When to Hold and When to Fold

Part 3

by Dr. Nancy Spoolstra


For the third summer in a row I find myself compelled to sit down at the computer and describe my family’s experiences with children suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder. At the end of last summer, I wrote about our son Tony’s return to the group home after our second attempt to reintegrate him into our family. When he returned to Colorado last June, we were sad but resigned to the reality that as long as he refused to address his issues, it would be impossible for him to live in our home. Although Tony is now chronologically 14 years old, his 9 years in an Ecuadorian orphanage caused extensive emotional damage. As of this writing, he remains in the group home.

Our daughter Anchulee arrived from Thailand at the age of 21 months. She is now 10½ years old, and she has also struggled for most of her short life with issues of loss and abandonment. In my second article I described our family’s sojourn in July of 1997 to seek therapy from Dr. Martha Welch, author of Holding Time. It was a most positive and beneficial experience. Martha’s techniques allowed us to pull Anchulee through the summer in better shape than we had managed in the past. Holding time also strengthens the bond we share with our birth children, 14-year-old Adam and 11-year-old Laura.

Although we were extremely disappointed and discouraged at our inability to keep Tony in our home, we were not terribly surprised, either. We had long since learned that what we want does not always translate into what we get. We had already experienced an adoption disruption when the placement of a teen girl in our home proved unsuccessful. It was difficult for all of us when Tony left again, but it was most traumatic for Anchulee. However, she did a great job of recognizing how hard we had tried to make it work, and she had her own difficulties in living with him.

Anchulee started school last fall fairly stabilized and moderately motivated. She was incredibly fortunate to have landed in the classroom of the most astute teacher I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. (Anchulee might not have felt so fortunate!) For the very first time in years, I sent my daughter to school knowing the entire staff would hold her accountable and see through her games and manipulations. She certainly did not set the world on fire academically even though she was a year older than most of the other children, but she did fairly well. In fact, she was appropriate enough in her behavior that she also resumed dance classes last fall. Past attempts at dance and piano lessons had demonstrated poor effort and performance, increased control battles, resentment that money was wasted, and no apparent investment on the part of Anchulee.

For the first time we felt as if Anchulee was actually making some real friends. She played on a soccer team last fall, and although she again seemed noncommittal in her attitude towards extracurricular activities, she did enjoy the company of her teammates. We were pleased to see her invited to a few birthday parties and overnights. In the past, she had never invested in any relationships enough to be invited anywhere.

As a family, we were applying our hard-learned knowledge to other troubled children and their families. I had started a not-for-profit support and educational advocacy organization known as KC ATTACh. The group was growing rapidly and we were finding ourselves besieged by stressed out families looking for answers. Our policy of providing respite care (and a boot camp environment) for these children resulted in us having an extra child around quite often. While each child was obviously quite unique, they all had some striking similarities, and their families were remarkably similar. What the families had in common was the fact that they were all at the end of their rope. We found it infinitely easier to deal with someone else’s RAD kid than it was to deal with our own. Not easy, necessarily, but easier.

In November we were thrilled to receive a Family Service Award from Heart of America Family Services. We were honored for our work with RAD children and for starting KC ATTACh. The award ceremony was the Monday before Thanksgiving and we were able to arrange for Tony to be with us. Tony was appropriate and fun to be around during the entire visit. My parents also came, and we had a delightful holiday. I have to admit, one of the highlights of the award ceremony was my delight at seeing a high-ranking official of the school district that had so effectively undermined and belittled me. Considering they had debunked the very existence of RAD, how sweet it was to be receiving recognition for our work with RAD children. Perhaps not a very Christian attitude, but it sure did feel good.

Thanksgiving rapidly moved into Christmas and we made plans to spend the holiday with my parents in Colorado. Tony joined us on the 26th. He seemed glad to be there, and somewhat disappointed that he had not been with us on Christmas day. His attitude was wonderful, just like during the Thanksgiving holiday. We all had a delightful time. The pictures I took showed a relaxed expression on the faces of all the children. Tony drove home with us for a few days and then returned to the group home.

Anchulee’s birthday is the end of January, and for the first time she had real friends to invite to a party. We even discussed in advance her propensity to get out of control during exciting times, and she tried hard to maintain herself. In school, she persisted in her unwillingness to share any school information with me: grades, field trips, handouts, homework – whatever. I knew the school would inform me when grades dropped past a certain point, and I was equally at peace with their ability to handle her "stuff". For once I could sit back and let it happen….

