In some countries, there may be whole generations in which the majority of people suffer from the inability to bond. Orphanages are full of traumatized kids who have never learned to love, kids who are so angry and afraid that they're unable to survive in a family.
Many of these kids, suffering from reactive attachment disorder, or RAD, could be healed, but only at great cost and with an extreme commitment of time and resources from their adoptive parents. Neurofeedback can help develop and change brain structures, while cognitive therapy, psychotherapy and unremitting attention and love can train the brain to respond to physical and emotional intimacy with soothing, healing oxytocin instead of the neurochemicals of fear and anger. Some day, I think, exogenous oxytocin will be administered as part of the therapy for RAD.
But these therapies aren't accepted as treatments for RAD, nor is there money available from social services.
Instead, too many kids will suffer the fate of a 12-year-old boy adopted from the Ukraine. According to a story by Mary Divine of the St. Paul Pioneer Press,
The troubled boy was adopted when he was 7 and brought to Minnesota from the other side of the world.
Four years later, his parents were saying they had given up trying to deal with the disturbing, sometimes violent, behavior his mother described: He broke his little sister's ankles. He killed animals. He ran away.
They tried and failed to have another family adopt him. Then they returned with him to Ukraine, where he was born. They left him at a psychiatric hospital. They said they would be back. And they never returned.
The boy was returned to Minnesota, where social workers are trying to figure out how to help him.
In general, parents who adopt do so "with their best hopes for their family and what can happen, and it's devastating when things don't turn out as they had imagined," said Tamara Kincaid, a social-services supervisor for the county. "Either the child has needs that the parents just don't have the capacity to meet, or the parents just aren't able to follow through with it."
But, she said: "We don't have lemon laws on kids. There isn't a return policy."
What should happen to these damaged kids? Should we continue to warehouse them in institutions, drugging them into a stupor so they don't harm each other or themselves? Should we ship them off to war when they're old enough?
What will happen when this little boy is put out on the street at 18?