I’m lucky you guys saved me from the destructive path I was on. Because I don’t know what would have happened to me otherwise.
– Jimmy, Client
Our clients have shared their stories with you here. If you’d like to speak with one of them directly, we’re happy to connect you. Just let us know.
Dear Institute family,
What you have done for me supersedes what I thought was possible, and has changed my life. I would like to say thank you to the faces who greeted me at the beginning of this great journey. I appreciate everything you have done over the past months; such as, listen to my story, seen me for who I am, properly diagnosed me, and given me presents from the warmth of your heart. You have chosen to stand by me in the worst time of my life, and for that I am truly grateful. Although I appreciate the gift that you gave me for my high school graduation, you have done something during this time that I appreciate more than any present. So thank you for all you have done, and for helping me to begin to understand myself, even on my worst days.
With much gratitude,
Dear Forrest, It’s almost a miracle that we found you and the Institute for Attachment and Child Development. I had almost given up hope of ever having a relationship with Danielle. I have to believe there is a great plan and things are happening as they should. You really have a gift. You are the only person we’ve encountered that actually thoroughly understands what’s going on and the only person who “tells it like it is.” Your program has transformed Danielle and I have every reason to believe that she will become a successful adult. I wish ever adopted kid with RAD could have the same chance. I’m so glad we were luck enough to get helped by you. Thank you so much for the many hours you give and the hundreds of miles you travel to help these kids and families. Words can not express how grateful I am to you! Sincerely, Michelle
We adopted Jordan when he was 2 ½ years old. By age 7, he was diagnosed with bi-polar and attachment disorder. Though we attempted many times to get someone to work with us, nobody seemed to believe the challenges we had with Jordan. Jordan spent two separate times at our local mental health facility for behavioral interventions. He spent weeks at a time there but it didn’t help. Afterward, we had multiple encounters with our police department, mental health “experts”, and some contact with social services. It got to the point that Jordan was sentenced for attacking his father with a computer laptop battery. After that instance, he somewhat successfully got through a 6-month diversion program, but shortly thereafter his behavior only escalated. After Jordan returned from the residential treatment program, Jordan tried to choke one of his pets. We admitted Jordan to the ER. At that visit, we finally ended up with all the right people. The ER doctor demanded he not be sent home and our Social Services Department representative knew of the Institute and Forrest Lien. All the pieces fell in place and Jordan went to the Institute. We saw changes almost immediately after Jordan lived with Jared, the foster dad at the Institute. Jordan became a different child. Today, he listens more and is respectful. He knows when he has done wrong and turns his punishment inward. We have found he needs to be alone to get though his self-anger. After working with the Institute, we now know that typical parenting techniques do not work with children with attachment disorder. We finally understand his moods and what works. It was incredible to shadow an Institute foster mom for a day. To see the program in action was the best training we could have gotten. It is hard to retrain yourself when you have had the same parenting methods for over 30 years. But when we can be totally consistent with the things we have learned – and have worked hard at retraining ourselves, we see remarkable differences in both of our kids. TOP OF PAGE
Life with a child with attachment disorder is overwhelming. To find help is just as difficult and tiring. My husband and I adopted our daughter from a foreign country when she was 16-months-old. At age 3, her problems began. Our daughter became violent toward me, my husband, and the other children. Even transporting her in a car was dangerous. On several occasions, she got out of her car seat and tried to attack me. In public, my daughter threw tantrums and screamed that we were hurting her. Everyone could clearly see that we weren’t even touching her. She slept about three hours a night and destroyed the house in the middle of the night. She got into her siblings’ rooms, the refrigerator, the pantry, and our room. I feared she would hurt herself as she rummaged through our kitchen drawers. As a solution, we put locks on the pantry and refrigerator and locked the knives away. Her siblings locked their rooms. We were prisoners in our home. We took our daughter to a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with ADHD. He put her on stimulants. This made her more violent. When our daughter was five-years-old, we went to the Institute for Attachment and Child Development. The psychiatrist at the Institute diagnosed her with early onset bi-polar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and reactive attachment disorder. On top of her mental issues, she also has profound hearing loss and wears hearing aids. Our daughter went into a therapeutic foster home through the Institute. During that time, my husband and I