When to Hold and When to Fold

Part 2

by Dr. Nancy Spoolstra

It has been over a year since I first wrote about my family. (R & W, Fall 1996) Many people from all over the United States have called or written me to express their thoughts about my story. With the exception of one letter, the overwhelming response was appreciation that I validated what apparently many other people are feeling.

In that year's time, much has happened in my family, both for me personally and for the family as a whole. Our ongoing struggle with the aftermath of Attachment Disorder has enabled me to recognize and respond to similar pain in the lives of others facing the challenge of parenting these most difficult children. I am now on the Board of Directors of National ATTACh, and I have started the first Regional Chapter in Kansas City. Although my family is reasonably mentally and physically healthy at this point, it has certainly been a most difficult year.......

My husband and I had already added three international adoptees to our family before we completely understood the ramifications of our choices. Our birth children were 5 and 3 at the time Anchulee arrived from Thailand in 1989 at the age of 21 months. Tony joined us in 1993 as a 9 year old, having spent 8 of his first 9 years in an orphanage in Ecuador. Cindy was our last placement, arriving at the end of 1994. Sadly, she spent only 6 months with our family before her adoption disrupted in May of 1995. It was during the time that all three children were in the family and seriously disrupting our lives that we finally gained a realistic perspective of the monster we were up against---Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Although I had several friends who did their best to prepare me for the unprecedented challenge of parenting special-needs children, apparently I was not a receiver to the messages being directed my way. In fact, it wasn't until one of those same friends proofed my first copy of this article that I even realized what a poor receiver I must have been! I certainly was more "connected" to some knowledgeable people than many pre-adoptive parents. I have extensive education myself and I am a firm believer in researching and preparing before making significant decisions. In a recent conversation with my friend, she challenged me on the fact that she had tried to prepare me even before Tony joined the family! So why didn't I grasp the concept of attachment disorder at that time?

My husband's first response to that question reflected our general naiveté at that time. Since we had asked only ONE thing of the placing agency, we felt confident that our one criteria would be met. All we wanted, we told them, was a child with a good attitude. We didn't care if he was cute or not-so-cute, smart or not-so-smart; we just wanted him to say "yes" and cooperate once in awhile. We believed we were getting a child that met those requirements. What did we know of RAD? I am not sure what we thought we were getting with Cindy. It is my friend's belief that my husband and I suffered under the same misconceptions as many other adoptive parents. We were convinced that OUR love and OUR commitment and OUR parenting skills could fix many of the potential problems. We were wrong.

After Cindy's departure we attempted to rebuild the fabric of our family. Some of us were still reeling from the visits with Social Services, the false accusations, the tension and lies. Tony and Anchulee were on the brink of a predictable summer decline. By August, I could not tolerate being around Tony at all, and ultimately he went to Colorado for his first 90 day placement. At that time he was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, severe birth mother issues, and possibly depression. He rejoined us around Thanksgiving, but by March of 1996 he was again headed for residential placement. This time we expected him to live away from home indefinitely. A weeklong visit with Tony in June ended abruptly when Tony stole his brother's money. We resigned ourselves to "parenting from afar".

Although Anchulee had the best few months of her life in the Spring of 1996, she rapidly deteriorated that summer. By August, she preferred to remain in her room wearing the same underwear for a week at a time and not brushing her teeth rather than comply with the most basic of requests or requirements. Tony was gone, presumably not to return, and Anchulee behaved as if almost 7 years of love and investment were but a feather in the wind. Although I had learned to protect my emotions to a large extent, Anchulee's delightful and real demeanor that past spring had caused my wall to crumble a bit. Her rapid descent in July and August caught me totally off guard, and I was poorly prepared. She realized the power she had over me at that time, and it cost both of us dearly. Her rock, her brick wall Mom, was vulnerable. I found it necessary to retreat completely in order to lick my wounds and prepare for the next engagement. It was a very dismal time.

Anchulee never really pulled out of her slump that fall, even after starting school and resuming a more rigid schedule. It took a couple of months before Anchulee's teacher recognized my daughter's shallow and narcissistic behaviors. Fortunately for us, the teacher did finally "get on board", and for the rest of the school year we were at least able to hold Anchulee fairly accountable for her choices. Although she performed well academically (she repeated second grade), her peer relationships were a clear reflection of her dysfunction. At home, with every movement and facial expression she exuded the message that being a part of our family was a fate worse than death. She was passive-aggressive and non-compliant at every opportunity. Her long black hair was cut as a result of her poor self-care. The majority of her Christmas vacation was spent moving firewood and "thinking about her life".

