Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): the alienation and resistance of the adoptee.

I’d like to touch back on to two discussions we’ve had so far, one on nature vs. nurture as posited by Snow Leopard, and the other one having to do with Russian adoptions, and the idea of a second-best race-based adoption, i.e., one that does not (seemingly) require those adopting from having to mythologize their ability to raise a transracially or transculturally adopted child.

The reason I think this deserves more focus in terms of Russian adoptees is that from the web sites that I’ve seen on so-called Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), the majority of the children so diagnosed seem to come from predominantly “white-identified” countries: Russia and Eastern Europe, read: those places deemed as deserving salvation from Soviet-era “Godless Communism”.

Much of the RAD diagnosis is focused not on the adoption itself, but instead on the child as manifesting an “illness” that needs to be corrected via a variety of therapies physical and psychological that I believe would constitute torture if performed on prisoners of war, as defined by the Geneva Convention.

So much of the discussion that needs to be had here seemingly can’t be had, if only because at first glance we are not dealing with a question of “racism”. I would like to challenge this, while also pointing out that the notion of “adoption” is just as culturally specific as the psychological diagnosis of RAD, along with the racism implied.

I make reference here to the article entitled: “The Id, the Ego, and Equal Protection: Reckoning With Unconscious Racism”, written by Charles R. Lawrence III in the Stanford Law Review. He states:

Much of one’s inability to know racial discrimination when one sees it results from a failure to recognize that racism is both a crime and a disease. This failure is compounded by a reluctance to admit that the illness of racism infects almost everyone. Acknowledging and understanding the malignancy are prerequisites to the discovery of an appropriate cure. But the diagnosis is difficult, because our own contamination with the very illness for which a cure is sought impairs our comprehension of the disorder….

Americans share a common historical and cultural heritage in which racism has played and still plays a dominant role. Because of this shared experience, we also inevitably share many ideas, attitudes, and beliefs that attach significance to an individual’s race and induce negative feelings and opinions about nonwhites. To the extent that this cultural belief system has influenced all of us, we are all racists. At the same time, most of us are unaware of our racism. We do not recognize the ways in which our cultural experience has influenced our beliefs about race or the occasions on which those beliefs affect our actions. In other words, a large part of the behavior that produces racial discrimination is influenced by unconscious racial motivation.

The article speaks of the difference between a “dominative racist” who willingly wishes to keep others in a racially subordinate position, and the “aversive racist” who represses such feelings of racial superiority, which manifest themselves in seemingly “positive” ways. I think this dovetails nicely into the previous item about humanitarian imperialism, in which the now taboo ideas of colonialism, Orientalism, subjugation, and outright occupation find expression in a literally “politically correct” manner.

In terms of adoption, it reveals an even more pernicious racism than that which happens with more obviously transracially adopted children. Meaning, it might be possible to state that there is more pressure on a racially similar child to “be” part of the family, and that the lack of such pressure on racially dissimilar children reflects a racially defined “distance” from the child, a child who was perhaps adopted in the first place to assuage feelings of guilt concerning such “aversive” racism. To further explain: There is an explicit racism in thinking that a “similar-race” child should bond more easily than a child seen as transracially adopted, and this manifests itself by attempts at forcing such a bond on a child.

I remember my adoptive father often referring to my likes and interests as “alien” to him, and there was often a joking accusation that I “chose” them in order to go “against” him. Things he might have wanted for me never resonated with me (not that I didn’t try them). But what does it mean to say to a child that they chose to “be” a certain way in order to rebel or retaliate? How much more undermining of an already precarious sense of self? Beyond this, what does it mean as an adoptive parent to enforce such likes, or to remove oneself from the equation entirely?