time realized how exhausted we were. We had time to recuperate. During that time, we worked with the therapist and foster parents and learned valuable tools to deal with our daughter in a positive and constructive way. We learned how to help her feel safe and keep her safe. At this time, her RADQ score was 98. We have continued to work with the Institute for the past six years. We went for tune-ups with the therapist and continue to work with the psychiatrist. We consider the Institute a part of our extended family. Our daughter is now 11-years-old. Her current diagnosis is mood disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and pervasive development disorder (which is on the Autistic Spectrum.) Her current RADQ score is 33. Our daughter is now a grateful child. Although I would in no way call our life normal, she is no longer violent. I receive about 20 hugs from her a day and not a day goes by that she does not tell me several times that she loves me. When she comes home from school she tells me that she missed me and I get yet another hug and kiss. She is very happy and good at expressing her feelings with words. She learned this from her therapist and foster family and then we continued it in our home. Our effective parenting techniques now come naturally to us although we had difficulty at first. While I don’t adhere to or advocate all the attachment therapy techniques that people do, I do closely follow and advocate strategies at the IACD. Their philosophy is to allow children to be responsible for their behavior and teach them to be respectful of others. This is done in a loving, structured environment in which a child can feel safe and learn to express their feelings with words instead of actions. It saddens me to hear that people who do not live with a child with attachment disorder call all attachment therapies wrong and destructive. Families living with children with attachment disorder or a child like ours with multiple disorders need help. If you have a child you suspect may have attachment disorder, be diligent and research for yourself, but find help for your family. You do not have to live like a prisoner and your family does not have to live a violent, destructive life. There is good help. It will take work on your part and your child ‘s part, but it is worth it. Our daughter is proof that living with a child with attachment disorder can be successful! TOP OF PAGE
My husband and I felt lost. We were confused and desperate to find help to save our boys. We wondered what happened to the animated, playful, happy boys we adopted at ages 2 and 3. They used to love to take long bike rides with my husband, snuggle with me to read bedtime stories, and enjoyed their family. It seemed almost overnight that our boys were out of control and in danger. At ages 11 and 12, they were running the streets. They used drugs and alcohol, stayed out all night and slept in abandoned houses, shoplifted, and skipped school. They had lost any regard for our parental authority. They presented far beyond typical adolescent behavior. We knew something had gone terribly wrong. We searched day and night without success to find someone, some agency, or knowledgeable person to help us understand what had happened to our boys. Finally, a graced conversation occurred. Claire, from the Institute for Attachment and Child Development, had returned my call. I will never forget how she listened empathically. For the first time after so many calls, I had finally found a heart that understood what we were going through. I remember her patient discerning questions amidst my frantic tears. I remember her assuring voice conveying the ways the Institute could provide treatment and help for my sons. Later that day, the IACD Executive Director Forrest Lien also spoke with me. Their quick and empathic response conveyed to me that the Institute staff really understood our situation. Both our sons received treatment at the Institute within a few months. They found relief from their suffering with medications prescribed for mood disturbance. They also received therapies to address issues of disrupted attachment. The expert staff at the Institute gave us tools and insight to heal and find stability in our home-finally. Hurt children take a long time to heal. We incorporated the therapeutic parenting concepts we learned from IACD and had much progress after their treatment. Naturally, however, the road of recovery continued to have its’ ups and downs. Ultimately, my husband and I made the choice to move our family from Las Vegas to the Colorado mountains to be close to the expertise and support of the IACD team. After a year and a half in Colorado, our once completely out-of-control sons are making steady progress toward adulthood. Our 17-year-old is a student at Job Corp. Our 18-year-old completed his GED is taking pre-college classes at the local community college. We have no illusions that our sons struggles are over. The sad truth is that children with early trauma spend their lives recovering. The treatment from the Institute provided us the foundation of healthier family relationships—the guide for our sons when they struggle. The Institute is the beacon of light for families like ours—parents who search desperately for help to literally save their children and families. The treatment parents who foster with IACD have been through similar struggles themselves and are deeply empathetic and committed to other families who search out the IACD for help. My time here has confirmed what I have felt since my first visit a few years ago. For the staff here at the Institute; this work is more than just a job, it is a vocation. As one treatment Dad explained when I was concerned that his help with our sons was becoming too burdensome, he said, “This is what we do here.” The treatment families and staff work together. Their camaraderie not only makes the tasks at hand sustainable. Hurt children in their treatment model feel a sense of family that plays a role in their healing. