Help for broken children

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Everything has changed for the Brown family. But this family is no stranger to change.

The Browns adopted 14-year-old Keaton years ago, he was only 8 at the time.

"I remember for the first two or three months, it was like, awesome.  Wow this is amazing. It's like he didn't even skip a beat. It's like he just fell right into what we do."

But his mom, Amy, says that bond soon changed.

"Don't hug me. Stay away from me. Pushing me away, in the sense of arguments and the sense I'm physically moving you over there."

Keaton was somewhat aware that his behavior was hard for everyone.

"Whenever you get scared or nervous about something, you go into panic mode and you attack other people to keep yourself safe," Keaton said.

Living just to survive day-to-day was a life that Keaton's biological parents had to live with. Many children, before adoption, are forced to learn certain behaviors in order to survive.

"A lot of the nights, I had to get my own food and try to find my own food, " Keaton said. "Nothing in my life had ever been consistent. I'd never really had a steady home, discipline, school."

"I fell into a well, I fell into a black hole. I was so hurt, and I called my mom and said I'll give him back because I can't do it."

That's when the Browns delved deeper into the problem and found that Keaton suffers from RAD.

"RAD is Reactive Attachment Disorder. They've had their heart broken and it derails the brain's ability to connect. When we don't connect with a primary caregiver, it interferes with conscious development, so they don't feel bad when they do bad things; they feel good when they do bad things," Nancy Thomas, a therapeutic parenting specialist, said.

Thomas lives in Colorado and has three adopted children of her own, and has fostered many children. She now specializes in helping families who have children with RAD . She says RAD affects the entire society, not just families like the Browns.

"Without attachment, we have violence. We have more dishonesty, more robberies, more thieves, more parents not caring for their babies because they don't know how to nurture."

She's working to break that cycle. One way she is making a difference is hosting camps for families like the Browns. The camps include therapy, trust games, bonding activities and breakthroughs.

The Browns attended a camp this past spring, and they say it changed their lives.

"It was really wonderful to have some tools and have a plan and do something that we knew had a chance to work."

They say they wish the Department of Human Services (DHS) would have let them know about RAD upon the adoption.  Sheree Powell, from Oklahoma DHS, said they do their best with what they know.

"Sometimes the age of a child really does come into play when it comes to a diagnosis of RAD.
So young children may not necessarily have that diagnosis."

Powell definitely wants adoptive parents of DHS children to know there is help.

"If they've adopted a child through DHS and they're having issues, please contact us."

For Keaton and his parents, getting real about RAD, means a brighter future for their family.

"I still have my struggles and my hiccups, everybody does, but it's like the weight lifted off your shoulder. It's just awesome."

Click here for more information on RAD

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