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Ep. 82 with Tracey Poffenroth Prato from RAD Talk with Tracey

By September 1, 2021July 31st, 2023No Comments

Video Transcript: Ep. with 82 Tracey Poffenroth Prato

Barb 0:00
In today’s episode, we’re gonna change it up a little bit. The next few episodes of The Secret Life of Entrepreneurs, we’re gonna start to talk about supporting ourselves. And even as business owners, we’re still people, we need support. So today’s guest is really coming at it from a different angle. We’re not going to talk accounting or marketing, we’re going to talk parenting.

Barb 0:27
Our guest today is a trauma informed life coach, and her business called rad talk with Tracy supports parents who are parenting kids diagnosed with something called rad. She’s a podcast founder and a host. So Tracy, let me stop talking. And welcome.

Tracey 0:50
Thank you so much. It’s great to be here, Barb.

Barb 0:52
It’s an absolute pleasure. So let’s start right at the very beginning. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Obviously, you must be a parent.

Tracey 1:03
I am a parent. Yeah, I have worked in health care for about 20 years. And then my husband and I adopted a sibling group two kids, parents, sister. And that threw me into my business and what I do now, so both of our kids have something called reactive attachment disorder.

Barb 1:28
So that must be what rad stands for reactive attachment disorder. Got it? Okay. Yep. And so, like, what is RAD?

Tracey 1:40
It’s a good question. I never knew about it. A lot of adoptive parents that go into adoption and adopt children don’t know about it, we found out kind of on the fly as we were parenting our kids. And so it’s, I’m looking up a definition because I won’t have a great one for you.

Tracey 2:04
But it’s a condition where infants or young children don’t form a secure or a healthy emotional bond with their primary caregiver. And so throughout their life, they end up becoming reactive to attachment where most of us would enjoy a hug and affection. These kids, their brains are actually rewired to react to it in a negative way. So they will push push away anytime there’s love and affection, or any type of, you know, close, intimate connection.

Barb 2:42
And one of the things that you and I talked about before we went live today, a number of these kids also have other diagnoses, which then kind of further complicate the issue.

Tracey 2:55
Right. That’s a great word for it Barb is complicated. Reactive Attachment Disorder is really complicated. Because what often happens, like you say, as children are diagnosed with other disorders, anything from attention deficit, oppositional defiance, and just a myriad of disorders. And it’s often because as parents going into the adoption, world, adopting children, you’re not prepared, you’re not prepared, because a lot of the caseworker the people in the adoption world, and therapists, this isn’t a really well known disorder. And so people don’t know about it, and they don’t know how to treat it. And so yeah, you just get into this, this situation where kids get different diagnoses until one day you land upon reactive attachment disorder.

Barb 3:54
Got it. So you know, of course, you and I connected because our daughter is adopted. And we’ve done a ton of research over the years to try to understand one of the things that we really see is trust. She’s not able to trust us the same way. We either see our biological son, or the same way as a parent that, you know, you just trust your parents, they’re, they’re looking out for your best interest, even if you’re mad at them. In your teenage years. You might not agree with them. But you trust them.

Barb 4:32
And so that’s certainly something that we’ve seen with her daughter over the years is to come home from school, and she’ll tell us a story. And she’ll relate to us that hey, like you guys, were actually right. Or you guys were actually telling me the truth when you explained this to me.

Barb 4:50
And I often marvel at that because I’m like, so you didn’t believe me when I told you that masks would be required or you know Like, really didn’t believe me. And so that’s something that I think, for a lot of parents, it’s tough to wrap your head around the fact that, you know, your kid might not trust you. Right? When you adopt it, so I’m just gonna go back in our adoption story and yours a little bit. When you adopted you said, you know, you didn’t know about this, you didn’t even know this was a possibility. How prepared in hindsight, how prepared Do you feel you were nevermind, the red part? Like, had you guys done your homework, done your research? Talk to a bunch of people? Had you done all of that?

Tracey 5:38
Definitely, definitely. Yeah, you know, I’ve worked in healthcare. And you just do all the things we did, we did our research, we, you know, the adoption process is pretty lengthy. And you go through a bunch of steps like filling out a safe survey, there’s home visits, there’s lots of opportunities to talk to the caseworkers. And there’s courses that you have to take.

Tracey 6:04
I mean, we really did it all. And looking back, you know, every situation is different. And not every child from adoption comes with reactive attachment. I just want to make that clear. But these kids, it happens because of trauma and that unsafe environment that you’re talking about and not having trust. And so then there’s this real need for control.