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of a unique community who care for some of the most hurt children in our society. My hope is that this work is strengthened to continue. Little by little, people will learn about children with disrupted attachment. Knowledgeable people and effective treatment will become more accessible for families who suffer these hardships. Families will no longer have to feel isolated and alone in their journey to find effective and compassionate treatment for their suffering children. That is my hope. TOP OF PAGE
Before our son Nicholas visited IACD, he was destructive toward everything, including himself. He argued excessively, refused to listen to others’ suggestions, received poor grades, lied chronically, and stole. He was anti-social, extremely anxious, self-centered, and had a distorted thought process. We had exhausted all financial resources and options and had no patience left. Finally, we found IACD. The Institute diagnosed Nicholas with pervasive development disorder and treated him for two months. Since his return from IACD, Nicholas is more respectful, argues less, listens to others more often, and is more honest and calm. We appreciate the help and support IACD has provided Nicholas. Without your help, Nicholas may have ended up in a group home. Before IACD, we had nowhere else to turn. TOP OF PAGE
Jimmy, age 18, had 55 previous placements in foster care before the IACD program. Dear Mom Konnie and Dad Clay, I would just like to say thank you for allowing me to live with you and taking care of me. I know that I was not the best kid you have seen but I know you loved and cared about me. I know things where bumpy at times but we learned from our mistakes and moved on because we knew things would get better. we could joke around because we hade a good bond between us. and then there were times to be serious. I just wish we could get closer then we did but we did a pretty good job. I just want to say we did a good job as a team and I am proud to say I love you guys so much. if I could make one wish it would be to do it all over again because you made living there ez and fun. this is the first placement I have succeeded in and it is because you do a good job at being the best of parents. I would say it was very hard at times but I would shout to the world that this is the best program to be in. it helps to know I got some one watching my back and a support system to count on. I hope we still have a relationship after I discharge because you are an inspiration to me to keep moving and to never stop what I do. mom konnie, you just keep joking with your new kids because it helps a lot! dad clay, you keep heading kids in the right direction and never stop challenging kids to do there best! make sure we keep talking because I wont stop thinking about you guys and I hope to share my story to other kids to help them. I’m lucky you guys saved me from the destructive path I was on. Because I don’t know what would have happened to me otherwise. I wish I hade more to say but all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart. From, Jimmy Ps xoxoxo endless love TOP OF PAGE
After 13 years with our adopted daughter, we considered relinquishing our parental rights. The issues we had with her were endless—too much to include in one paragraph. After many years of unsuccessful therapy, hospital stays, behavioral treatment centers, doctor visits and even juvenile court system involvement, we made the decision to try one last place—The Institute for Attachment and Child Development (IACD). From our first call to IACD, we felt like we were no longer alone. The staff was very understanding, compassionate, and supportive during the registration process and treatment. The family therapy was more than anything we had expected. The treatment we received was excellent. IACD does NOT practice any re-birthing or forced holding/restraint techniques that have been so controversial or publicized. We can attest that IACD’s therapy and parenting approach is excellent, relevant, gentle, non-life threatening; but positively life changing for the entire family. Our experience during the therapy session was so positive that in time, we went to work for IACD as Therapeutic Treatment Parents. One might conclude that we have had the positive experience of being on both sides of the fence. We have had the pleasure to work with the professional staff of IACD to help our daughter and many other families whom have come for help with stories similar to ours. We have come to admire and respect the psychiatrist, Director Forrest Lien, as well as the other therapists and staff working for IACD. The professionals at IACD have the highest regard for the families and children whom come from all over the USA seeking help. We would recommend the Institute to anyone who is struggling with difficulties that may come with adoption. TOP OF PAGE