After Tony's poor visit in June, he spent the entire summer in a group home in Colorado. We flew him home for a visit in early September. He was distant and difficult. (He was so disruptive when we went to church on Saturday night that he stormed around the parking lot screaming every obscenity he could think of at his Dad.) When he returned to Colorado on Sunday, we were firmly convinced he was never going to live with us again.

Around Thanksgiving, we received a letter from the group home parents detailing the arrangements that needed to be made to transfer legal guardianship to them. It was a decision we had made intellectually, but it really hit me hard emotionally. I shared my pain with Kathy Ryan, my wonderful friend, who along with her husband Larry, had provided numerous weekends of respite care for Tony throughout our most difficult times. Within several days of our initial conversation, Kathy called to suggest an incredible solution. She and Larry were willing to bring Tony into their home on a more permanent basis, with the idea of re-integrating him into our family to whatever extent he could tolerate. They had spent enough hours and days with him to have a realistic picture of what they were getting, and they would enter into the arrangement with no expectations that he would attach to them. They would be agreeable to being the "group home environment" during the times he was with them, and we could be his family. I was amazed and in tears. To me it was a clear answer to prayer, for I had really chaffed at the idea of not being a tangible part of Tony's life, yet I could see that it was not possible to have him in my home full time. Against everyone's advice, including Tony's, we flew him home 8 days before Christmas. He left the airport with the Ryans after totally ignoring me and my family. For once I was not at all emotionally damaged by his rebuffs, for I realized that at least I was going to have the opportunity to be a presence in his life. When he lived with us full time it was impossible to ignore his constant efforts to keep everyone at a distance, but with two families to parent him, it would be much easier to ignore the barbs. We figured that even if we had an angry houseguest every weekend, it was still better than not being around him at all.

His first visit with us was the weekend before Christmas. As soon as he entered the house, I sat him in his favorite spot--in front of the T.V. I handed him the remote control, told him to have a good time and then I left the room to continue my Mom duties with the other three children. We treated him as a guest that first weekend and did not require anything from him. He spent Christmas Eve with us and he seemed to have a wonderful time. He spent Christmas morning with the Ryans but came back to our house by early afternoon. The most amazing thing was the fact that early on, Tony expressed a real desire to be with our family. He considered his time at the Ryans to be simply marking time.

Given his anger and obscenities during his last visit home, as well as a repeat performance on the phone when told he was returning to Kansas, we were clearly skeptical that he was, indeed, glad to be home. However, his attitude continued to seem genuine, and clearly he was making a great effort to get along with everyone. Very soon, he was spending weekdays with the Ryans and every weekend with us. One of the most memorable scenes from those first few weeks occurred after school during the middle of the week. Kathy called me on my mobile phone and asked if I could come to their house as soon as possible. She indicated that Tony was having a very hard time right then and that he had something he wanted to say to me as soon as possible. When I arrived, Tony was pacing in the hallway upstairs and in his room, and he was crying profusely. Tony never cried of his own volition, and if he did cry, it was never with the emotional intensity of what I was witnessing at that moment. As soon as he saw me, he whirled around and blurted, "I have been faking it!! I have been faking having fun with the family!" Obviously he caught me quite off guard, but I motioned for him to sit next to me on the bed while we talked. I started recalling several specific incidents where I had witnessed him having what I thought was a genuinely good time. I asked him about each one, and each time I said, "Were you faking it then?" Each time he answered, "No, that was real then." Finally I said, "Tony, I think what you are feeling inside that is so confusing to you is the feeling of being happy. Have you ever felt happy before?" Through his tears he peered at me and shook his head "no". As we continued to talk, and as he happily snuggled with me on the bed, I became more and more convinced my assessment was correct. He was terrified and confused by the feelings that were welling up inside of him. As he struggled to understand and identify what was happening to him, his list of possibilities sadly did not include anything positive. He returned home with me that night even though it was mid-week. He was spending more and more time with us.