It DID happen, around mid March, when she suddenly decided that she was not going to take in a current event assignment. It didn’t matter that she earned a weekly appointment with the principal and the opportunity to find an article in the principal’s paper. It didn’t matter that her friends looked at her as if she was nuts when she missed recess to make up the work she missed while visiting the principal. I informed her it was Dad’s and my duty to insure that she could eventually support herself, and clearly she was choosing NOT to do that with her brains; consequently, I would make sure she had the opportunity to do extra household chores to enable her to be the best housecleaner she could be. It didn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that she shut down to such a degree that she forfeited her spring dance recital after 6 months of lessons and a paid-for costume.

In April, I presented an in-service on RAD for the entire school staff. At the time we scheduled it, Anchulee was not overtly bucking the tide. She was, however, completely down the tubes by the time I did the presentation. My emotional difficulty in watching her once again wreck her life was evident when I spoke. I spend so much time trying to teach my children how to show emotions, I never hide my own feelings anymore. Because I love her so much, and I so often feel helpless and incredibly frustrated at my apparent inability to affect any change in her, I often show strong emotions when I speak about RAD. In my presentation I have slides of Anchulee that show the unkempt hair, nasty-looking-face persona that we so often see at home, sometimes for weeks and months at a time. Very few teachers had seen that side of my daughter. Even so, they had all done a remarkable job of recognizing her special needs and following through on accountability.

Nothing seemed to work to jolt her back to "normalcy", so we returned to some of Martha Welch’s suggestions. I moved all her clothes downstairs to my closet, and I adjusted my expectations to that of a 4-year-old. No decisions to make, nothing to stress over, no worries over what to wear that day. I find she is more interested in acting her age when it is her idea.

It was in March that we received our first letter from Kathlene. Kathy was the middle girl of a sibling group of 6 that we knew from our time in Indiana. We had become extensively involved with the 3 girls from late summer of 1991 until we moved to Kansas on January 1, 1994. Kathy and her sisters spent many weekends and holidays with our family. Their mom was an alcoholic and their dad had died. They were needy in many, many ways, although things had been significantly better for them before their dad had died. We had even attempted to obtain guardianship of them while we lived in Indiana, but we were unsuccessful. It was difficult to leave them behind when we moved to Kansas, but we made it clear to them that we would always be available to help.

Although I had heard from the other 2 girls several times, Kathlene had not written us at all. The news from the other two was usually dismal – the oldest girl had 2 children by the time she was 18, and another letter telling us that Kathy and her younger sister were in the Indiana Girl’s School. When Kathy eventually did write us in March of 98, it was, indeed, from the Indiana Girl’s School. Her letters stated that she had been there for the better part of the last year and a half, although she had been out briefly in the fall of 97. She had nowhere to go, no family members functional enough to take her. (Mom is one of 16 kids!) She was scoping out her options.

Her 17th birthday was in March, and soon after receiving her letter, the family piled in the van and drove to Indiana to visit her on her birthday in the Girl’s School. (Luckily it fell over Spring Break!) We started the paperwork to bring her to Kansas, but not before spelling out clear expectations of what would be required for her to live with us. I wrote some very strong letters, detailing where my family had been before, and where we would NOT go again. She agreed, and stated she was very interested in improving her life, getting a high school diploma, and having a family. (None of her sibs have a high school diploma or GED, even though 4 of them are older. The youngest girl has been out of school and on the run since October 97. She recently turned 16 years old.)

Kathy moved in with us in early May 1998. In many respects, she possessed a 17-year-old brain, which made processing things so much easier. She found it very confusing at the beginning trying to figure out the dynamics of Anchulee and her relationship to the rest of us. It looked, of course, like we were scapegoating Anchulee. However, as Kathy became the recipient of Anchulee’s maneuvers, the light bulb came on somewhat. Kathy had the most difficulty balancing her loyalty and concern for her family of origin with her developing feelings for my family and for me as her new Mom. She started the alternative high school program in the fall, and she attended KC ATTACh support group meetings. We obtained permanent guardianship of her in July, although we stipulated that there be some easy options available to us if things should rapidly deteriorate. In deference to our request, she was left on probation.