The Russian translator told us, “The first six months will be hell, and then you’ll be happy family” as we adopted 3-year-old Nadia and 10-month-old Alex. Nadia and Alex were not biologically related, but we wanted to adopt two children at the same time. We fell in love with them. Six months turned into six YEARS of hell. Nothing we did worked for Nadia including, Dobson ‘s Strong Willed Child and Dare to Discipline. I was even attempted to call the Super Nanny (she would have probably run too as our babysitters had). My husband ‘s family did not understand how such a “charming and loving child” could be such a problem. “Must be a parenting problem,” they said. After months of testing and therapy with no answers, our local therapist, Jane Baker, recommended that we contact the IACD. The thought of intensive therapy seemed radical, but we were at our wits’ end. The second half of the intensive was held at the Institute in Colorado. After Nadia sat on her hands during her therapy sessions, we reluctantly decided to keep her there with the therapeutic parents. We visited her often for sessions, and she visited us twice in Alabama with her treatment “mom” as her escort. We learned more about why Nadia acted the way she did and what happened to her in the first few years of life. She had the “Trifecta” Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Bipolar Disorder, and sexual abuse. Forrest Lien, Director of the Institute, and Nadia’s therapist, Beverly Baker White, helped my husband and me see how Nadia was able to bring our childhood baggage out of the closet. We had our own adult therapy and were able to work through issues we did not even know existed. The purpose of this was to have a stable home for Nadia to come home. Eighteen months passed and we cautiously brought Nadia home. She came home on six medications. Today she is well maintained on two drugs. It has been over a year now. Nadia is in the fourth grade. She is an average student with excellent behavior. She is getting the academic help she needs with her IEP in place. Nadia enjoys competitive ice-skating. She even competed in a mother-daughter program where she let me lift her in the air and spin her around. (Before she never used to let me comb her hair!) I am happy to have my family back. There are still bumps in the road, but whose life is perfect anyway… TOP OF PAGE
As a licensed professional counselor, I believe in and advocate for your treatment model. I have seen first-hand the progress kids have made under your treatment. I have 10 kids on my caseload who are doing very well under the direction of Forrest Lien, IACD Director. They have committed parents and are consistent in their treatment. Some people keep changing techniques and are unsuccessful. I have kept with you method consistently and seen great results. Thank you! TOP OF PAGE
Our boys, ages 2 and 3, came into our foster home after multiple foster placements and neglect. We fell in love with them and adopted them shortly thereafter. We didn’t have major problems for years. When our boys turned ages 12 and 13, life changed dramatically. The boys were doing drugs, smoking cigarettes, putting holes in our walls and destroying property, and sleeping in foreclosed houses. Our oldest, age 13, ran away from home. We had no idea where he was for 30 days. Meanwhile, our younger son had extreme problems. Twenty neighborhood parents had a meeting because their kids had told them that they had frequent problems with my son. They met with the police. We were also traveling to juvenile hall to pick up the boys on a regular basis. One female police officer said to me, “If you’re not man enough to beat these kids up, I’ll hold them while you hit them.” We went to many good and recommended counselors, but none of them were aware of attachment issues and how to deal with attachment disorder. We didn’t where to turn for help. The boys’ behavior continued to escalate. The boys were both arrested for breaking a sliding glass door and entering a foreclosed home. Our younger son was placed in a six-month program at a behavioral hospital. Our older son entered the IACD treatment program. There were many miracles at IACD in Colorado. The staff was professional, and taught us how to parent our children effectively. My oldest son went through a significant transformation in Colorado and has progressed every week thereafter. I would recommend this program to anyone with children with attachment disorder issues. Our younger son was in the behavioral hospital six-month program which did not help him. The staff there didn’t address the root causes of his need for control. We were disappointed that the State of Nevada paid much more for this 6-month program that didn’t help but were unwilling to pay for the Institute for Attachment in Colorado. Our younger son eventually went through the program at the Institute as well. Both boys have made significant progress. The Institute started our process of recovery as a family and our local therapist who specializes in Attachment Disorder helps us make steady progress. A year and a half ago, our family was totally dysfunctional. Now, thanks to the Institute for Attachment and Child Development our children are both in by 7 p.m. every night, our older son is getting all A’s and one B’s in school, and we do things as a family. Prior to the Institute, the boys wouldn’t even join us on Thanksgiving or Christmas. Without the Institute, our boys would certainly be on the streets by now and headed for a life in and out of juvenile detention and later prison. The Institute saved our family and our boys. TOP OF PAGE