I wonder to what extent adoptive parents are “let down” by children whose “nature” will not conform to the parents’ “nurture”. Meaning, is there a spectrum of dealing with this that is reflected in the distance of physical similarity of the child to the adoptive parent? A vestigial repressed racism would say, “this child is not like me, is obviously reverting to ‘type’, and so I can disassociate myself from him/her and his/her actions”. The flip side of this very same racism would say, “this child, closer to me in terms of physical appearance, must be forced to reflect such nurturing”, and thus the heinous therapies of RAD which have led to much in the way of physical and psychological harm to children.

From this I would be willing to state that race-similar children, not having the obvious physical “difference” to rely on—i.e., a kind of “safety valve” of obvious difference—might likewise go further in their “resistance” to the adoption, and against those they are compelled to “be like”. In such a light, RAD might better be stated as an acronym that stands for “Resistance Against Domination”, and should be categorized with similar resistances, and supported as such.

I’m not doing justice to this referenced article, but include it in order to provide at least a modicum of background to the following question: I’d like to ask the adoptees here how this notion of “alienation” has played out for them. Has the accusation of being willfully “alien” ever presented itself in terms of your adoptive families? To what extent, and in what relation to your similarity to/difference from how they self-identify?

Expanding out from there, how might it be possible to raise awareness about or otherwise intercede concerning children who are forced to undergo “therapies” to correct their supposed lack of attachment? What does it even mean, in and of itself, that such diagnoses and “therapies” exist in the same culture that gave us adoption in the first place?

26 thoughts on “Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): the alienation and resistance of the adoptee.

  1. As a teen, I was told by my adoptive mother I was stubborn (her way of an insult) which I took to mean as “bad.” She said I acted like I didn’t like her. (I think I gave her mean looks) I was not happy with her yet as a teen I tried to work on my attitude and not show her my dislike. (You learn to be fake this way.) (I think lots of adoptees do this.) Funny how I was made to feel guilty BY her for not accepting her as my mother – this was my intuition and instinct and long before I knew anything about adoption as an industry and mindf*ck.
    As far as treatments for RAD, I think the adoptee is the lab rat they like to experiment on… adoption is a dreadful experiment I would not wish on anyone.
    (Many years passed before I stopped blaming my adoptive parents for much too much. My soul chose this path to learn and grow so I don’t blame them anymore. I do blame the inventors of adoption they created this torture of children.)

    • My mother often expressed her disappointment that she thought that if she adopted a daughter, we would be “friends.” She was crying when she said it. How does a 10-year old respond to that?

  2. First, I was speaking with someone a she lavishly flung around the term RAD to describe how she tried to deal with a teenager living with her. She contrasted RAD with sociopathy. The girl was not actually diagnosed with RAD; that was just how this woman thought of her. Because if she didn’t think of her that way, she would have had nothing to do with her, because she can’t or won’t deal with a sociopath. I said, “Oh, [the girl’s] adopted?” There was confusion, because I’d never heard of RAD outside of an adoption context. And the woman had never heard of RAD within an adoption context. So I’m mentioning this, to add to our context.

    Now that I’m older, my dad sometimes is vocally appreciative of how I apply my education (he would say, appreciative of my “intelligence”). The acknowledgment is nice, although it is coming from someone who is simultaneously claiming he can’t really follow what I’m saying—not that he’s uneducated, etc., I’m just more intellectually inclined in the classic bookworm sense. But when I get the compliment from him, it doesn’t point just to a difference in degree (that I’m “smarter” in his estimation), but a difference in kind (that I’m also a different kind of smarter). I wouldn’t have thought of this but for the distinction you’re proposing, Daniel, but I can recognize this is a case in point because the compliment has that “feel” of my dad sensing me as something, if not alien, then at least not the same as he is.