Tony’s Spring Break fell a week after everyone else’s. He came for a visit in March, and since the other kids were in school he spent most of his time with me. He was decidedly unpleasant, apparently a continuation of his current attitude in the group home. The group home mom was quite blunt in her description of his behavior prior to his visit. She had never seen him quite so nasty for such a prolonged period. Although he had somewhat of a favored position in the group home because of his long-term status, he was perilously close to losing it. When he left, mostly we just gave a sigh of relief. How depressing to realize that is the way one feels. It was especially disheartening because we had been so optimistic after his 2 previous visits in November and December. It clearly reminded us who holds the cards when it comes to an individual’s behavior.

Anchulee muddled along with little change until early June. We often attend Saturday evening worship, and on one particular day she had been her usual difficult self for a prolonged period. We have a special kid’s sermon, and she went up front when the children were called. The topic was about turning anger into joy, and sadness into happiness – letting the Lord work to make those changes in your heart. She came back and sat down, and her Dad and I about bored a hole into her, indicating we sure thought the topic applied to her! The thought was not lost on her either, for she squirmed quite uncomfortably in her seat. As the regular sermon started, it was even MORE applicable to her, and she knew it! Imagine my surprise when my Ice Queen reached out and touched both her parents, showing on her face that the ice was melting just a little. I scooped her into my lap, and she immediately started to sob. After the service, she and I met with our pastor, and then we prayed at the altar and my daughter asked Christ into her heart. It was a profound experience for her. She is still a very wounded child with a myriad of issues, but at least we now have the foundation of being able to talk about the fact that God does not make mistakes. She is NOT a mistake.

After that experience, Anchulee’s attitude improved significantly. Earlier in the summer, even while she was still a mess, we had decided to send her to culture camp. Personally, I was not all that convinced that culture camp was such a terrific idea, and I had some serious concerns about possible repercussions. (Translation: what does a week of successful manipulation of adults do to a RAD child?) However, I hesitated in letting my own biases get in the way of what MIGHT be a positive experience for her, so off she went in July. She returned home on a Friday. By Tuesday morning her behavior was so obnoxious that I did an impromptu holding and confronted her about what the heck she was doing! All weekend she had sent numerous clear but nonverbal messages that she desperately needed me to retake control of her. Because she had been in charge of her own clothes while at camp, I decided it was a golden opportunity to allow her to move her things back up to her room. The very same day she moved her clothes, she "forgot" to wear anything under her shorts!! She had to turn around and move her clothes back downstairs, where they remained until the start of school.

When I started the holding, I asked Anchulee point blank what was going on with her. At first she said that while she was gone she had not missed us at all. I said, "OK, fine. Now WHAT is going on with you?" Suddenly she burst into tears and said she had missed us desperately, and she never wanted to go back to camp again. She went on to say that when she "acted bossy and powerful", no one called her on it and she didn’t like how out of control that made her feel! I promised her that she was safe again and that she would not have to go next summer if she didn’t want to. It was a powerful and productive session.

In spite of the catharsis of the "camp holding", Anchulee didn’t regain the security she had before camp. A couple of weeks later, the family made plans to spend a week with my parents in Colorado. My folks stayed at our house a couple of days before we left to join them at their home. During their overnight stay, my whole family sat around our kitchen table and explained to my parents what the dynamics were with Anchulee. We explained that after 9 years of facilitating and encouraging Anchulee to make half as much investment in US as we made in HER, we were tired and disgruntled. What that meant was that while we loved her very much, we didn’t like her attitude at all, and we were not going to spend our vacation worrying about her. If she wanted to be a jerk, fine. We were not going to let her stinkiness slow us down, and she was not going to be doing much at all. She could read a book while we did the fun family stuff that she was thumbing her nose at. Basically, we told my folks that while Anchulee maybe had not changed that much, the rest of us had. We were taking a break from worrying about her. My parents struggled with that somewhat, but we left them little choice. They were instructed to keep their thoughts to themselves and let us "do our thing".

Prior to driving to my parents, we detoured to the Attachment Center at Evergreen to enable me to present at their annual conference. Once again, my emotions were on the table for all to see while I presented, for once again my daughter was a mess. I think some people were offended by my stance that there seemed to be little one could do to help someone who was not interested in helping herself. After I presented, I spoke to one of the therapists at ACE and confided that although I considered myself a child advocate, sometimes I didn’t feel very good about children. He completely understood what I was saying and how frustrating it was for me to feel so helpless. No one wants to give up on a kid, but unless the kid cares about himself, you’re spinning your wheels.

