In families that have a child with RAD there is typically a situation that is called, “triangulation.” In simple terms, it means that the child with RAD is two different people with her parents.
The child with RAD abuses (emotionally, verbally, physically) her adoptive mother when dad is not nearby and does so on many levels (directly or indirectly by hurting her other children, pets, etc.)
The important part here is that the abuse only happens to the mother and healthy siblings while the father is not around.
Dad never sees the abuse.
When mom tells dad what is really going on, he doesn't believe her—it’s not his experience. As the triangulation continues the father can begin to see his wife as the problem. He sees her becoming a helicopter mom—watching with eagle eyes everything the child with RAD does. He sees her trying to control the child. He does not know that that control is necessary to keep herself, her healthy children, and her pets safe.
This disbelief and, corresponding anger by his wife, causes a rift in the marriage. (The divorce rate in families with children with RAD is very high.)
This triangulation is, yet again, an attempt to hurt the adoptive mother.
Triangulation isn’t only a father thing—it can happen with the adoptive mother’s parents, grandparents, siblings, adult children, friends, neighbors, therapists, the county social workers, and at church, school, etc. Like any domestic violence abuse story, this isolates the victim (mom in this case) so there is no one to turn to for help.
Let’s imagine a newborn infant, a little girl for this example. Her little brain doesn’t know much yet but there is an expectation in the primitive part of her brain that her mother will care for her, feed her, hold her, look deep into her eyes and love her with every fiber of her being.
Many of us have that bond with our mothers.
When it doesn’t happen, when a mother instead neglects, abuses, and abandons her baby, a “primal wound” is created. When that child is adopted into a family, the new adoptive mother attempts to create a nurturing bond with her child. Sadly, these abused children can only see her on the same footing as the biological mom, assumes that the adoptive mom will be just as abusive, and will, without a shadow of a doubt, abandon her just as her biological mother did. To keep this bond from happening and in their minds, to stay alive, the child will do anything to keep their adoptive mom at bay.