Updated: Mar 2
Larry and Ann adopted their beautiful son, Matthew in 2008, when he was seven-years-old. Larry and Ann had a biological son, Patrick, close to the same age. Matthew was a long-awaited, deeply loved addition to their family. All three of them were extremely excited for his arrival. Larry and Ann had very limited info about Matthew’s history, only that he had suffered neglect and had been in orphanage care for approximately two years. They had taken classes, read books, done research and attended conferences to prepare for his arrival.
As soon as he entered their home, they recognized he was displaying many trauma-related behaviors. Matthew had many fears including a fear of bathrooms. When he was in the bathroom the door could not be shut and the shower curtain had to be pulled back to fully reveal space behind it. He had a fear of Larry, especially when he was in Matthew’s bedroom. Often, Matthew was hoarding food, overeating at a meal, followed by vomiting and then returning to consume more food. Matthew was hyper-vigilant, always tense with his muscles always “flexed”, rock hard. He was consumed by ruminating thoughts. On one occasion, he asked his Ann what he should do if she decided to leave him alone in the woods, overnight. Ann and Larry were deeply saddened and assured him that would never ever happen. He was diagnosed with RAD, PTSD, Depression and Conduct Disorder.
Larry and Ann continued to parent him gently and patiently. Seeking help from professionals, including their pediatrician and therapists. They encouraged him to take part in many sports as he loved them and excelled, which was so good for his confidence. Life settled down and he seemed to be doing so much better. Things seemed to be progressing in a positive way and Larry, Ann, Patrick and Matthew added two more, adoptive, boys to their family. The youngest of which had been diagnosed with an intellectual disability.
As Matthew hit the adolescent years, all the trauma issues came back with a vengeance. He had always struggled with an “I see it, I want it, I take it” mindset, but it became a serious issue as he started stealing cash from every source he could. Matthew would steal money from family, friends, the church collection plate, Larry and Ann’s bank cards, and he also engaged in near-constant shoplifting. He wanted cash and porn and nothing they did stopped him.
Life, for the family, became tedious as Matthew always had to be in an adult’s line of sight. When they went shopping, Matthew had to keep both hands on the shopping cart when they were in a store. They always had him return stolen items to store managers, apologize, and pay them back; sometimes even double. Matthew did not show any remorse and never learned from any consequences. He was already seeing a gifted Reactive Attachment Disorder therapist regularly, as well as a pediatric psychiatrist. Larry and Ann continued to parent him gently, but firmly, as they had been taught.