Adoption and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

When Scott and Sharon Hawkins traveled to the Ukraine in October 2001, they were planning to adopt a little baby girl. Upon their arrival, they learned that the girl had already been placed and they then felt God leading them to adopt Bradley, a 15-month old baby that had been abandoned by his mother at the orphanage. After their older son Taylor was born, they were unable to have more children. They were excited about adopting a younger brother for Taylor and providing a better life for Bradley. They soon found out that they were not prepared for what was coming next.

Chaos and Upheaval

At age 3, Bradley was diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder (RAD), a condition in which a child doesn’t establish healthy attachments with parents or caregivers. RAD may develop if the child’s basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren’t met. Children with RAD thrive on chaos and upheaval. “Our family life was out of control,” Sharon recalls. “We couldn’t go out to eat, attend special church functions or do something as simple as visiting our friends. We couldn’t even go on vacation. Bradley would act out at these events and make it uncomfortable for everyone. Even at home, he would try to control and manipulate through misbehavior and turmoil. The more that we would show him affection, the more he would push us away. He was tearing our family apart!”

“Unless you live with a child with RAD, you have no idea what it’s like,” Scott relates. “Even our closest friends and family members would comment on our supposed lack of parenting skills. People can be very judgmental. We felt very alone!”

Their situation felt hopeless. They tried numerous therapies and various methods to get help. Nothing seemed to work. They didn’t know what else to do.

In our next post, we will look at how their journey at Fair Play Camp School gave them the tools they needed to help their son.