  3. Daniel has suggested that diagnoses of RAD may result more often with putatively same-race adoptions, because in other-raced adoptions the fact of an ostensibly different race between parent and child stops a parent short of resorting to more extreme measures (up to and including therapies for RAD) to enforce acculturation to expected family norms when critical differences arise between the parent and child. He further identifies as a kind of pre-sign of increased risk for a RAD diagnosis in same-race adoptions is parental labeling of the child as alien or the like.
    Since RAD “is by definition based on a problematic history of care and social relationships,” to seek the problem in the child is a curious dodge—as if the parents who have generously rescued the child from whatever previously abusive situation there was could not ever, in some way, be continuing the problematic history of care and social relationships themselves. Consequently, “Children with RAD are presumed to have grossly disturbed internal working models of relationships which may lead to interpersonal and behavioral difficulties in later life.” Notwithstanding the problematic and dubious value of RAD as a concept, if I take that description as a starting point, it’s easy enough for me to imagine that the sense of total alienation I felt from around age 7 onward, an alienation so complete that I thought I was like ET, an alien who had been accidentally left behind on earth, could have been construed in terms of a “grossly disturbed internal working model of relationships”. Moreover, my father had a violent temper, and so I made it my policy not to act outwardly; any appearance of compliance on my part was just an appearance. Inwardly, I was rebelling completely. I would have come across as one of those “disinhibited” RAD kids—the kind that shrink from displays of affection, but in my family this wouldn’t have been noticed much. My mother was already non-affectionate, and I went out of my way to stay out of my father’s sight. (This all assumes RAD isn’t total bullshit, of course.)
    So, although I was hyper-alienated, the crushing presence of my father would have kept any reactivity on my part under the cover of darkness and outward compliance. And while I was hyper-alienated, I don’t remember any significant moments by my parents of being labeled as alien (prior to age 22). My father’s violence toward me (nor my adopted sister nor my parents’ biological son) was never mitigated by the details of our births. (My sister disagrees that there was differential treatment between adopted and non-adopted in our family, but I’ve never discussed this with her in detail.)
    If I am a same-race adoption, then, this all potentially adds confirmation to Daniel’s hypothesis.
    I am white. My adoptive mother is white (and a former step-daughter herself). And my adoptive father is an Apache/Hispanic who thoroughly embraced the Devil’s Bargain of assimilation.
    So the odd circumstance here is my mother is white and my father is “white”. Psychologically, my childhood was dominated by my father, but as I’ve gotten older, the lingering and deep resentments are more toward my mother, for letting it happen, even for excusing it. My father has apologized—not my mother.
    So which of them was more brutally forcing me into the expected familial acculturation because it got less pushed into the forefront of their consciousness that I wasn’t the same as them? Was I supposed to be (that is, was I already taken to be) white or “white”? I of course remember my father harassing me, and I remember various squabbles between my mother and father and sister. I don’t remember any trouble with my brother (my parents’ biological son), not at least until he was in college.
    Too many extra variables. And I feel like my attempt to further tease out Daniel’s hypothesis in a more general way has bogged down in autobiographical minutiae.

  4. I also have to say: Lawrence is going off the rails to shoehorn racism into the metaphor of mental illness. People who murder under the influence of mental illness get mitigated circumstances for diminished culpability. He medicalization of this, endemic to the trend of the 20th century general, is to hide all moral turpitude under the banner of mental illness. This is because no one has figured out (in the intellectual circles at least) how to ground morality. There’s no deity, no shared source (god or culture), so if we can say that it’s a somatic defect in the brain, ultimately genetic, then that becomes the basis for criticising racism, otherwise it becomes just “your opinion” that you don’t like my racism, etc.

    Nonetheless, this is a dangerous and wrong way to go. Too much gets lost, too much leeway is given, when this is called a mental illness.

    Some time back, a Harvard psychologist started a support group for people who had been abducted by aliens. Recently, another one started a support group for people who receive angelic or demonic channelings (i.e., voices in their heads). that one needs to take the person’s condition at face value in order to address it may lie behind these gestures, if they are not just venal exploitations of people’s suffering. (that begs the question whether psychology in general is not that.) since it is obvious, there probably is a support group for those with the mental illness of racism, but it’s just not going to get press like groups for Whitley Streiber or the “prophet” Isaiah.