The first 3 days at my parent’s home went about as expected. Anchulee continued her pout and her victim stance, and the rest of us essentially ignored her. She did nothing and made no decisions. Tuesday night as I was putting her to bed I decided to sit and cuddle with her. Not that she was necessarily cuddle material, but she still needed to feel loved. It was like cuddling with a park bench. She was tied up in knots and very angry over how she was destroying her own vacation. She started to fight me, and soon we were in a holding. I had come to Colorado with absolutely no intentions of doing any therapeutic work, for I needed my own vacation, but I simply could not put her to bed that full of fight.

When my husband heard her yelling, he joined me upstairs. It was a classic holding, with Anchulee screaming that she hated us both! But how necessary it was, for the venom just came pouring out. Things took a distinct turn, however, when my mom came storming up the stairs and declared, "No more holdings in my house!" Apparently she had articulated to my other children that we were emotionally abusing Anchulee. I refused to allow my mom to stop what I knew my daughter needed, so we finished what we started. After Anchulee calmed down, we went downstairs together to talk to my parents. Anchulee explained that we were helping her, not hurting her. My mom did not want to talk to me, so I delivered a very clear message to my father. I told him I agreed that he and mom were well within their rights to decide what went on in their home and what didn’t. Having said that, however, I also stated it was up to my husband and me to decide what our children needed. I told him I could not promise "No more holdings", so if that was a problem for them we needed to know. I made it clear we would vacate their home if our decisions were uncomfortable for them. Lastly, I requested that he discuss this with my mom and get back to me.

By Thursday morning I had not received an answer from him, so I asked what they had decided. He told me he did not agree with what we were doing but was not going to prohibit us from doing it. I pressed him to be sure he was speaking for them both, and he stood firm that we did not have to promise no more holdings.

Anchulee was in much better spirits after her holding, and in fact was so appropriate that she was allowed to participate in family activities. Kathy, on the other hand, had a rough day on Thursday. It was hard for her to be around us all the time with no space to get away by herself. She missed some fun stuff on Thursday, and was pretty moody at dinner. She soon loosened up, however, as we made plans for all of us, grandparents included, to go to town and get an old-time picture taken. While standing in the parking lot in town, Kathy handed me a note she had written expressing her feelings and thoughts on the events of the day. (It was much easier for her to write her feelings than it was to talk to me.) I looked at it briefly and told her I would read it after the picture was taken. I DID read it on the way back home, and then gave it to my husband to read. We both felt there were things we needed to discuss with Kathy, so we called her upstairs after we arrived home. The other children, not wanting to miss anything, came upstairs with her. We were not planning on any big, intensive session; in fact, most of what we wanted to clarify involved the family as a whole, so we easily decided to include all the children in the conversation.

It started off as a normal family discussion, with my husband and me defining normal and appropriate ways to demonstrate caring and commitment to those you love and care about. We discussed Kathy’s lack of experience in those areas. It was a non-judgmental, nurturing and supportive discussion. As the conversation progressed, some of it applied to Anchulee as well. She was already well aware that she, too, had much to learn in those areas, and her awareness began to express itself in her response. I made a point of clarifying to her that although her actions often caused difficulties for the family, we still loved her very much; always have, always will. She declared that she was UNLOVABLE! Her response was genuine, not manipulative, and she truly radiated a message that she felt unlovable. We all hastened to assure her she was incorrect. We hugged her, or at least we tried. She began to pull away and fight our attempts to hug her, all the while sinking further and further into her private grief. I asked her if she felt she was unlovable because her birth mom had made an adoption plan for her. I was obviously right on target, for she really began to wail at this point. Inadvertently I had also struck a nerve with Kathy, for she, too, began to shed silent tears.

When we adopted troubled children, we were not AFRAID of emotional pain, but we certainly were inexperienced in identifying its roots and dealing with it appropriately. There are simply no words to describe how hard it is to watch the people you care about deal with rejection and abuse issues. If we could take their pain from them, we would, but the best we can do is comfort and reassure them as they address their personal grief. At least for that moment, Kathy accepted the comfort we offered although it was a very emotionally draining experience for her. Still, she clearly recognized the unconditional love we were offering, and understood that it was hers for the taking. If only it was that simple. Anchulee, on the other hand, continued to simply feel the grief and fight the love and support we extended to her.