Dear Forrest, As you may recall, we adopted our son, Michael, when he was 8-years-old. At the time, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He also appeared to possess some level of attachment issues although not diagnosed as such. He was significantly delayed in his schooling and social attachments. His medications were prescribed to treat the ADHD and his/our counseling and or parenting techniques were tailored to address attachment type behavior. The effects of his counseling at that time didn’t last. The dynamics in our home, in retrospect, seemed to work against his progress. Unfortunately, over time, his behavior and choices grew more self-defeating. His behavior was slowly tearing away at the fabric of our family as well as destroying our marriage. He harmed us, himself, and our pets. We became desperate and decided to place Michael in a residential treatment program for troubled teens. We knew they’d keep him safe until we decided what to do next. Shortly before his placement, he turned 13-years-old. The residential treatment program taught discipline and accountability with a point system that elevated the resident to various levels and corresponding privileges. He also received weekly one-on-one counseling and anger management classes from an outside counseling practice. He certainly did appear to follow the rules and seemed to make some progress. However, he consistently sabotaged his progress as soon as he reached higher-level status, assumed more responsibility, and less structure. We began to feel that the residential treatment methods didn’t address his underlying issues. The results felt more like a “band-aid”. After further research and a recommendation from another parent, we found your program. Once Michael arrived at IACD, he was placed with a therapeutic family in advance of any intensive counseling therapy. Throughout Michael’s stay at IACD, the therapeutic family worked very closely with the staff at IACD. This was a great benefit for all of us and helped Michael become comfortable with his new surroundings and made him feel more “at home”. The IACD psychologist diagnosed Michael with reactive attachment disorder, bipolar disorder and Aspergers. Michael began medication for his bipolar disorder. The therapeutic family used techniques that helped Michael feel safer and helped him begin to overcome his conflict. We received training in these techniques so we could reproduce the same or better results once Michael returned home. The intensive counseling therapies that you performed on Michael helped him to better understand his “failed” relationships with his birth parents and how he was in a better place with his adoptive parents. Michael, also, began to gain an understanding of the disorders that he was diagnosed. Since Michael has returned home, we have continued to use the parenting techniques that we were trained to use. These techniques have progressed Michael’s success and established sanity in our family. As was strongly required by IACD, Michael sees a counselor that specializes in attachment disorder and uses the same approaches in treatment as IACD. We have recently started neuro-feedback therapy for Michael. We have been very pleased with Michael’s progress since his return to our home from IACD. We are extremely thankful to you and the staff at IACD and the therapeutic family. The IACD family still supports us so Michael can continue to succeed in life and making positive choices. TOP OF PAGE
Seven years ago, we accepted a foster child with Denver County. We were his sixth placement. He had his 7th birthday a few days after coming into our home. TS was extremely oppositional and defiant. He threatened to kill my wife and the children in our home. He attacked my wife several times—he hit, kicked, scratched and bit her. He occasionally physically assaulted another child in our home. He banged his head against the floor, wall, and his wooden bed frame frequently. He threatened to kill himself multiple times. We had to restrain him for his safety and the safety of others in our home. The school placed TS in a classroom for children with behavioral issues. There, he attacked his teacher, ran across desktops, knocked them over and threw books and other items around the room. He crawled under desks and refused to come out. He ran out of the room and building often. Eventually, TS went to a residential treatment facility. There, he continued with the same violent and aggressive behaviors. They had to restrain him 30-40 times each month. Eventually, we were contacted and asked if we would take TS back. He agreed but only on the condition that TS complete attachment therapy first. After nearly five months of treatment and family therapy through the Institute, TS returned to our home. Now, TS is doing well in a public school setting. He works very hard to be a “family kid.” His behavior is not perfect but is drastically improved from the time we lived him before. We plan to keep TS in our home until he is an adult. He will always be part of our family. TOP OF PAGE
Dwight and Elizabeth couldn’t understand what was wrong with their daughter. When they adopted her at 20-months-old, Rachel, they were overjoyed to bring their baby girl home. Life in their house—mom, dad, and three kids—was typical for about seven years. Then one day, their baby girl suddenly changed.