    • I hear what you are saying. To perhaps clarify a bit, the article is responding to a legal decision that thereforth required proof of racist motivation in cases of bias and discrimination. The argument he is making is that racism is not just the willful act of an individual, but the systemic nature of the social order, and that the blaming of the individual is a useless shifting of the blame, yet still blameworthy.

      I think “disease” and “disorder” are used more metaphorically, and not in the sense of clinically diagnosing someone and thus relieving them of culpability. It asks for a looking past the individual blame that the court demands (in a racist effort to make such crimes unprovable), in a greater attempt to collectively change the order itself.

      To me it brings up what we would all recognize as being “racially motivated” acts, but also what we might not: Black History Month, for example, or ethnic studies programs. Or transracial adoption.

      In terms of RAD, I would argue that it is the “half-baked” diagnosis of RAD that instead relieves the willful act of racial and racist implications, and blames the child and not his or her milieu. The parental rights of the dominant class are seen as a status quo that is not questioned. I don’t think the author’s aim is to mitigate their guilt, but to not allow their actions to be individualized and thus dismissed.

      To cross topics a bit, the recent demand that racial profiling be performed on white males [ link ] after the recent shooting in Connecticut is a similar attempt, it would seem, to balance woefully unbalanced scales.

      • This gesture — “I don’t think the author’s aim is to mitigate their guilt, but to not allow their actions to be individualized and thus dismissed” — is a key one insofar as the emphasis on extreme individualism (in Jung’s phrase) provides the plausible deniability for systemic violence, racism, patriarchy, &c.

        I think I’m still pretty dubious that “disease” or “disorder” can help in the “looking past the individualistic blame”. But maybe no one is making that claim and I’m just misreading or misunderstanding things.

  5. “”RAD might better be stated as an acronym that stands for “Resistance Against Domination”” – I love this…I just may start using it regularly…

  6. I’ve been thinking about this concept for a long time. Adopters, when it comes right down to it, count on Stockholm Syndrome. Children who don’t succumb are labelled RAD.

    Whenever I encounter an infertile woman so desperate to be a mother that she’ll bring home a stranger’s baby and force it to live in her fantasy, I always secretly wonder what she would do if she were single and desperate to be married. Would she drag some strange man home and force him to watch the Notebook and cuddle? And if she did, would society think it was beautiful and precious? Or would they think she was delusional and dangerous?

    Rhetorical question, of course.

    But why? Why is what is clearly a crime between adults viewed in such an overwhelmingly positive way when one of the parties is a child?

    • “Why is what is clearly a crime between adults viewed in such an overwhelmingly positive way when one of the parties is a child?”

      An essential question. And I say it is because the child, s an object, is still in the condition of slave. Adult women have been comparatively liberated in some places to some extent, but children–essentially nowhere.

      In Lerner’s (1987) The Creation of Patriarchy she attempts to document how women were the first to be made into slaves and once that was accomplished, men learned how to enslave other men. but Lerner, who is a founder of women’s studies, neglects to recognize that children were the first slaves before the enslavement of women could have occurred.

  7. Pingback: RAD and Normalcy: Is RAD Actually the Normal Response for an Adoptee? | Mad Momma Moogacat

  8. I, too, love this: Resistance Against Domination.

    Daniel’s points are well taken. The dominant, white American point-of-view as the accepted narrative puts even the “white” Russian or Eastern European adoptee on the offensive. (And therefore Putin is considered biased because he believes Russian children should be raised in Russia, by Russians.)

    Is it only Americans who forget how our ethnicity is written on ourselves, our DNA, or bodies? Is it the Melting Pot mentality that lets American believe they can successfully “rescue” Russian babies and assimilate them? I’m sure they’ve simply never thought about it.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking discussion …

  9. Reblogged this on Ghost Kingdom and commented:
    Among the comments, I heard some of the hushed voices of Romanian adoptees. I am presently pulling together a book (yes, a real printed book) that will encompass adoptee and dispossessed experiences from the entire globe – not just the States. I’d like to hear from you.


