but, seriously, this time you MUST read this book if you deal with a kid with RAD! Building the Bonds of Attachment, by Daniel Hughes,  is an easy read, with down-to-Earth language and lots of explanations.

The author created a child (Katie) as a case study of a typical RAD scenario. The story follows Katie from birth through 8 years of age. She was born into a physically abusive and emotionally neglectful family which planted the seeds of RAD. She was removed at age 5 and went through three foster homes before her case worker found a foster family and therapist experienced in RAD who agreed to take her on.

Most of the book focuses on Katie’s time at her final foster home. Included is also many therapy sessions and daily  journal logs of her foster mother.

I really enjoyed this book for many reasons.

First of all, Katie reminds me so much of Ana in some places it is downright scary. Not all the time, mind you, but I think the author created Katie to embody the worst of all RAD kids. This was extremely helpful because the strategies Jackie, the foster mom, used are definitely worth trying for our situation.

Second, strategies were given. Real life situations were described with a variety of strategies offered, some working some not. This is helpful. Too many books work in the theoretical world which really doesn’t apply to RAD kids.

Third, the book laid a sort-of map of where we’ve been and where we (hopefully) are going. This makes me feel not so alone and not so bad as a parent. It reinforced my gut instincts that specialists usually refuse to acknowledge, but challenged me to consider different points of view and new ways of thinking.

All in all, Building the Bonds of Attachment is an excellent read. Might I even say it is one of the holy works of RAD therapy. I hope no one ever has a child quite as severe as Katie, but if they do, this book is a great navigational tool for surviving the long and painful road towards ‘normal’.


The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog

This book by legendary RAD expert, Dr. Bruce Perry, is a must-read for any parent dealing with a child with attachment issues. Perry manages to explain complex neurological systems and disorders while captivating the reader through an excellent narrative comprised of stories of former patients.

The book is organized by chapters studying one or two of Perry’s previous patients with detailed, yet simple to understand, explanations of how they came to be unattached. Each chapter is a miniature story in and of itself. Although upon casual observation the book may appear to be arranged in a haphazard fashion, it is anything but! Each chapter’s case study and accompanying lesson in human development, cognition, and attachment behavior is carefully crafted to build on previous chapters’ information.

The cases discussed in the book include the infamous Waco, Texas, cult survivors, a foster child who never bonded, an internationally adopted child, and a full blown psychopath. Each child mentioned suffered unnecessarily and Perry treats them with respect and dignity, even on the pages of a book far removed from the actual children. The stories that spoke the most to me were about a boy discovered at six years of age, having spent the previous five years in a dog crate, treated as a dog, and a little boy cribbed in a Russian orphanage for three years before being adopted. Both these stories resonated with me because of the children’s similarities to Ana.

I will most definitely be exploring the strategies Dr. Perry and his team used with these children! Also, I feel more confident in my understanding of reactive attachment disorder and the subtle tells that Ana reveals daily. I look forward to reading more of Dr. Perry’s work.

Although it may be tempting to jump around the book, the best method to gain the most from The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog is to read it introduction through appendix (with a good glass of wine snuggled up on the couch).

Beyond the Sling

Beyond the Sling

Beyond the Sling

A lot of people would think I’m crazy for recommending a book that devotes about a third of its pages to the benefits of breastfeeding to adoptive parents, but I stand by my recommendation.  Beyond the Sling, by Mayim Bialik (a.k.a. Blossom), is a must read for any parent wanting to nurture a healthy and positive relationship with their child using attachment as the main facilitator. Bialik’s conversational tone balances well with the onslaught of factual proof that attachment parenting is the biologically best way for parents to form deep attachments with children.

The book is divided into sections covering the main tenets of Attachment Parenting (AP): birth, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, kids and their stuff, and discipline. Alongside those topics she also shares her story of ways she dealt with the changes that parenting brought into her life as well as ways she has kept her sanity through the years.

Although adoptive parents probably won’t relate with the childbirth and breastfeeding chapters (and for some it may bring up painful feelings of loss) the book, in its entirety, is well worth the read. All too often I have found that when facing obstacles my adopted children throw at me I lose sight of the forest for the trees. This book does a great job reminding me how parenting and attachment should look. The fact that my children were not fortunate enough to be brought into this world in an attachment-friendly environment is not their fault.  It is entirely my responsibility to find a way for me and my adopted children to jump on board the attachment train even if we missed part of the ride.

My favorite part of the book were the chapters on disciplining and stuff.  With so many therapists and experts in our lives, giving us tons of conflicting, well-meaning advice on effective discipline, it is easy for me to forget the famous acronym, KISS (keep it simple, stupid!), which totally applies to parenting. Bialik not only shares the beliefs behind gentle discipline, but she explains the science, too. Kids do not need lots of ‘stuff’ to be happy, attached children. Most people agree to this about toys, but when you start talking sensory toys, OT toys, PT toys, etc., suddenly this common knowledge flies out the window.

Oddly enough I practice AP with my bio kids but never thought it really applied to my adopted kids since I didn’t begin their life journey with them. This book was the kick in the face I needed to make me realize I’ve had the correct tools and knowledge all along; I just wasn’t using them.




This documentary rocks, albeit in a depressing not-feel-good kind of way. I say it rocks because it tells the absolute truth about all the flaws in the international adoption world. Not only does it shed light on the ridiculous hoops adoptive parents must jump through, it also shows exactly how children waiting to be adopted around the globe are suffering every single day.

By following four adopting families through their trials and tribulations the film catches the highs and lows associated with international adoption, and adoption in general. Rather than just focus on these American families, the film digs deeper and jumps across oceans to go inside orphanages and show in painful detail how these waiting children are living in poverty while they wait for their prospective nations to play nice with the U.S. and comply with often ridiculous UN rules.

Not all the stories have happy endings.  Not all the happy endings are truly happy. The story that moved me the most was about a little girl being adopted from Ethiopia. The film was able to interview the birth mother and asked why she was giving up her child. The answer was heart breaking. When the child’s father died, his family took back all of their marital property (as they were allowed by Ethiopian law) and threw mom and child out on the street. The mother, unable to even feed her three year old daughter, decided the child’s chances were better in an orphanage.  The little girl went on to be adopted by a single mom from the U.S.

I know not everyone dealing with an adopted child with RAD adopted internationally, but this film is still a great resource for understanding how RAD happens. Probably a third of the film is devoted to attachment issues. It shares the history of attachment studies, beginning in Romanian orphanages, and explains how poorly attached children fail to thrive and their prognosis for the rest of their lives.

Having experienced international adoption twice in my life I resisted the urge to yell out, “Amen!” many times during the film. While I understand the need for regulations and standards so many of the obstacles facing prospective adoptive parents are needless, illogical and declared by people out of touch with ‘real’ families and real children in desperate need of adoption. “Stuck” respectfully challenges these laws and lawmakers while laying the case for why international adoption needs to be streamlined – really streamlined.

Regardless of whether one has adopted internationally or domestically, there is a great wealth of knowledge about attachment and living in poverty and/or neglectful environments that can empower parents of children with RAD. I give it four out of five ‘safe hands’.