HER SUDDEN TURN
Rachel, age 9, was out of control. She lied constantly. She ran away from home often. She screamed and yelled and punched holes in the walls. She turned over beds and desks. She physically abused her little brother. She began to steal from her own home. And she didn’t feel any remorse for her behavior.
A LONG PATH TO NOWHERE
Elizabeth turned to the county mental health agency. They told her that her daughter had a conduct disorder. They sent Dwight and Elizabeth to parenting classes. They sent Rachel to traditional therapists. Things only got worse. Rachel’s lies became more elaborate. And the therapists, school officials, and police were an attentive audience. Rachel told her school that Elizabeth threw her down the stairs and kicked her. She said that Dwight tossed her into her room against a metal bunk bed. She was so convincing that the school had an ambulance take her to the hospital. The doctor found nothing. The police investigated Elizabeth and Dwight for child abuse. They also found nothing. The Holmes didn’t feel safe in their own home. One day, Elizabeth fell asleep on the couch. She felt a strange sensation and awoke to Rachel standing over her, watching silently with an eerie look in her eyes. They worried about their youngest son alone with Rachel. They were desperate. Once again, Elizabeth turned to the mental health agency for help. They only suggested more parenting classes.
AND HOPE JOINS THEM
Finally, social services directed Elizabeth to the Institute for Attachment and Child Development. The summer day that Forrest Lien arrived at their home, their lives changed. Forrest, Director of the Institute for Attachment and Child Development, sat with Elizabeth and Dwight in their living room. They talked. Forrest listened. For the first time ever, Elizabeth and Dwight felt like someone understood them. “For once, someone didn’t look at Dwight and I like we were bad parents. Before Forrest even met Rachel, he already understood her. He understood her through my eyes.”
A NEW DIRECTION
Rachel entered the Institute for Attachment and Child Development program. The Institute team worked with Elizabeth and Dwight, rather than against them. Together, they created a comprehensive plan specifically for Rachel. Finally, the Holmes family had a team on their side. On Rachel’s side. Rachel went to live with Linda, an Institute treatment mom, for three months. She was embraced as family in Linda’s home. But in this home, Rachel’s manipulation, lies, and theatrics did not work. Linda and Rachel developed a relationship. Rachel learned about herself and responsibility. She began to feel safe under the close care of Forrest, Bev, Dr. Collins, Linda, and her parents. She could finally let down her guard. She let people into her life. For the first time ever, Rachel responded to treatment. After three months, Rachel wanted to come home. She wanted to come home—rather than run from it. Rachel came further in three months at the Institute than she had in two years in the mental health system.
Things are different for Rachel these days. She tries to do what is right. She told the investigator that all of the accusations against her parents were lies. She doesn’t hurt her brother anymore. Instead, she looks out for him. She gets good grades. She enjoys choir at her school. She has friends for the first time. Her school counselor called the other day with only good things to say—Rachel is a positive influence for her peers. And Elizabeth and Dwight have their daughter back. “We were waiting for an appointment today,” said Elizabeth. “I was lovingly poking Rachel as we sat. She grabbed my hand and didn’t let go. We sat there, her hand in mine…for fifteen minutes. We never had that before. We had no bond, no togetherness. Now we do.”