    • One may well question whether his pious insistence that race doesn’t matter to him (or his wife) is true, but his argument remains the classic one against interracial marriages: think of the children. (The presumption, of course, being that Russian children are “white”).

      I only mention this to clarify from dude’s article that the visible reason he offers for adopting Russian children was NOT because he himself (or his wife) wanted “white” children. When he points to “racism,” he puts the future problem on the child (the child may reject him), and implies he lives in a benighted world full of people who would not (be able to) understand or accept his “race-blind” choice of a child from Nigeria or Korea or India.

  10. Daniel… you are so far ahead me… I’ve recently been delving into the possibility that adoptees have a disorder that has yet to be defined (for example by the American Board of Psychology). I’ve never heard of this RAD and “resistance to domination” is the best way I’ve heard described to what I’ve seen in myself and others. I believe this is a possible root of the problem in the Korean Adoptee world. We are notorious for loving public lynching’s, and resisting any type of authority at all. If we feel someone is domineering us or attempting to dominant us we lash back with the fury (often dirty ways). The trail of evidence is all over the adoptee world. I found it fascinating what Snow Leopard said about her parental dynamic. I too had one dominant parent. My a-mother was so dominant it was like “Sleeping with the Enemy” type of control. My father was obviously viewed as a sibling within the household. Maybe even a younger one. As I grew up my father was the favorite but than my resentment towards him mounted for not “protecting” me. My RAD is up their with the best of them… However I think it comes out in different ways for adoptees and even can be suppressed. Our obsession with being in control is wildly understated. We attempt to control in many different ways, often learned from our different experiences. It is our response to (RAD), we attempt to “dominate” the situation in order to resist. Are familiar with the theory of “self medicating?” I believe its possible adoptees have been self-medicating this disorder in many unhealthy ways. I’m so positive their is a disorder and I’m very positive that the adoptee world will be un-receptive to it because it would basically indicate and point out issues we don’t want to be brought up. However, I think its important for the next generation of adoptees so they can lead the best lives possible. Why are adoptees so good at pointing out issues in other adoptees? Why does it often make us sick and turned off to watching other adoptees self-destruct? Its because its like looking in the mirror. Its ugly. So many adoptees I think attempt to rationalize this concept. However I think it comes out in varying degrees of education and experience. Many cannot rationalize, quantify or reflect with your skill Daniel; but the concept needs to be looked at IMO. It may need to explained in different ways for others to understand it or even accept it. The million dollar question is… Is this a product of human behavior? Or one that pertains to adoptees? Maybe not exclusively but appears far too often to be a coincidence?

    • My reply here relates obliquely to what you wrote below as well. And amongst the many phrases that resonated, the question “is this a product of human behavior” stands out. My tone throughout is aggressive, but I am not directing it at you personally.

      I categorically reject any construction of “human nature” without a mountain of caveats. At root, “Human nature” as a term of discourse in Occidental culture (at least) is a buzzword for that which cannot be changed. For example, we see people being greedy, and someone says, “That’s human nature.”


      It’s bad human behavior, but it’s not inherent human behavior. How can I say this? Because (1) that behavior wasn’t just learned, it was taught; (2) not everyone is greedy. Saying human beings are, by nature, greedy is simply an elaborate way to apologize for, and even rationalize, the inhuman behavior of people on Wall Street, &c. I refuse to dignify their immorality by appeals to human universals.

      A war starts, And someone says war is inevitable, because of human nature, because we’re by nature violent.


      It’s merely bad human behavior, but it’s not inherent human behavior. How do I know? Because (1) that behavior wasn’t just learned, it was taught; (2) 99.9% of people behave decently toward others 99.9% of the time. Saying human beings are, by nature, violent is simply an elaborate way to justify State violence. Saying war is inevitable allows the subhuman brutality of the Israelites against Palestine not simply to continue, but to be dignified with the name necessity. Or the disgusting immorality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, &c. No. No, and no, and no.

