Monday, February 8, 2016

To Those Who Love The "Unlovable"

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
~ James 1:12, NIV ~

HOPE.  There's not a person on this earth who doesn't need it.

Yet, of all the parents we serve raising kids with special needs, perhaps the ones most desperately in need of an extra dose of that HOPE are the ones raising children with RAD or Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Most commonly seen in kids who were adopted or abused, this mental health issue takes such a heavy toll on the parents and caregivers who love a child through this.

It may be the relentless gray of post-Christmas winter, but this season has proven to be particularly challenging for our moms and dads.  Most recently, I have found myself in constant prayer for those who have endured the following from their beautiful children of various ages with RAD:

  • Acting out
  • Lying
  • Destroying property
  • Stealing
  • Physical abuse of caregivers
  • Disgusting, inappropriate language
  • Manipulation of others to achieve selfish gain
  • Undermining friendships with behavior and words
If you are one of these parents, I have a message for you:  I see you, and I know it is NOT your fault.  I know how you dreamed of parenting this child, and I see how this breaks your heart.  I also see your frustration and need for a break.  You are carrying a heavy, exhausting load that God never meant for you to manage on your own.  I know that you carry so much unspoken fear about your child's future.  I know that you have dealt with the police, the schools, the psychiatrists, and psychologists more than you would ever care to admit.  I know that you may have had your child inpatient at a mental health facility, or a youth detention center, or at a boot camp program, or a therapeutic boarding school.  I know that you have heard too many times, "We don't know to do next," for your son or daughter.  This can suck the energy and hope right out of you.

There are those of us here who have your back.  We love you unconditionally.  We are here to comfort you when things aren't going well.  We know RAD is a liar.  It tells your child that they are not safe with you and that they will be abandoned once again.  It tells them that they will be brutally punished, or not get enough food, or not have their needs met.  We know it tells you that you are a bad parent and it pushes you to the very brink, often making you want to give up.  IT.IS.A.LIAR!  

There is good news for you and your extra-grace-required child today.  The first dose of good news is that there is treatment and things can get better for you and your child.  But it takes years of persistence!  We are here for you as you persist.  We will love you, and scream with you, and hang out with you, and support you all the way to the finish line.  We will lift you up on your low days, relentlessly pray for you, and just be there with a knowing hug.

Even if things never improve, there is still BETTER Good News.  There is One who can and does redeem all of this pain, no matter the outcome.  He takes the sorrow, and the abuse, and the broken dreams, and the absolutely ugly situations, and He uses them for our good and His glory.  We may struggle to make sense of how any good can come out of this trauma, but He knows what He is doing.  Now, I'm not trying to be trite or to make it sound as if I think this is easy.  It isn't.  This kind of love is absolutely NOT easy.  Yet, He sees you loving that "unlovable" creature whom He created in His image, and He says, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  When you pour every molecule of your love into that difficult kid with RAD, it is as if you are pouring yourself out for Christ Himself.  You may not feel the good or see the good in this lifetime.  In fact, everything around you may tell you that there is no hope.  Remember that His HOPE goes beyond any hope this world can see or provide.

Hang tough, loving caregiver.  God is with you and so are we.

PRAY:  Lord, we know that there is nothing too difficult for You.  Pour Your healing, loving balm over the hearts and minds of these precious kids who have RAD and their caregivers.  Be their security when they have known so much chaos and instability in their lives.  Encourage them and help them to persist on the darkest days.  Nudge and remind those of us around them to step up and support them for the long haul.  And even if healing never comes, Lord, boundlessly fill us with the joy of knowing that our HOPE rests in You alone.  Thank You for the gift of one another through these most difficult things in life.

~ Barb Dittrich

* For more information and resources on Reactive Attachment Disorder, please visit our various Pinterest Boards entitled Adoption and Special Needs, Behavior Challenges, and Trauma.


  1. I love you, Barb, and your message here...I have friends who need to cling to this message, so I'm grateful for your heart to put it out there...<3

    1. You are so kind, Tammie. I hurt for our fellow parents who press through this heartbreak daily.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you for recognizing the hard work and sacrifice of parents raising kids with RAD and for adding it to the Dream Team Tuesday special needs link up.