Tracey 6:28
But yeah, we were what we thought was prepared, looking back, not at all, I do know that there was a piece about attachment in our training, it was very short. And again, I think they skirted around the real deep issues, the real stuff that comes with it, where it just seemed like kids were having trouble attaching it was a happy ending story. You know, and to no fault of their own maybe like I say not, I don’t know, even if most therapists and providers out there really understand it themselves. So yeah, you know, I don’t think it’s purposeful. It’s just ignorance,

Barb 7:11
Right. And just based on the prep work that I was doing, for our show today, an attachment disorder could also happen in a biological child. So it’s not just because they’re adopted, but it’s a secure, and an insecure attachment. And so a child with an insecure attachment, who’s not able to trust their parent trust or caregiver, they make decisions in a really different way from a different viewpoint, right, then, and then a child who is secure in their attachment.

Barb 7:48
One of the things I remember reading, when we were preparing to adopt, was we did a little bit of reading on attachment. And in fact, we chose to adopt from Ethiopia. Because based on our research, attachment is something that’s really important in their community. And, you know, having done all this research and learned so much about the importance of that attachment, just little things like the mirroring that kids will do. Right.

Barb 8:17
And I remember when our kids were little and so you know, like I’m gonna say three and five or something like that. We were all brushing our teeth one night, because you know, mom would brush her teeth and then everybody else brushes for two minutes and Okay, the kids are learning.

Barb 8:33
Well, my son to this day, brushes his teeth. Exactly. Like I do the same pattern like everything, right? But our daughter who we did the exact same stuff with. She’s got a totally different pattern. She totally doesn’t want her own. Yeah, right. And, I’ve marveled at those activities a number of times. I’m using my husband a couple of weeks ago, the kids were playing a game of cards with their great grandmother. And I could see like both of their cards right so I can see my sons and I can see my daughters and I look at my sons and his are lined up the same way I line up my cards when I play a game right where there are lowest to highest and I look at my daughter’s I turned to my husband, I go Yeah, that’s got to be your lineup because that’s not my there was just there’s a hodgepodge.

Barb 9:26
There’s no order, there’s no three spades. But it’s those little mirroring behaviors that you never think about, but it leads to big stuff. So if, if, if a parent suspects or or wants to learn more about rad, like, what are they looking for?

Tracey 9:51
You know, that’s a big question. And I think mostly it’s the inability to answer Attach, you know, our kids, I can give some examples like our kids, when we first adopted if we left the house, you know, most kids, like you’re saying those behaviors. And if we left the house, there was no Bye mom, Bye, dad, if we came home, they would still stay coloring and not even lift their heads up and look, you know, sometimes the the, the issues are really obvious, you know, they might pull away, infants might even close our eyes, just those things to show that they are trying to get away from you somehow.

Tracey 10:33
Yeah, expectations and rules, really do the opposite. You know, following those big outbursts, for simple things, that’s kind of a trademark. So our daughter used to run away, when we asked her to go in her room, grab a load of laundry, and get her laundry done, or to do your homework.

Tracey 10:53
And, you know, everything circles back to that safety and trust, like what you were saying about your daughter doing things differently. They trust themselves, even though they aren’t capable of taking care of themselves. That’s the person they’ve had to rely on. And there is themselves and so their brain rewires for survival. So they don’t even often have that ability to understand or relate to people. And so, you know, they’re taking care of themselves.

Tracey 11:24
Our daughter has different patterns, too, because she only trusted herself. She did things her way. The inability to, you know, follow rules, expectations, just those typical things that, you know, most kids do, your gut kind of tells you that this isn’t we’re not bonding, you know, you had those, those red flags too.

Barb 11:46
So yeah, you know, and that’s so interesting to me, because I look at, of course, our daughter’s decision making process. And it’s very much based on her own experience, versus being able to take any input from the outside world. And I think that goes back to exactly what you’re saying where they trust themselves, right? And, and you get it like these kids have been abandoned in all sorts of terrible situations like it, you can’t help but just, you know, it’s a gut wrenching what they’ve been through. So understanding why it is the way it is. That’s not hard to do. But what do you do about it? Tracy? What does a parent move out?

Tracey 12:39
Yeah, get help as soon as you can. And, you know, the one thing that I’ve learned over the years, being Arad parents, and then going through our personal situation, reaching out for help, first of all, it’s really, really limited. I’m Canadian, originally, but now I’m living across the border and in the US.

Tracey 12:59
And, you know, it’s really, really difficult. I interviewed a woman who works with families, and has been doing this for 40 years in the world of rad, you know, and she gave me a stat that was really alarming in the US there were about in her opinion, I can’t remember if it was four or eight clinicians that were capable of really working with these kids and making a difference, and changing so that they could recover. And then there was about 8 million children with reactive attachment disorder.