By Valentine's Day he was making no secret of the fact that his goal was to return to our home full time. Goal? My RAD son had a goal? A goal that revolved around commitment? I was giddy with enthusiasm and excitement. The Ryans were equally optimistic. Some of the rest of my family was a little more skeptical, however. In spite of a few misgivings, Tony moved home full time in February. He was fun for me to be around; he was reciprocal to me; he was funny and appropriate. I did not see his selectivity at that time. The months of February, March and early April gave me some of the most cherished memories I will ever have of Tony.

And what was Anchulee doing during Tony's amazing progress? Her birthday in January was a muted event. It is so very hard to celebrate with a child or about a child when that same child is so incredibly difficult to be around. I suspect there are those who believe that a child's birthday should be celebrated no matter what; I disagree. I believe the real world will respond to my child's behavior with real responses, and throwing a big party for a child who has been non-compliant and sour-faced for months is not a real response. By March of 1997, her behavior was having a very negative impact on the family. Being the charitable friend that I am, I did not want the Ryans to get out from under the burden of co-parenting my children, so when Kathy offered a few days before spring break to give the family some respite from Anchulee's 24 hour a day pout, I leapt at the opportunity!! Anchulee had only been at the Ryans for a couple of days when Kathy reported, "You know, for a cute kid, she sure isn't very cute!!" Anchulee remained at the Ryans for 6 weeks, acting the entire time as if her family was the one with the problem, and all she needed to do was wait us out and surely we would come around. Anchulee's apparent unconcern at being apart from her family raised her teacher's awareness considerably. Periodically I would swoop in unannounced to Anchulee and take her places with the family. She steadfastly maintained her pout during these visits. It appeared nothing was going to change.

After a phone conversation with a therapist in Evergreen, I realized the message I was still sending Anchulee was that I was still holding the units of concern for her life! When we did see her, I always asked her if she was thinking about her choices; I pointed out errors in her thinking; I made a point of telling her what the family was doing. The therapist made me realize that although my overt message was one of, "you make your own choices", my covert message was, "we want you to work on your life; you should work on your life." The next time I picked her up, I immediately turned to her and said, "I have been going about this all wrong. You don't want to work on your life, and I have been trying to make you. You need to know that it is OK with me if you want to live away from home. We have another child that lives away from home, and I am OK with loving him from afar. I can love you no matter where you live. From now on I will not ask you to work on your life." Four days later, at Tony's birthday party the third weekend in April, Anchulee asked to come home. I asked her to describe to me what a little girl who wanted to live at home said and did to convince her family she belonged at home. She told me family members loved each other, contributed to the running of the house, treated each other with respect and apologized when they were wrong. (Not exactly in those same words!) She then agreed to apologize individually to each member of the family for the pain and sadness she had caused over the past 8 months. She moved home that day.

Tony had a terrific birthday party, and with his blessings we celebrated 11 instead of 13. He didn't feel 13, (11 was still a big stretch), and we intended to have him repeat 5th grade instead of heading to Middle School. He was happy that day, genuinely happy. My parents were there, and I fixed a special dinner with joy in my heart instead of resentment. We bought Tony a terrific portable CD player. Truly it was a memorable day.

Shortly after Anchulee returned home, I finally made the critical decision to have her evaluated by a psychiatrist. I had avoided this step thus far for several reasons. First, although I had the names of several psychiatrists on my KC ATTACh mailing list, I had not heard glowing reports of understanding and support about any of them. On the contrary, as a profession they were more apt to be known for their rebuttal of RAD as a legitimate diagnosis. Since I was not convinced that the issue of Reactive Attachment Disorder would be acknowledged, my second concern centered around my belief that the first impulse of the psychiatrist would be to medicate my daughter for some other diagnosis, most likely depression. I had not yet come to my own conclusions about whether or not she made bad choices because she was depressed, or whether she was depressed because she made bad choices. In my mind there was a difference, and I sincerely wanted a mental health professional to help me sort it out. My fear was that the psychiatrist would merely jump at the first opportunity to see if there was a magical drug to make her symptoms disappear. Before we made that initial visit, I needed to be at peace with the decision to try drug therapy, even if it was only as a diagnostic tool.

