From the Cover of Rescuing Julia Twice by Tina Traster:
In moving and refreshingly candid prose, Rescuing Julia Twice tells Traster’s foreign-adoption story, from dealing with the bleak landscape and inscrutable adoption handlers in Siberia, to her feelings of inexperience and ambivalence at being a new mother in her early forties, to her growing realization over months then years that something was “not quite right” with her daughter, Julia, who remained cold and emotionally detached. Why wouldn’t she look her parents in the eye or accept their embraces? Why didn’t she cry when she got hurt? Why didn’t she make friends at school? Traster describes how uncertainty turned to despair as she blamed herself and her mothering skills for her daughter’s troublesome behavioral issues, until she came to understand that Julia suffered from reactive attachment disorder, a serious condition associated with infants and young children who have been neglected, abused, or orphaned in infancy.
Hoping to help lift the veil of secrecy and shame that too often surrounds parents struggling with attachment issues, Traster describes how with work, commitment, and acceptance, she and her husband have been able to close the gulf between them and their daughter to form a loving bond, and concludes by providing practical advice, strategies, and resources for parents and caregivers.
My shelves are lined with books for foster and adoptive parents—books about special needs, parenting techniques, trauma, preparing for foster care and adoption, and so on. Some read like scientific textbooks, while others are lighter reads. This book, however, after so many parenting books, captured me and drew me in first with Tina’s talent for words and second with her honesty and realness. As a memoir, the book chronicles the Trasters’ journey from the decision to adopt, their travels and the process, and their life in the years following. I found myself relating to some of her thoughts and feelings as an adoptive mother attempting to connect and bond and to help a child heal. Rescuing Julia Twice was a refreshing break for me, providing another mother’s insights and feelings with the raw honesty that we all need to know we are not alone in feelings of guilt or inadequacy.
While some in the adoption community see the words “reactive attachment disorder” or “RAD” and rear back at what some have considered a death sentence of sorts in the area of relationship, Tina’s book shows that there is hope. A diagnosis of RAD does not make a chid unadoptable, unlovable, or unreachable. Her book ends with resources for families, so while it is not a how-to book, it does provide places for parents to go to seek help and healing for their child.