      A man rapes a woman, and someone calls that human nature.


      But I don’t need to continue in this vein.

      These days, genetics now gets used (illegitimately) as the basis for essentialist arguments about human nature in this negative sense I am describing. And psychiatry, with its unregenerate medicalization of all things moral represents a major thrust of that effort. I have been reading old papers by Jung, and in them he speaks of things like “moral insanity”–because when he wrote the field did not yet have the “genetic argument” or psychopharmaceuticals. For psychiatrists then, to engage in theft meant (literally) that one was “morally insane”–morally deranged. At root, they were describing a character defect, but it is a defect whose origin is “softened” in the sense that early psychiatrists tried to treat compassionately the sort of character defects that previous (religious) moralizers treated extremely harshly, extremely judgmentally. The psychiatrists were highly patronizing and condescending, of course, but their approach still represented an advance of compassion, compared to the fire and brimstone pulpit-types.

      These days, psychiatry locates character defects in our genes, and that means claiming they are an inherent part of human nature. What compassion psychiatry once had for these character defects now exaggerates the patronizing and condescension, in part because psychiatry has had to come to terms with the fact that it is an almost entirely useless pseudoscience, where spontaneous recovery works better than all offered ‘cures.” The drugging of millions of people does nothing but “manages” the “character defect”–it cures nothing. And let me be clear: whatever “good” these psychotropics accomplish (for schizophrenics or people with depression), that goo most certainly might be arrived at in some other way, and the fact that billions and billions of dollars get spent to ensure that those alternatives don’t get taken seriously in the public discourse only points to the stranglehold of an approach to “inherent human nature” that thinks drugging people into oblivion is the only way to go.

      I suggest that for every legitimate use of psychotropic medication, there are 100 bogus diagnoses like ADHD, BPD, &c. We might not that NPD is getting dropped from the DSM V, I heard. Meanwhile, any time I hear about “identifying” some “syndrome” or condition (this is true in the medical field generally), What I hear is a will to overdiagnosis in order to advance the (psycho)pharmaceutical market. It is 99% illegitimate for that reason, and the 1% that is not does not justify the approach.

      So, adoptees exhibit a range of (neurotic) behaviors–that are either their fault or the fault of a social environment that put them in that situations–and that’s just human nature, to react that way (i.e., RAD)?


      Besides the fact that it’s victim blaming (just as it would be to say Palestine “brought it on itself” that the woman sexually assaulted “was asking for it” that all those elderly people FUCKED out of their money by Wall Street fuckers DESERVED what happened to them), it is also personally and politically disempowering to say something beyond my control (my genes) made me this way. Not only does that remove any responsibility for me to do anything about it, it (literally) makes apologetics an (again) rationalizes the behavior of the adopters and traffickers. Since human nature will never change, we can’t solve the problem.

      Except that adoption hasn’t always looked like this. Human beings created or responded to the circumstances in which we now act. And humans can create new circumstances or stop reacting that way–unless, of course, we tell ourselves it’s human nature.

      Nobody gains anything by labeling themselves as mentally ill, according to the labels available from psychiatry. Addressing one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions as they manifest is one thing. Telling you about “my” ADHD (or my Asperger’s or my autism) is me saying, “I refuse to hear anything about it. I will not even consider thinking about myself differently.” To label oneself as mentally ill is (by definition) disabling; to recognize my thoughts, feelings, and emotions that I am having trouble with can be (and hopefully may be) empowering, because I can the address it. If my mental illness is genetic, then all that can be done is manage it–with expensive drugs provided by people making billions off of me agreeing to their diagnosis. It damns me to a lifetime of the condition.


      White America dealt with the problem of poverty by labeling people of color as economically disadvantage, as suffering from Racial Disparity Syndrome (RDS) we might say. The Civil Rights movement proceeded by insisting upon the dignity of human persons, not their deficiencies, their strengths, not their weaknesses. &c.