The first appointment went very much as I expected, although the doctor appeared to be more receptive to my thoughts than I had anticipated. It wasn't until after we left his office and various comments came filtering back through my head that I realized how condescending he actually had been. My daughter did leave with a prescription for an anti-depressant. It did, in fact, have a profound impact on her affect and demeanor within a couple of weeks of starting therapy. I am glad that we took that step, although the effect has tapered off considerably this past couple of months. I still believe she functions better with it, and she will remain on it for awhile at least. Because of my knowledge of Reactive Attachment Disorder and because I had been so discounted for so long I had developed extraordinarily thick skin, I challenged the psychiatrist about his assessments when my daughter had routine medicine evaluations. It was on one of those visits that he told me he never made an official diagnosis of RAD "because it gives parents an excuse to blame their children" for their problems. (He had her diagnoses listed as depression and "NOS" - Not Otherwise Specified.) In addition, he stated he believed that RAD was a form of depression, relating back to Freudian views that a child suffered depression as a result of loss of the birthmother. When I tried to pin him down as to how many acting out RAD kids responded to anti-depressant therapy, he quickly ducked the issue. Needless to say, we don't see him anymore.

Although Tony's birthday party was a delightful event, there were several incidents in April that indicated things were beginning to unravel. The first and third weekends of that month I traveled out of town to attend meetings. Tony did not handle my absence well. He questioned my husband endlessly about plane crashes and accidents. He became disruptive, volatile and uncharacteristically emotional. When I called home, he sobbed into the phone that he missed me. Although he appeared to recover upon my return, he was acutely aware of his newly developing vulnerability. In my opinion, he decided at that time that he had two options: continue to allow himself to feel, acknowledge and express emotions, or shut down, distance everyone and return to the familiar "dead zone".

It was with profound sorrow that we watched Tony choose the latter option and systematically destroy all the good bridges he had built. It brings tears to my eyes even now as I document his decline. With incredible rapidity he reverted to the Tony of old, only this time as a result of my own parenting growth and education, I was much more difficult to provoke. Tony found it necessary to "up the ante" to get a reaction, and so he did. He refused to get in the car at a shopping mall one day, resulting in his lying to two local policewomen about where he lived and why he was wandering around. I provided them with a thorough explanation of Tony's troubles and added their names to my growing list of contacts. A day or two after that he resorted to throwing things at me at home and kicking me as I tried to restrain him, so again I phoned the police. I was blessed to have a most impressive, most helpful Mexican American sheriff who immediately got the picture. He sat Tony down and told him in no uncertain terms that there was enough evidence to take him to jail immediately. He spoke to Tony in Spanish as well, although Tony ignored his efforts. The sheriff listened carefully to all I had to say about what we have done for our son and what we were planning to do (we were scheduled to have family therapy in July with Martha Welch, nationally known author of Holding Time). He looked around at our home, our acreage and our numerous dogs, cats and horses and said, "I don't get it! What kid would not be happy here?" He stated that he did NOT want to take Tony to jail because, due to the assault issues, Social Services would need to get involved. The sheriff commented, "You guys are on Square 20 and Social Services will start you on Square 1!" Ultimately it was decided we would not press charges, and the sheriff told me our best bet would be to make a private hospital placement if we needed some emergency intervention in the future. I was unsure of how Tony would behave when the sheriff left, but I felt we had no other choices at that time. Ironically, the sheriff turned out to have a Master's Degree in Psychology, and as he was leaving he told me he felt Tony exhibited characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder. After the sheriff left, I had to drive to pick up the other children at school. Tony was quite out of control when we first left, but he calmed down within about thirty minutes. Incredibly, he processed so little about the events of the day that he had no qualms about asking me to buy him a milkshake at McDonalds within an hour of the sheriff's departure! Reactive Attachment Disorder at its best. It was a most eventful day.

Soon after that, Tony returned to the Ryans for a "cooling off" period. While he was at Ryans, he repeatedly articulated that he wanted to return to Colorado, that life was too hard here, that he didn't want to be in our family anymore. We had long held the belief that many of those choices were up to Tony, that we could not make him be a family member if he had no desire to be one. When he returned home mid morning the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, I called his bluff. I showed him the long letter I had written to the group home parents detailing Tony's escapades, and I handed him a paper that had flight information to Colorado. Tony began to come unglued. By the time we were attempting to eat lunch, he was acting so bizarre that I put him on my lap and held him while the others finished eating. As his behavior continued to escalate, it became clear we were going to need some help, so I suggested to my husband that we hospitalize him. My husband agreed, and he took over the restraint of Tony so I could make some phone calls. At one point, my husband released Tony when he insisted he was under control. Tony then grabbed a kitchen knife and proceeded to huddle under a blanket and make weird noises. My first call was to (where else?) the insurance company, to see what our options were. The agent could hear Tony carrying on in the background, and he told me to call 911. We did, and soon a man/woman team of officers appeared at our door. The woman was in charge, and the man joined my husband on the floor to aid in restraining Tony, who was by now shouting obscenities, kicking, spitting, etc. The woman officer decided that there was too much risk (translation: too much liability) for the officers to transport Tony to the hospital, so she called the EMT's. The result was that, as the rest of the family watched helplessly, Tony was strapped to a board and carried out the door to an ambulance, and then transported to the psychiatric ward of the local hospital. Was it really only a few weeks ago that we had celebrated Mother's Day and Tony's birthday?

