Ray Wheatley De Forge
Born Ray Alan Amick lll in 1994
Reactive attachment disorder.
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a condition where a child doesn’t form healthy emotional bonds with their caretakers (parental figures), often because of emotional neglect or abuse at an early age. Children with RAD have trouble managing their emotions. They struggle to form meaningful connections with other people. Children with RAD rarely seek or show signs of comfort and may seem fearful of or anxious around their caretakers, even in situations where their caretakers are quite loving and caring. This does continue into adulthood. When individuals from attachments for the wrong reasons, or get too attached to some extent obsessed. The attachment can seem like a life and death choice.
Ray's birth parents were drug addicts when Ray was just over a year old, they forgot to feed him for over 10 days. Ray's birth father out of anger over the constant crying shook Ray severally. Ray stopped crying permanently after that. Ray was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome. His one-year-old brain was swollen due to the shaking. He was diagnosed with Failure to Thrive. Due to no food his body had given up and Ray was dying. The hospital placed a feeding tube in Ray's stomach to give him the nutrients he needed to live. One year later Jesse was born and tested positive for drugs and alcohol. DCFS had placed Ray and Jesse's older sister in a foster home lace all three children in foster care. Jesse joined Ray in Olive Crest and then with the Lagon Family for the next four years of their lives. Their birth parents were told to leave the state or charges would be brought against them. The parents relocated to Pennsylvania where they continued to do drugs and have more children.
Who does reactive attachment disorder affect?
Reactive attachment disorder is most common among children who experience physical or emotional neglect or abuse. While not as common, older children can also develop RAD. Children may be more likely to develop RAD if they:
Have many different parent figures, like multiple foster care situations.
Were taken away from their primary caretakers after bonding with them emotionally.
Experienced several traumatic losses early in life.
Have parental figures who didn’t try to become emotionally close to them.
Spent time in an institution, like an orphanage, where they didn’t have a loving parent figure.
Effects can continue into adulthood, with other diagnosis like Autism and Schizophrenia.
In some cases, parents who adopt children without knowledge of the child’s history might have trouble forming a bond with the new addition to their family, especially if the child has any emotional instability. When we picked Ray and Jesse for adoption, we had no idea about their history or diagnosis of Autism, RAD or testing positive for drugs and alcohol.
They did have an awesome placement with a large foster family for over three years. The caretaker worked for DCFS. From what we were told the afterschool babysitter did not show up and the police were called. The boys were pulled from the only home they had come to love. Ray shut down for over three days and would not eat or speak to anyone. Jesse was put in restraints because he refused to calm down. Another foster placement failed, and both were sent to a therapeutic foster home for up to four boys.
DCFS was past the court ordered deadline for finding permanent place for Ray and Jesse after five years in the system. When we stepped up to adopt it was the therapeutic foster home family that tried to stop it.
The reason was Ray's Reactive Attachment Disorder. At the age of seven Ray had not bonded with anyone. For Ray everything was temporary. The foster family claimed they were so close to bonding it would be wrong to remove them at that time. The truth was they did want the boys going to a two-dad family. Something about being Mormon might have made us an issue. DCSF stood up for us. Our point was they should be bonding with us, not them just to be removed again. The judge agreed. We have the boys just months later after the therapeutic foster family was told they could lose their foster care license if they did not cooperate with the adoption.
How common is reactive attachment disorder?
The exact rate of occurrence is unknown since many cases aren’t reported, but reactive attachment disorder can occur in up to 1% to 2% of children. Kids who are removed from their homes and placed in other settings, like foster care, are much more likely to experience RAD. Almost half of these children have difficulty developing relationships over time. In Ray's case his attachment is on a light switch. It is a life and death relationship meaning one minute he loves you and the next minute he hates you. I have personally seen him flip the switch off, and after time back on again and desperate for forgiveness. As his dad it is the most painful experience.
