“Attachment” is term that is both used and abused. It can refer very broadly to the bonding process that occurs between parent and child. Disturbed attachment is consequence of trauma. It is often erroneously described as a consequence of adoption.
Because this happens most frequently with children adopted from foreign orphanages, RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder, broad terminology in DSM IV; narrowed in DSM V) and DSED (Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder, in DSM V) are frequently thought of as simply one more thing in the broad category of adoption issues. (Please note: “RAD” is a common shorthand for “Reactive Attachment Disorder” but “SED” is our made up abbreviation strictly for our purposes here. Don’t expect to find “SED” anywhere else.) This view is in error. RAD and DSED are disorders based upon trauma, not adoption. They appears frequently in adoptive families because abused and neglected children are frequently candidates for adoption. Children who have been abused and neglected as infants and toddlers but remain with their parents are at high risk. Children raised by nannies where the nanny keeps changing are at risk. Children adopted at birth with loving care from consistent parent figures are not at risk. They may have other psychological and behavior problems due to adoption but not this problem.
What is really at issue is explained in the full article available to members. But if a provider (outpatient clinic or residential program) refers to attachment issues and adoption issues as if they are the same thing, we would need to question seriously the competence of that provider.
Last Updated November 26, 2014