Tracey 13:32
So the disparity there, it’s scarce, there aren’t a lot of services. You know, one to one therapy doesn’t work, you know, so if your child goes in with a therapist alone, and the parents aren’t involved, that is not going to work these kids, you know, again, they’re wired for survival, they’ll do anything to manipulate the situation to work for them. And so they’ll manipulate the therapist and yes, the therapist can be manipulated. And then it goes back to that trust where the child thinks, well, if I can manipulate you, then I’m not going to trust you either.

Tracey 14:09
So therapy, therapy for the parents, you know, separate but also therapy for your family. Brad’s specific therapy. There’s a lot of organizations. I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so rad advocates is one of the leading organizations right now, I would say in terms of helping families navigate and advocate for themselves in a systems kind of place.

Tracey 14:42
So you know, if your child is needing to go to a residential treatment center or a therapeutic boarding school, or if they’re coming home or you have meetings with insurance companies, I know that’s a US thing, but they really help navigate through that crisis, and they’re a great Starting point, you know, there are therapists, you just have to do your due diligence and finding people that understand rad, they know how to treat it, the family is included.

Tracey 15:13
And just getting help for yourself as a parent, you know, that’s kind of why I came about is because there’s a lot of there’s not a lot of help all around. But when there is help, it’s mostly for the kids, or parenting or families, there’s not a lot just for parents that are struggling with their own issues besides therapy.

Barb 15:32
So yeah. And it’s, it’s interesting to me, because just based on my research, here in Canada, we don’t like the rat diagnosis. So I’ve talked to a number of parents who, because their children were adopted, and they believe that their child has read, but our healthcare system won’t, won’t acknowledge it. Right, will not.

Barb 16:00
And it took some research on my part to understand why it took some understanding. But it seems like there’s almost some fear of the diagnosis. And I’ve heard some statistics about, you know, folks in jail, my phone won’t stop ringing. That’s a vote, you know, folks in jail, and how many folks in jail have an attachment disorder? You know, there’s degrees of attachment disorders, of course, but why would the mental health profession be so concerned about a specific diagnosis?

Tracey 16:38
It’s a good question. You know, we don’t have much luck here. Often people here in the US don’t want to call it by its name, because it’s not often if a child just has reactive attachment disorder, most insurance companies won’t cover that you need another diagnosis. And I kind of equate it in my career with dementia, you know, dimension or society’s a four letter word, because people don’t know how to deal with it.

Tracey 17:05
So we put them in lock units and have people looking after them. Now, it’s, it’s changed a lot over the last couple of years, and people now are ready to face it. But it was big and scary. And we didn’t know how to treat it. So it’s easier to not look at it, I think and, and I, I’m feeling the same way about reactive attachment disorder, and Canada, I have worked in the Canadian healthcare system to and I know, I love health care in Canada, but I will say that things move a lot, a lot slower.

Tracey 17:38
And, you know, I was working on a project, at one point that, you know, the equipment, it’s used here in the US and has been for years and years and years. So really, you just needed to purchase the equipment and get going. But in Canada, no, we had to do literature reviews. I mean, it’s been 12 years, and that hospital that I was working at is still not doing it.

Tracey 18:06
And so I can’t tell you what it is, I think there’s a lot of good and really wanting to research it and make sure that you know, you get the best outcomes. But it’s unfortunate, it’s unfortunate, because we do a real disservice not being able to help these kids. And as you know, early intervention in anything is ideal. So the earlier we can catch anything, so I don’t know why early intervention is very important in Canada, in other you know, disciplines.

Tracey 18:43
So, I don’t have a good answer for you, but it should be. And I do know, there are some resources in Canada, but the beauty of maybe COVID and now is we can reach across borders, not finding services where you can get online, and just start digging.

Barb 19:03
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. I think one of the things that healthcare everywhere faces is the brain is such a complex machine, that what works for one person isn’t guaranteed to work for the next.

Barb 19:21
And, you know, if we look at our daughter’s situation, based on everything her age that she came to us, it really should have been textbook, you know, a fairly smooth transition. Right? And absolutely, we have bumped into, you know, more than our share, definitely our share of challenges along the way, right.

Barb 19:46
And so, from a cost perspective, because there’s no surgery that we can do to reconnect pieces. And in most cases, there’s no pill That can be prescribed that says, here, if he takes this, you know, she’s gonna attach to it. So you’re really trying to fix something that we don’t necessarily understand as much as we’d like. And one of the things that I really like about what you talk about Tracy is, you know, that trauma informed coach, that trauma informed parent, when you approach parenting, from a perspective that losing your birth mother, at 13 months of age, that was trauma, one of the things that I often hear, and honestly, here’s my pet peeve, this is me, for a second, bring the number of times that I’ve heard people say, they don’t remember it, they were so young.

Barb 20:44
It’s exactly the opposite. They were so young that they couldn’t understand what was happening. And they just knew that it impacted their entire world. So when you hear people say that, when you hear them say, Oh, they were so young, they don’t remember or good for you for adopting these children. How do you respond to that? Because that’s my second favorite.

