Resource Round-Up: 22 resources & experts helping you survive reactive attachment disorder parenting
Updated: Apr 30
When my husband and I began the adoption process eleven years ago, I searched everywhere for tips to make our journey successful. The Internet wasn’t what it is today. I spent most of my time talking to actual people about their experiences (although I hadn’t a clue that we specifically needed reactive attachment disorder parenting advice at that time).
During my in-person “research” early on, I never heard anything negative about adoption. It was lots of “unicorns and rainbows” kind of stuff.
We had to take a few parenting classes for the adoption. I remember laughing because I already had two teenage sons. I didn’t think my husband and I had much left to learn that we hadn’t encountered already. But I embarked upon the parenting classes with an open mind.
I remember sitting among the other wide-eyed and optimistic adoptive parents in the class. The instructor told us that adopted children sometimes have a tough time with family closeness. But if we just love our kids and tell them we’ll always be there, the instructor said, everything would turn out fine.
So I prepared to do just that with our new son—love him and make him feel safe. It seemed logical, intuitive, and easy. We’d obviously do that anyway, I thought.
But nine years later, I sat in a therapist's office at my wit's end. Love hadn’t helped with my son’s bizarre and troublesome behaviors.
Although the therapist pinpointed reactive attachment disorder as the affliction, she admitted (thankfully) that she didn’t know how to treat it. I felt so much validation in realizing that I wasn’t crazy. Yet, we needed the next steps.
I began researching online.
I found very little on how to treat or live with the disorder. We continued to fumble ahead on our own for the most part. While my family made it through, we learned a lot the hard way. That’s why I’m a RAD advocate now—to help other parents prevent the pain and chaos my family experienced.
There’s still little information available today about reactive attachment disorder. Just as I found eleven years ago, there’s a lot of “unicorn and rainbow stuff” on the Internet too. However, the information available about reactive attachment disorder is much further along from where I started when we adopted my son.
My colleagues and I at RAD Advocates sorted through the resources available for reactive attachment disorder parenting today. Below are the resources we believe are worth your exploration (in alphabetical order).
Experts with a unique niche who can help you through reactive attachment disorder parenting:
Carrie O’Toole/Carrie O’Toole Ministries - Author and board-certified Christian life coach Carrie O’Toole works with families through the grief of reactive attachment disorder parenting and relinquishment, including couples’ retreats and parent coaching.
Lemonade Parent Coaching - Through her own first-hand experience, parent coach Theresa Sappenf helps caregivers parent kids from hard places.
Lifespan Trauma Consulting - Some children can effectively receive therapeutic solutions for developmental trauma. Yet, others likely cannot due to the severity of their disorder or other factors. Renowned trauma expert Forrest Lien, LCSW, helps parents decipher realistic and best solutions based on accurate reactive attachment disorder assessments (which are done remotely). He and his colleague also provide medication consultation accordingly.
RAD Advocates - As we believe strongly in our mission, we’d be remiss not to add ourselves as a valuable resource for reactive attachment disorder parenting. We are a nonprofit organization founded by women who adopted children with reactive attachment disorder. We have gathered the years of resources and advocacy skills we’ve collectively attained to share with you.
Helpful books and other media about reactive attachment disorder parenting:
The Boy Who Was Raised by a Dog by Dr. Bruce Perry - Through his research, Dr. Bruce Perry has been instrumental in integrating successful new modalities and practices into dozens of organizations serving maltreated children. He has authored several books including The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. His most recent multimedia book, BRIEF: Reflections on Childhood, Trauma, and Society was released in 2013.
An Unlit Path by Deborah L Hannah - This true and tragic story raises awareness of the risks and rewards of adoption and foster care. While not necessarily educational, this book can provide parents with the comfort of shared experiences.
Raising A Thief by Paul Podolsky - Paul shares his experiences of adoption to help readers grasp the immeasurable impact a primary caregiver has in the early stages of childhood. The content helps people understand why some kids bounce back from tragic adversities while others struggle for life.
Reactive Attachment Disorder: The Essential Guide for Parents by Keri Williams - Keri provides straightforward and helpful advice for those raising children with reactive attachment disorder based on her own experiences in a short and easy-to-read format. She also wrote Raising Devon; a non-fiction book based on her personal experiences. It is an eye-opening book to share with friends and family who do not understand the realities of reactive attachment disorder parenting.
The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. van der Kolk - Dr. van der Kolk is an expert on trauma and how it affects the brain, body, and nervous system. His explanations and insight are extremely helpful for caregivers and clinicians in understanding the breadth of developmental trauma.
“Troubled Child”, a.k.a. “The Boarder” - Inspired by true-life events, this movie gives an eerily accurate representation of how reactive attachment disorder manipulation and triangulation can tear a family apart.
When Love Is Not Enough by Nancy Thomas - Nancy and her husband share tried and true techniques for parenting children with reactive attachment disorder. The book has been an inspiration for thousands to help find hope, healing, and connection in their families.
Online resources for reactive attachment disorder:
Andrea Shindle - Andrea is a therapist who provides support to parents raising traumatized children. Her videos are informative in that respect and cover a wide range of related topics.
Break the Chains of Trauma - With a focus on giving clients a space to learn, heal, and be supported, the Facebook page is also a valuable resource for parenting children with reactive attachment disorder.
Chris Prange-Morgan - Author, speaker, and fellow trauma mama Chris Prange-Morgan certainly understands the impact of raising children with reactive attachment disorder. She suffered a life-altering injury under the brain fog of existential concerns surrounding parenting traumatized children.
Gina Heumann - Author and speaker Gina Heumann shares her family’s fight to get help for her son with reactive attachment disorder in her book Love Never Quits and on Facebook.
Honestlyadoption.com - Speakers and authors Mike and Kristin Berry provide a down-to-earth and easy-to-follow approach to parenting children from foster care and through adoption. They offer great advice and the intent behind their parenting techniques in their resources.
Keri Williams - Author, speaker, and blogger Keri Williams knows, first-hand, the challenges of raising traumatized children. Her blog and Facebook page offer support to families in the trenches.
Orchard Human Services - Founder Dr. Darleen Claire Wodzenski, Ph.D., LPC, NCC offers a great deal of helpful information about trauma and development for parents on the Orchard Human Service YouTube page.
RAD Sibs - Children with reactive attachment disorder are not the only people affected by the impact of trauma. The siblings they grow up with also garner their very own trauma and abuse. The RAD Sibs website helps those children understand they are not alone. In addition, parents learn how their “easy” children feel the impact of the disorder too.
Tracey Poffenroth podcast (COMING SOON!) - We are excited to partner with Tracey to increase awareness about reactive attachment disorder. Her podcast promises to be encouraging, entertaining, and educational. Stay tuned.
“Wretched” video - Todd Friel gives a glimpse of what life is like for those raising children with reactive attachment disorder. His video is helpful for parents to share with family and friends.
The reactive attachment disorder parenting journey is long and often lonely. But there is hope--even if your version of hope and success look vastly different from that of someone else. Demand effective help, grasp for understanding hearts and hands, and give yourself grace. You and your family are so worth it.
RAD Advocates can help you navigate parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder. Become a member.
*RAD Advocates does not endorse and cannot be held responsible for the entirety of resources included in this list. As always, we encourage parents to do their own vetting before utilizing any services or making purchases.