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).





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’.

About the pictures

Inside a Russian baby home

Inside a Russian baby home

Unless you have been to an international orphanage you can’t really understand them. I kind of figure it is like how tornado survivors say you just can’t imagine the destruction unless you see it first hand. With that being said, I have been to quite a few Russian baby homes and orphanages. That is my only experience. Orphanages, like everything else, range from awful to great, depending on the workers, the sponsorship and the region in which they are located.

I’ll be sharing pictures I took while in Russia as well as others’ pictures in an effort to build awareness and understanding. I’ve heard that other orphanages around the world are similar to the ones I’ve seen.

I know that orphanage life does not apply to those whose children were adopted from the US, but a little awareness never hurt anyone, right?