For Families > Disorders and Treatments > A-Z Disorder Guide > Reactive Attachment Disorder > Real Life Stories

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): Real Life Stories

Real Life Stories

Serge, 17 months old, has been in an orphanage for 10 months. The first 7 months of his life were spent in a cardboard box under his parents' bed. Both parents were alcoholic and showed little interest in their son. Serge was seldom attended to or even moved to another spot. When a neighbor called the authorities Serge was removed from his parents' home and placed in an orphanage. Although he made progress physically, he clung desperately to his caretakers or any adult, made fleeting eye contact and showed little interest in toys or the other children.

Carlo, 3, is the younger of two brothers. They were removed from their parents' home when Carlo was 1 and his older brother Freddy was found looking for food in the street wearing only his underwear. Both Carlo's mother and father were involved in drug use and drug sales and had spent time in jail. During these times the children lived with shifting sets of relatives and friends. Carlo either cried inconsolably or withdrew into a corner and rocked back and forth. When the brothers were adopted together, Carlo made slow but steady progress. Although at three he is still cautious and hesitant in his relationships, he is gradually learning to trust his foster parents.

Alice, 4, was adopted when she was 1 1/2 through an agency placement. Little was known about Alice's biological parents; in her short life she had lived with three sets of foster parents. At the time of her adoption she was physically underdeveloped, showed only momentary interest in toys or people, and evidenced symptoms similar to those manifested by a child with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Of equal concern to the team evaluating Alice before her adoption was her inability to differentiate among people and her willingness to climb on to the lap of any adult. She did not show signs of missing her principal caregiver who was reassigned. After Alice and her adoptive family received family counseling she made considerable progress; by the age of 4 she was physically sturdy, well adjusted in school and her relationships with her parents and sibling were developmentally appropriate.