      For all the condescension and patronizing of psychiatrists of yore, at least in their diagnosis of moral insanity they still recognized (1) that the person might learn to change their behavior (without being drugged), but also that (2) a vision of the patient’s humanity, their wellness, not their illness, their goodness, not their defectiveness, stood at the center of their treatment.

      That’s not the case anymore. And all efforts to medicalize or pathologize behavior in this way not only fundamentally damns individuals, but also serves as an apologetics for the people and the social circumstances that have abused those individuals.

      • Well you definitely made your points clear Lol.. I appreciate and respect your viewpoints… The Western pharmaceutical companies and mental health experts are in bed, yes. The curing of all these ailments is simply a get-rich plan for everybody in the health care business. However, the number one key to self-improvement is awareness. Sometimes when one is depressed you don’t realize it. Sometimes when one is bitter or upset, one does not realize it. Sometimes when one is having neurological difficulty, one does not realize it. By having well known “bad behavior” quantified in TRA’s, into a defined trait means parents can get their children to a trained therapist. Talking about issues and bringing them to the forefront is a great recipe for recognization and healing. The only way to make people aware is by giving these sets of very very common behaviors from Transracial adoptees, a definition. The light bulb isn’t going to go off in adoptee parents heads unless they are educated. In the wrong set of hands mental health can be a weapon used to keep one down, shun them, and inaccurately label them with a damaging diagnosis. In the wrong hands a “mental health label” can be used as an excuse and allow for individuals to think they have a free pass for bad behavior. In the wrong hands a steak knife can be a murder weapon. Human behavior is self-centered. We are programmed from birth to want to survive and thrive. Males are programmed to climb the tree of “mate worthiness.” Females protect themselves and ability to reproduce, as well as their offspring. We are eccentric creatures and our behavior manifests in many different forms. However when you break them down to their core, there are some distinct common elements. People are people whether you’re in Pakistan, Seoul, England, or New York. They’re are just different environments in which human traits are adapting too.

  11. Here is something I wrote a few months ago to a circle of close friends..

    Hello friends! My mounting opposition both socially and professionally (adoption agendas) in the KAD world is mounting. It is hard to be my friend right now in the KAD world and have any faith standing up for me. My friends and associates change as quickly as the turbulent Minnesota seasons. However, I would like you to know I’m 100% going to continue working on this project. As my journey into the adoptee world continues, my views have changed yet again. This is still going to be an anthology, but its going to be an anthology attempting to chronicle Korean adoption and its effect. As far as I can see people have pointed to things like PTSD, Stockholm Syndrome and what not, as possible effects of IA/TA. I’m not sold. I’ve seen symptoms of self-destructive behavior in KAD, after KAD, after KAD. I have a theory and I’m working on it with a licensed psychologist and will be attempting to work the theory with medical professionals. I seriously believe, (at least up until now) we have all been afflicted with a personality disorder specific to IA/TA. However the kicker is that I don’t think it has been defined medically yet by the board of American Psychology. I believe it is very similar or an offshoot of Borderline Personality Disorder. This has been a well documented personality disorder that has achieved enormous success with the treatment Dialectal Behavior Therapy. However I feel their are two kickers that specifically make this unique. I see many symptoms, in many people, that I’ve never met, and similar behavior in too many people that lead vastly different lives. However, I believe that the disorder can either be inflamed or put into remission so to speak. If your in a turbulent environment (such as me with poker, and drugs) it can be inflamed and the symptoms can be readily apparent. However, we as Korean adoptees are the best at blending into environments and hiding our disorder. We’ve only been doing it since we were infants. I don’t think psychologists and mental health experts have been any match for finding our true feelings and disorder over the years. We are simply too good at hiding it. Now on the flip side, if you have learned to be a mature adult, happily married, great family… blah blah blah it can go into remission for the emotionally strongest of us. However I don’t think it ever completely goes away like many claim. I think its sorta like Magic Johnson with HIV. If your rich you can live with it, and it may never effect you visibly. However, if unexpected tragic events crop up in your life… look out… the beast will unleash. This is a pretty crazy theory… However, I have one medical professional highly interested at the moment. I’ve been in therapy since I was a kid. Tony Soprano style lol. I’ve attempted to get psychologist after psychologist to diagnosis me with Borderline Personality Disorder. Every single one has refused. They say I do not have it but exhibit symptoms. That is why I feel it is a disorder specific for us and is undefined medically so far. I’m on a mission not to find more questions but to find answers. I’m not sure if this will help pro-adoption or anti-adoption. I foresee it helping pro-adoption. If you can define and locate the largest problem (along with single moms getting their babies jacked by deushbags) and fix it……I’m guessing it helps. Thank people. Please give feedback if you have the time. Your Friend… Robby