At that point, Tony completely gave up any effort to regain control of himself. His decision was final -- return to the dead zone and not venture into the scary and uncharted waters of emotional attachment. His behavior at the hospital was typical. He appeared pretty normal to them, although I am not sure how normal it is for a child to kick his Dad in the leg in front of all the staff. He stayed through mid week, and then returned for a few days to the outpatient program. One of those return trips was precipitated by Tony's attack on both his parents with a coat hanger. My husband restrained him while I drove to the hospital, but at one point Tony broke loose. He either lunged at me or attempted to jump out of the moving vehicle before my husband recaptured him. Although the hospital staff did not really "get it", I gave them no opportunity to interfere in what we were doing. A part of me had to chuckle when they asked me, several days into his hospitalization, just exactly what services did I want them to provide for us?? My answer was simple. I said, "Just exactly what you are doing so far: a safe place for him, respite for us, and no interference with our approach!" I am sure they felt as if their little daily programs did him a world of good, but that is their misconception, not mine........

After that terrible experience, my family could clearly see the writing on the wall. One of the most significant memories I have of those few days was the fact that, within 24 hours of one another, Kathy Ryan and I came to the same conclusions about Tony. We were both very committed to him, and we both think very much alike. Independent of one another, we both drew the same conclusion. Tony needed to be in the group home where no emotional demands were placed on him. Not even two families could make it work. We discussed the details with the group home parents and in early June, Tony returned to Colorado. He actually spent the last few days before he left with us instead of the Ryans, and he seemed relieved not to have to work at it anymore. The night before he left we had a family picture taken, wearing the matching outfits I had made for my family. He chose not to take that shirt when he left.

I write Tony much more often than I did during his first placement. There is no expectation that Tony will ever return home to live with us. I am incredibly sad I will not be the day to day parent in Tony's life, but I am 100% convinced I did everything I could to make it work. In fact, I worked much harder on Tony's life than he did. I simply will not sacrifice my entire family for the sake of one child. No one would win in that scenario, for I do not believe Tony is happy in the environment of a close family. Truly, Tony is not "happy" in any environment right now. I write often with the news of the family, but I have no expectation that I will ever get a letter back from Tony. I write because I want to, because I am still his Mom, because I care about him no matter where he lives.

Interestingly enough, in a family therapy session just last week, my husband expressed sadness and guilt that he did not miss Tony very much. It was revealed in that session, not for the first time I'm sorry to say, that Tony's enjoyable behavior around me was at the expense of much of the rest of the family. In the beginning of Tony's time with us I was the clear target, and the rest of the family had a much different view of his behavior. At the end, I was the one with the rose colored glasses. How terribly sad that my good memories were to some degree at the expense of my other loved ones. My husband never saw the good behavior that Tony presented to me when he moved home in February. The "happy" kid was just an illusion -- all the old anger was still present, just redirected. I do remember my husband having doubts and saying so at the time, but this time I was the one not hearing the message. I saw what I wanted to see and believed what I wanted to believe.

Tony's departure of course had a major impact on the rest of the family, but there was a peculiar sort of déja vû about the experience. The birth kids were as thrilled as I was when Tony appeared to be doing well, but he started unloading on them even when he was still stable around me. Anchulee was struggling mightily with her own issues, but she still could see the error of Tony's thinking. There was not much doubt that Tony was choosing to self destruct. The hospitalization experience was the finale for us all. I still have many talks with Anchulee about Tony and my hopes for and questions about his future. I am at peace with the decision to place him in long term residential care. We have visited him once already, and we will continue to see him as often as we can. At our initial visit he started off angry and ignoring us, but warmed up to be fairly personable by the end. It hurts that he is gone, but it is the way it has to be.

