This past Monday evening, our team had the privilege to attend Carrie O’Toole’s premiere for her documentary Forfeiting Sanity. Through the documentary, Carrie and her son Brendan share their family’s story, as well as that of two other families, who adopted children from the same adoption agency, the same Vietnamese orphanage, and the same room. These three families just happened to cross paths fourteen years later while living in Colorado though they had never met before. The three families share their difficult, decade-long journeys through parenting and the horrendous struggle about what to do to help their children heal and hold their families together.
Here are movie reviews from two of our therapeutic treatment parents, Jan Barber and Chris Roosma:
- How did the parents in the film remind you of families you’ve work with in the past?
Jan Barber, therapeutic treatment mom at the Institute for Attachment & Child Development: Many of the families Tom and I have worked with over the years have similar stories to the ones told in the film. Several of the moms with whom we’ve worked have actually become physically ill due to the stress caused in the home by their children with reactive attachment disorder. In almost every case, we hear that the parents were desperate for help and didn’t know where to find it for a long time. I hope the documentary will help desperate parents find help and hope.
Chris Roosma, therapeutic treatment dad at the Institute for Attachment & Child Development: There were many similarities with the parents in the film and the ones we have worked with over the past eight years with the Institute for Attachment and Child Development, not to mention with our own personal story. The film brought back a flood of emotions from times when my wife and I went through similar experiences with our own adopted children (read our story).
Here are the similarities I noticed between our families and those in the film:
- There was certainly the telltale theme about husbands who don’t understand or believe their wives about behaviors their adoptive children display while they aren’t present.
- Many parents I work with wait too long to seek professional help for their adopted children because they think, or hope, that their children will heal without assistance. Sadly, love is far from enough for kids with reactive attachment disorder.
- In all of the cases in the film and many parents with whom I’ve worked, their marriages were teetering on the edge of disaster. I constantly talk to parents about how their children can’t heal if their marriages are crumbling. Parents need to constantly communicate and work together, especially when raising children with reactive attachment disorder.
2. What do you wish the general population understood that this movie could help communicate?
Jan: I wish the general population understood that children with reactive attachment disorder frequently manipulate situations so that their parents appear to be the ‘disordered’ ones. Children with RAD are difficult to raise. The lack of family, community, and school support adds to the stress already placed on parents.
Chris: My hope is that this film will continue to spread the dire message that people NEED to educate themselves before they adopt. In the film, all of the parents wished that the adoption agencies had been more forthcoming about the condition in which their adopted children lived. Adoption agencies often withhold or give inaccurate information so as not to interrupt the adoption process—an obviously unethical practice. Adoptive parents need to ask lots of questions. Any hesitation or resistance on behalf of the adoption agency is a red flag.
3. What audiences do you think need to see this movie the most?
Jan: Parents with children who have RAD need to see this movie to know they are not alone and there are ways they can receive help and support. Teachers, pastors, church members, friends, and families of parents who have children with RAD should also see this documentary if they are open to learn.
Chris: The whole world needs to see this documentary, especially governments/congress. Our children represent the future of our world. The drain and strain that kids who grow up in orphanages have on our world economies is staggering. Add reactive attachment disorder to this equation and it becomes down right frightening. I think this movie would surprise a great many people and open their eyes to a world that they probably didn’t even know existed.
If you’d like to watch the preview of Forfeiting Sanity and/or buy a copy, please click here.