Tracey 21:12
Yeah, that is a hard one. Well, and you’re right, it’s stored trauma is stored in the body, and we can store it from those early days, I even had a hard time, you know, I went into adoption, as an adoptive mom, not thinking trauma, you know, trauma to me was war veterans or people from you know, sexual assaults or assault, you know, a plane crash, that’s what trauma was for me.

Tracey 21:39
And until, you know, I experienced it firsthand as a parent. So, you know, I can see that it’s hard to understand. But yes, it can happen that early, they’re not old enough to verbalize, you know, that frontal lobe and those executive functions aren’t developed by any means. So, but we store it in, in our body.

Tracey 21:59
And so it is remembered, and it does still come out. And that question about, I get it all the time, you know, it’s this, you’re doing such a wonderful thing. And, you know, to be honest, I feel selfish, I didn’t go into adoption. Wanting to save anybody, or do a good thing, I wanted a family, I’m going to be honest, you know, and that’s how we were able to have our family and start our family. And so and, and we’re often not doing a great thing, the system is very broken.

Tracey 22:33
And, you know, a lot of these kids shouldn’t end up in our homes, before they get help. And they should end up in our homes when there are services provided to the families and the parents to cope. But it just doesn’t work that way. But yeah, you know, I often feel guilty when people say that, and it’s a longer conversation to have that you can’t have in that moment to really explain it. But no, yeah, I think we’re just starting our families. And that’s what we want.

Barb 23:10
yeah, and then we kind of go from there. And, and, like any parenting journey, you never really know what you’re getting into. Right? That’s the beauty. Because if we know, we might think a little bit more, but no, like, this isn’t about Do you love your kid Do you need to love them more. This is about, you know, helping these kids build a solid foundation so that they’ve got a successful future. And that’s where, you know, it can be so, so challenging.

Tracey 23:40
While I when people say it takes a village, it takes a huge village for these kids. And you’re bringing up a really good point Barb is that it’s not a parenting issue. Often parents are judged, and we have to parent in a different way. If we parent our children, like most parents, do, you know the word neuro typical for a child that’s just a regular kid and a regular family, you know, they respond to things the way that they should, or we expect them to as we raise children, but you know, our children, when we have children with reactive attachment disorder do not at all, it’s the complete opposite.

Tracey 24:16
And so you really have to flip things. And when it’s so different from regular parenting, people don’t understand that we look strict, we look mean, but it’s actually what the children need. And so you know, there’s a lot of judgment on parents and about it, but you can’t love them, you know that we all go in thinking, well, if we just love them enough, the more time they spend around us and family and in these enriching activities and all the things that we do, because we do all the things. Yeah, it’s not enough. That’s not what they need to change their brain.

Barb 24:50
Exactly. Tracy, we’re basically at a time here for today. So just quickly, tell us if someone wanted to learn more, how would they Google you Where would they find you and your podcast?

Tracey 25:02
Okay, my podcast and my website is, you can check out the podcast you can apply to be a guest and share your story, whether you’re an expert or a mom or a dad or a parent, you can listen to episodes. And then I provide a lot of parental support services. It’s really not about parenting. It’s about you, the parents. So we have support groups and retreats. And then there’s individualized coaching. So

Barb 25:33
Awesome. Well, that sounds fantastic. So thank you very much for being with me here today. It’s the fastest 25-26 minutes of my week each time I do this.

Tracey 25:44
Yeah. It’s an issue that’s easy to sum up in that amount of time. But it’s been great to be here. Barb, thank you so much.

Barb 25:51
Absolutely. And thank you for being here. So if you’d like to be a guest on the show, please email me at, or reach out on Facebook or Instagram at above the fold. ca. Just a reminder, you can even post questions in advance of our show just on our Facebook page. So I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl. Remember, you work hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.

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RAD Talk with Tracey is about creating a better life for every parent raising a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Tracey’s mission is to provide RAD parents a place to be supported and heal.

Through her own life experiences and struggles with RAD, she has developed a trauma-informed coaching program with one-of-a-kind support, designed specifically for RAD parents. You won’t want to miss this episode!

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Barb McGrath’s been cracking the online code for nearly 20 years. She helps local businesses get to the top of Google with digital marketing training, web design, SEO, online reputation and advertising. Most importantly, she’s earned the trust of Google.Barb runs the only Google-approved agency designed to show you how to turn the online “stuff” into in-store buyers.If you depend on in-person customers, you need Barb’s step-by-step, online marketing plan to generate a steady stream of onsite buyers and make it rain money. She is the host of the Secret Life of Entrepreneurs, a local radio show and iTunes and Google Podcast.