With Anchulee on Prozac and Tony gone for good, we moved into the summer still reeling from the storms just endured. In April I had made arrangements for family therapy in July with Dr. Martha Welch in New York state. The original plan was for there to be 6 of us going. Even though I thought Tony was doing well, I was not so naive as to think there were no issues present. Clearly we still had issues with Anchulee, and the marriage had suffered along with the children. Anchulee maintained better than in past summers through the month of June. We spent July 4th with family in Indiana and traveled on to New York after the holiday. Although we only had 8 hours of therapy with Martha, the benefits were tremendous. Her approach to holding therapy is very family centered, and a great deal of bonding occurred between all of us. Even the birth kids were very impressed, and they love to have holdings even now. My birth daughter has a tough time expressing her feelings, and Martha's training has given me another tool to use with her. Martha's assessment of Anchulee added to what we had already learned about her, and we returned home empowered to prevent Anchulee's behavior from ever deteriorating to the same extent it had in the past. So far, we have been fairly successful in that effort.

Martha spoke at great length to our family therapist here in Kansas, and he continues to meet with us regularly and assess the family's well-being. In a recent session I was forced to face some difficult truths. My birth daughter's insecurity about divulging her feelings in part stems from the disruption in her own attachment that occurred as a result of the addition to our family of these troubled children. My birth son enjoyed a peaceful 4 or 5 years before the family dynamics began to deteriorate, and he is definitely a more secure child. What a bitter pill to swallow! While I believe my birth children have also benefited from the hard lessons we have all learned, it is a fact that a tremendous amount of our time, energy and resources have been devoted to the disruptive family members. It certainly seems unfair. I am optimistic that there is a great deal I can do to repair and increase my daughter's attachments, but it grieves me that I am in the position of having to fix it at all. Martha will tar and feather me if I even think of adding a foster child or another adoptee! So would my parents!

At this point, my husband and I do not intend to pursue another adoption, although in all honesty if the Lord placed a child in our path we would not likely say no. But we certainly are not looking. We have discussed running a group home in about 10 years when the present crew is out of the house. (Although I guess that means Anchulee will have to get through each grade in one year instead of two!) We do respite care on a moment's notice for other members of our group. I am very tough on these little kids, especially when they threaten me with the "real kitchen knife" they have at home and that they threaten to use to kill me. Although I am not an officially trained therapeutic parent, I have attended many hours of workshops and experienced untold hours of personal practice. I have the right disposition for the job and the tenacity of a bulldog. I cannot think of a better direction for my energy than the life and well-being of a damaged child.

When I am overwhelmed, I often think of a comment I read on the attachment disorder support group on the internet. Someone reminded us all that even Jesus asked that the cup be passed from Him. As I stated at the beginning of my story, I am in much, much better shape than I was a year or two ago. I have a wonderful support network from which to gain strength. I am able to differentiate the things which I have the power to change from the things over which I have no control. Through my involvement with ATTACh I have the ability to advocate in a larger way for these children as well as their exhausted, under appreciated, and unprepared families. My husband's comment after reading these words was that there is much less angst in what I write.

After years of struggling with a school system that had no idea what was happening, I have been incredibly blessed this year. I believe one of the many reasons the Lord returned Tony to our home for 6 short months was to work us into the special school that Anchulee now attends. Her teacher is the exact opposite of those I had experienced in the past. Her instincts are right on target, and amazingly, she is pursuing additional training in Behavior Disordered children! She even plans on presenting research and papers to her BD class on Reactive Attachment Disorder. Her professor is enthusiastically supportive of her plans! In addition to the wonderful teacher, the principal is a blessing as well. The entire school is supportive and sends the message that parents may actually know something about their children. When I send Anchulee out the door, I hold none of the units of concern for her academic achievements or lack there of. I am calm and confident that the school will hold her accountable and that no blame will be sent my way. That fact alone has lifted my burden tremendously.

I no longer worry about what others might think of the way I parent, the things I espouse or believe, or whether or not someone else "gets it". If they don't get it, they just need to stay out of my way. There are many things that I know nothing about, but life with an attachment disordered child is something I do know about! Most of all, I have redefined what is worth stressing over and what is of little concern in my life. Child abuse, neglect and abandonment are worth effort and energy; flat tires, late appointments and dirty floors don't qualify. I think I am emerging from the tunnel.

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