We all were caught totally off-guard by Anchulee’s response. Never have we had a session where she accessed her grief totally on her own, with no catalyst from us at all. No one was angry or disgruntled with her; on the contrary, we had all noticed how much better her attitude had been since the holding Tuesday night. Her wailing was pure, unadulterated pain at the losses she had experienced, and the damage those losses had done in her life. We gathered around her and just held her as she cried. When it appeared that she was coming out of it, we sent the other children downstairs to prepare for bed. They were reluctant to leave, as they wanted her to know they loved her and were supportive of her, but we told them they should get ready and then come back upstairs. While they were gone she started arching her back, refusing eye contact, and re-asserting her opinion that she was not lovable. I had seen her in many states of grief, many states of awareness of her pain, and many types of resistance. I had never experienced such a mix of signals as we were getting from her at that time. All the while she maintained her "fight", she made no indication of wanting out of my lap. We were NOT physically restraining her at all, we were cradling and hugging her. It was at this point that my father burst through the door and angrily told us we had to stop, as we were devastating my mother. Anchulee looked up from her tears in surprise and shock at being told she had to rein in her emotions. She voluntarily quieted down somewhat, but we all resented the interference.

Soon Laura whirled in, for she had prepared for bed in record time so as to be there for the sister she loves so much. She asked Anchulee for a hug but was refused. Laura continued to ask, and eventually begged and broke down into heart-wrenching sobs. Laura desperately wanted a hug from Anchulee. It was very, very clear to Anchulee that we valued her very, very much, and she ultimately gave all three of us a wonderfully genuine hug. Kathy and Adam soon rejoined us, and they, too, were supportive of Anchulee and her place in the family and in our hearts. When it was all said and done, we felt extremely close to each other and we marveled at the progress that was made.

Clearly we were not going to be able to deal with our children appropriately while staying in my parent’s home, so we resolved to leave first thing in the morning. The children, however, had other ideas, and they clamored to leave immediately. They were uncomfortable with the overt disapproval of their grandparents.

It was not terribly difficult to pursuade us, and so we found ourselves packing at 11 PM. Anchulee stopped me and told me she wanted to talk to Grandpa but wasn’t sure how to say what she wanted to say. I asked her what message she wanted to deliver, and I found her response to be clear and articulate, so I told her to just repeat that to Grandpa. We approached him together, and this is what she said, "You guys want me to have a better attitude but you won’t let my parents do the things that help me to get better. They are not hurting me and I know they love me very much." I was amazed at how clear she was in her delivery, the conviction in her words, and her complete eye contact while speaking. I KNOW she benefits from our efforts, and I know SHE knows that too, but she still amazed me at how convicted her response was to my father. When he suggested that we should have waited until we left to deal with this, her immediate response was, "You can’t always keep your feelings inside you."

Although we had not planned on driving through the mountains at midnight, no one doubted that it was the right thing to do for us to leave. I love my parents very much, and I am extremely saddened by this event. Family relationships are vitally important, and no one is more aware of that than my husband and I. We are incredibly proud of our family and our children, as well as the difficult work we are doing. We have no apologies to make to anyone about the decisions we make or the methods we use. No where is there a family more dedicated to each other than ours is. That does not mean that we expect others to understand our methods, for we are clearly aware that many people are very, very uncomfortable with the concept of viewing or handling emotional pain straight on. I understand the depth of the commitment that is required to disassociate one’s self from the worry about what others might think. We have achieved that goal because we feel that our children’s needs are more important than the understanding of someone who has never walked in our shoes. It is because of the reactions of others that don’t understand that we, as well as parents like us, have essentially removed ourselves from the company of people who can’t or won’t understand what we are about. I know of many, many families split over this same issue. Is it an issue of trust or propriety? It really doesn’t matter in the long run, for we will do what we have to do. We trust what we are doing, and the issue of whether or not this is socially acceptable is not enough to prevent us from doing everything we can to heal our children. We love them too much to quit for someone else’s comfort.

Since that night, Anchulee has basked in the validation she received as a very important member of this family. She realizes that not everyone can handle her issues, and perhaps she appreciates her family a little more because they can. Her behavior since our return has mostly been loving and appropriate.