  12. Human behavior is self-centered.

    I go back to this statement you made Robby because it saddens me in many ways. What is more “self-centered” than finding “illness” in one’s self? Especially if it is a diagnosis that comes with very particular incentives? It’s taken me my whole life to understand a) that this is not true and b) where this kind of insidious propaganda comes from, and for what reasons. Whereas Lord of the Flies was written in a very particular economic, religious, and political climate, the fact that there is no Pakistani version, for example, is telling. It is pretty much unthinkable that certain cultures might manifest such ideas, and so these universals are the first things that have to be challenged if you ask me. When they have reached a point where they do manifest themselves—when they’ve been globalized into a particular mindset—this is referred to as “progress” and modernization. I call it regression and reduction.

    I am old enough to remember the days of “community” growing up in the United States; I have found it in my life here in Lebanon; I spent all of October writing about this subject. To accept this idea that we are inherently “self-centered” is to have given up before even engaging. All of our originating cultures as well as our acculturating society have many more examples disproving this than proving it….to me it becomes of ultimate importance to seek these out. Personally, I think we need to educate ourselves first, and worry less about adopters. This is 99% versus 1%. To remain on the 1% side is to reveal how we see ourselves. I say this as someone who spent much of his life there, for various reasons, and with much regret in my waning years.

    It was this “education” of myself that “cured” me of the “diagnoses” that some would love to slap on me, and which I’ve come close to describing myself as suffering. I think the point here is that taking a step back calls into question the entire process of diagnosing. There is no empowerment in diagnosing ourselves is the point. If I say I am “depressed” this should be a condemnation of my society, not of myself. To say I am “colonized” explains this a bit better perhaps, borrowing from Frantz Fanon as I tend to do a lot. There are other ways of empowering ourselves—communally speaking—as opposed to one’s self—individually speaking—but they are a bit more painful perhaps, and, well, a bit less “self-centered”.

  13. To the adoptive parents who keep trying to get their comments through here: Spare us the lectures, please. All parents who diagnose their children with this “illness” should turn the lens around. Your missives are truly offensive, yet they follow a pattern that is quite frightening. In their browbeating, subliminal intimidation, hatred for these children’s progenitors, and narcissism (does a world exist outside of adoptive parents’ sense of themselves?), they reveal the true source of the children’s ills. May they survive your care relatively intact.

  14. I have studied psychology for 4 years now and honestly had never even heard of RAD.

    I have gone over recent research literature and have found that RAD, like other ‘attachment disorders’ is considered highly controversial by many in the mental health professions.

    RAD has been criticized academically for being misused, particularly in relation to adopted and foster children, for leading to new so called ‘treatments’ that are not grounded in scientifically sound research, and for being inconsistent with Bowlby’s Attachment Theory ( ) from which it originally evolved.

    Here are some links to research articles if any adoptees are interested in knowing more:,, .

  15. Pingback: On “radical psychology”. | Daniel Drennan ElAwar

  16. I’m embarrassed I missed this important post Daniel! Once again, you’ve nailed it. The whole RAD complex needs to be dismantled. The pathology was never us. Thank you for verbalizing this so well.

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