This is why we have red flag laws. People with RAD can turn off all emotion and do not care of the consequences. Older children and adults can be talked into attachment with anyone that gives them what they want or feel they need at the time. With Ray's case he was taught the difference of right and wrong but not when it comes to attachment. A bad person could talk Ray into doing bad things. It must sound be logical to Ray's brain, and based on the end result helping Ray get what he wants. Learning was hard we used rewards to encourage Ray to try harder. Our logic was based the autism makes learning harder but not impossible. Math was made a competition between brothers. I became an expert at IEP's and advocating for accommodations for the boys' learning disabilities. We had school at home every day even if there was not homework.
As an adult Ray struggles to have girlfriends and friends that do not use him. People he meets tend to use his disability to their advantage. A lesson that at this time Ray has not learn to recognize when people are friendly for the wrong reason. Ray only sees the kindness in people when it is aimed at his direction. He trusts everyone if they treat him like he is "normal" and they give him what he wants. Which in his case is friendship.
Ray disability is available to strangers as soon as Ray has a conversation. Ray's speech is greatly affected by growing up in with a large African American Family of Foster and Adopted Children. His verbiage confuses words, reverses words, and everything is based on Ray's logic and how Ray was informed of the information.
Boys, Education and Competition and Kelton
After Ray and Jesse adoption was final, and we inquired about adopting another child They asked us to consider Kelton. Kelton was at the higher Asp burgers side of the spectrum. Kelton was great in academics and his issues was more social and emotional. His birth father was arrested for domestic violence against a girlfriend. She had Kelton placed in foster care and Kelton's father could not provide care for Kelton while at work. Danny signed the paperwork for an open adoption that also failed. Kelton's placement in Child Haven was an issue due to his Asp Burgers.
We move on the advice of Ms. Giguere Ray's Fifth Grand teacher. The boys attended Harney MS and Iverson ES where I became actively involved. I secured a Crosswalk between the two schools a Rec Center and was a Crossing Guard for a short time. My personally involvement led me to join the Nevada PTA Board of Managers as Non-Dues Revenue Chair. The VP of Membership and Marketing. This is where, when and how I learned to advocate for people with disabilities and a lot of other things.
The problem with Two Dads
The one thing we could not provide is a mom with chest you can bury your face into as a kid. Then learn when maybe that is not appropriate at some point. Seriously Thank God for PTA moms that understood my sons need for hugs was inappropriate and shared that information. That was a teaching moment that had my mom and sister flying out to Las Vegas for several trips and then talking us into moving back to Illinois where I grew up at. Where I was stuck growing up without a dad and wishing I had one. My boys were surrounded by a grandma, aunt, cousins and great Grandmother. It helped the boys tremendously. Me and Warren too. Note: This to dad family raised three Heterosexual young men.
Even better was Urbana School District 116 2010 -2013
With my sister a Special Education Principal of an Elementary School in the district Ray Jesse and Kelton got special attention. This was the best education for three challenged young men I could have asked for. I became an advocate and PTA President at the High School. All three boys had IEPs. I became an IEP expert that would haunt CCSD many years later. PTA advocacy 101. Ray was blessed with one-on-one education in small special education IEP classes of less than five people. They made the hard part easier for Ray. Math between three boys in our house was a competition. Kelton and Jesse had the same Math class Kelton freshman Jesse sophomore year Ray was a senior. The Teacher stated my boys were three of the top math students at Urbana High school.
Urbana High School was the reason Ray can function in a competitive environment. Ray disability is keeping him safe. Keeping Ray making the right choices is hard. Ray is forever fifteen years old, and his life is about was makes him happy. Sadly, it does matter who it hurts. Love hate empathy all on a light switch. Ray can turn on and off at any time. Ray had one on one instruction and did great. Instead of paying his bills. Ray spent his money on supporting drug addicts for a place to stay. He purchases and broke three large screen TV. He has a Star Wars collection of paints, posters, bubble heads, and over 300 Video games.
Punishment by Rewards:
Rewarding met goals the boys set for themselves, and downplaying failures was the idea. Here where it creates a problem.
All the boys wanted a driver's License all had that opportunity in high school with the exception of Kelton. Ray started drivers' education class in 2010 and never passed the actual driver's portion of the class. Ray kept trying to pass.