Anchulee’s awakening emotions after our Colorado trip were evident after a brief playtime at a neighbor’s home. This particular neighbor has daughters that are playmates for both my younger girls. Laura played over there frequently this past summer, but every time they asked for Anchulee to come over she was too much of a mess to go. When Anchulee was finally able to play at their house, she seemed reluctant to go and was apparently uncomfortable while she was there. Imagine my surprise when I was able to get her to articulate that she was embarrassed and wondered what they were thinking of her after her bad attitude! It was the very first time I had ever seen her give any consideration to what other people think. The start of a conscience? It was a moment to remember!

Tony visited us again in August. He was more appropriate in his behavior this time than he was in March, but we still found him provocative to be around. Our regularly scheduled family therapy session fell on the day he arrived. He promptly fell asleep at the beginning of the session, sending a strong message to the rest of the family. Later on, he initiated a conversation with me about why he blew out of our home last summer. He tried to say it was because he was so "stuck on himself". He seemed clueless that it had to do with a fear of emotional intimacy. When I again told him he was welcome to return home as soon as he addressed his issues, he shut down the discussion and went to bed. My husband believes Tony wants to be here to escape the mounting pressure and familiarity of the group home, not necessarily because Tony wants what our family offers. I am not sure. I think he has some attachment to me, but certainly not nearly enough to affect any change right now. We are waiting for his brain to mature and process things differently.

Kathy started the alternative high school program in mid-August. However, after her very first day there she told me she felt the student population was much too interested in when they were going to get their next cigarette break, and not interested in learning. It was her decision to transfer to the regular high school. By the time "Meet the Teacher Night" rolled around a few weeks later, it was evident to our family that the pressure of conforming 24 hours a day was getting to Kathy. Although I was not prepared for the events that would soon unfold, my instincts prompted me to write a brief letter to Kathy’s teachers, providing minimal background and explanations as to her presence in our family. I personally handed each teacher a copy of the letter.

Although I had not heard the first complaint prior to Meet the Teacher Night, the very next day one of Kathy’s teachers phoned me in distress. Apparently my instincts had been right, for in class that day, Kathy had cussed and kicked a kid’s chair, and generally showed her street side to the class. My letter prevented the teacher from being totally unprepared for this eventuality.

Things rapidly deteriorated from there, culminating in Kathy’s total defiance of our family and our rules. Even a weekend in respite care did not salvage the placement. As we had made it abundantly clear from the beginning, it was NOT going to be our family doing all the work. When given the option of moving to a temporary group home pending return to Indianapolis, or seriously owning and addressing her issues and continuing to stay with us, Kathy elected to quit and return to Indianapolis.

While I was attending the national ATTACh conference in Tulsa, my husband flew Kathy back to Indianapolis and attended court with her. She burst into tears upon learning she was to return to the Indiana Girl’s School. Most likely she will remain there until she turns 18. She does not write or call. We are so sad that she refused this opportunity to so dramatically change her life. Sadly, her 22-year-old brother now writes us from prison, where he will spend the next 7 or 8 years. The youngest girl is still on the run in Indianapolis, and the older sister is attempting to get her children out of foster care.

Kathlene’s departure had a predictable effect on Anchulee, who immediately went down the tubes again. She began blowing off school, hygiene—anything and everything that required accountability. The school held her ultra-accountable, and we pursued vigorous therapy at home to ride out the storm. She was as defiant as she had ever been during a therapy session that occurred while I was in Tulsa. However, upon my return, she seemed to settle down to a large degree, although she still is doing very little at school.

I am once again optimistic that Anchulee is moving in the right direction, and for now at least, Tony seems to be maintaining. I am so grateful for the group home mom. Just when I think I have a handle on Anchulee, she throws me another curve ball. The truth is that I know her better than she knows herself, so when she throws a curve ball it is to BOTH of us. I have come to realize that many times she IS seemingly powerless to control her own behavior. Clearly, my children are still teaching me about life, and I am still learning. I love my children very much, and I am so proud to be their mom. I am proud of my husband and his contributions to our unique family.

KC ATTACh has grown tremendously and is reaching many people. I am so glad I can be available to other distressed families. It helps to heal my own wounds when I can comfort another soul mate. Although there remain several large unknowns in our present existence, overall I keep myself focused on the fact that I am a very lucky mom.