The Magic Number 8

The Magic Number 8

When it comes to RAD, 8 seems to be our “magic number.” My daughter was 8 years old when she was diagnosed. It took 8 years before I could honestly say she seems to be healing. We’ve gone through 8 therapists. But most taxing of all, we’ve survived 8 CPS investigations.

Yes, 8…EIGHT!! It’s stressful enough to have CPS at your door even once, but by the eighth time you get pretty used to it. It’s not that we’re bad parents either — *every* *single* *report* was deemed to be untrue. In fact, with CPS the default stance seems to be “guilty until proven innocent,” but by the end of our eighth investigation our record was flagged with “innocent until proven guilty.”

So how did we get ourselves into such a mess?

Welcome to Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)!! Take RAD, mix in type-1 diabetes (insulin dependent), add a bunch of well-meaning adults, and you have a recipe for CPS soup. Children with RAD are masters at triangulating the adults in their lives. They thrive on controlling the situation (no matter what it is), and learn from an early age how to manipulate to get what they believe they need. If that means turning the rest of the world against the very people that love them, that’s ok — it’s all about getting their needs met their way. You can’t fault them for it either — it’s how their brain is wired from a very young age. But knowing that certainly doesn’t make it any easier on the parents who are watching themselves become the evil villains of the neighborhood and don’t understand why. We can tell you why — your child with RAD is telling everybody what horrible parents you are.

When I was doing the single dad thing (during one of the periods my daughter had triangulated my wife and I into a second separation — before we caught on to what was happening), I couldn’t really understand why the neighbor would hang a bag of snack-type foods on our door for my daughter’s school every morning. After all, she was making her own lunch and taking it with her. But I figured, no harm no foul, right? Right. Until CPS showed up at my door wanting to look in my cupboards and refrigerator. Of course there was plenty of food in the house and as I explained it to the CPS worker, just because I don’t stock my home with cakes and candies, doesn’t mean I don’t have food for my daughter to eat. Well as it turns out, that was the very story people were getting. My daughter didn’t like that I wasn’t providing sweets and lots of goodies (she is diabetic after all), so she would throw away her food and tell people she had nothing to eat.

So why didn’t people call me instead of CPS? Did I mention RADs are masters at manipulation? Who knows WHAT she was telling them about me. Probably that I would beat her if they did.

Far fetched? One time deal? Nope. A year or so later my wife and I were back together and my daughter was in another school. We tried to work with the school but certain staff members there refused to cooperate with us. As it turns out, they believed we “tortured” and “starved” her (the exact words that were reported to us). Needless to say, we got to meet with CPS yet again.

You may not be able to stop your child from telling horrible stories about you, but there are things you can do to prepare for CPS. Keep an emergency folder handy at all times. In this folder you should keep your child’s diagnosis, any therapists notes, definitely therapists names and numbers, plus the names and numbers of any doctors that are involved in your child’s treatment. Keep detailed notes about your child’s behavior and keep those in there as well. Basically you want to be able to hand this over to the CPS worker and have them get an idea of what is REALLY going on. We finally lucked out on the 8th try and got a social worker that understood RAD. She was a great resource and helped us prevent at least 2 more potential reports, and it was actually nice to have our position validated. But the road getting there was horrible, stressful, and caused a lot of heartache and sleepless nights.

So keep that emergency folder handy, but whatever you do…don’t EVER open the door to CPS while shirtless and holding a beer — save that for the next time you’re on COPS…

Photo by meemal

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