Tina Traster a.k.a Tina Travesty

This post is prompted by my recent visit to Barnes & Noble, which is now carrying the book Rescuing Julia Twice: A Mother’s Tale of Russian Adoption and Overcoming Reactive Attachment Disorder by Tina Traster. I have not read the book and don’t know if I would, even if I managed to get a free copy, so as not to add any extra spare change to her pocket. Without reading the book, I cannot critique it. I can only discuss what I know.

I know that I am immediately disgusted by the title. Not only does this woman claim to have rescued her daughter once, but twice. In an article titled, When An Adopted Child Won’t Attach, she writes, “When I can’t come to Julia’s rescue, I suffer.” The rhetoric of adoption as “rescue” benefits Traster, not her daughter, Julia, in any way. This mentality is used to prioritize her adoptive parent experience, highlighting the pain, effort, and exceptional parenting on Traster’s behalf. The “rescue” narrative allows Traster to seek public approval for being altruistic or self-sacrificing and diminishes Julia’s role to a secondary character in her own story. I am adopted. I am Chinese-American. I am a blogger. I am so many things, but rescued is not one of them.

Traster describes her daughter as having Reactive Attachment Disorder, which is defined by Mayo Clinic as “a rare but serious condition in which infants and young children don’t establish healthy bonds with parents or caregivers. A child with reactive attachment disorder is typically neglected, abused or orphaned. Reactive attachment disorder develops because the child’s basic needs for comfort, affection and nurturing aren’t met and loving, caring attachments with others are never established. This may permanently change the child’s growing brain, hurting the ability to establish future relationships.” What’s more, Traster calls her daughter “the new face of RAD.” In a similar vein, she wrote in an article for Redbook Magazine that “only now were we ready to admit Julia was its [RAD] poster child.” My concern is purely about Julia. How does she feel about being the “poster child” for RAD, having every detail of her early life put out for public consumption forever?

Perhaps the most appalling and alarming element of this book is that it is yet another tool of exploitation. At age twelve, Julia is at a stage where I strived to be somewhat similar to my peers, I loathed my flaws or imperfections being pointed out, and I certainly didn’t want my parents sharing my private information with family or friends let alone the world. That, however, is exactly what Traster does through her writing, describing Julia’s “manic behavior” and calling her “feral” in a piece describing her early years for Time Magazine. There’s nothing wrong with offering hope to families in a similar situation, but there are several alternative routes the author could have taken to make her work more factual and ethical. Traster could have made this story anonymous, interviewed other families working with RAD, waited until Julia was 18, or co-authored with Julia. Instead, Traster used her daughter as another news story to advance her journalist career.

The sickening amount of exploitation continues on Traster’s personal website, juliaandme.com, which showcases the numerous articles and columns Traster has written on her daughter and their family’s experience overcoming RAD. Though the website is titled “Julia & Me,” it appears to be very heavy on the “Me” side of things, reserving one tab for Julia. Along with the articles and book reviews are promotional videos as well as a documentary by Traster titled “The Kids Are Not Alright.” In this video, Traster compares connecting with her daughter to rescuing a wild animal, such as a fox. But young Julia Tannenbaum is not and was not a wild animal. She’s a thinking, feeling human being – one who had experienced much trauma and change early in life. Later in the video, Traster calls their house “a war room” and says “[their] home literally became ‘Operation: Save Julia.'” When her parents constantly tell her how they’ve travelled tens of thousands of miles for her, how they’ve sacrificed so much for her, and how they’ve made her their “life’s work,” how can young Julia go through normal teenage rebellion? How can she live up to the silent expectation that her parents “saved” her from being a “feral” animal?

As a matter of fact, in a New York Times Blog post from May 18, 2014, Traster describes a situation in which Julia becomes angry and cries out, “You’re not my real mom.” Though not unusual, these words are hurtful to parents. Filled with pain, Traster spat back, “Oh yeah, then who is?” Remarkably, she relays how Julia was the bigger person in this situation and apologized first. Traster then told Julia to never say those words again, short-circuiting normalcy. Instead of making this a general learning experience about the impact of words or respect in a family unit, by telling Julia to NEVER say that again, she makes this situation about her own vulnerability and Julia’s role in protecting her.

Another video on the site titled, “Raising Julia” discusses their home life. In a very commodifying way, Traster reveals that she “had never seen a more beautiful baby anywhere.” Traster describes Julia as “so starkly stunning . . . She was like a piece of porcelain – stunning!” To me, it seems that Traster was delighted with her daughter when she thought she received the most beautiful, most perfect one and then became deeply saddened to learn she had received a “damaged good.” Towards the end of the video she describes Julia as her everything, her daughter and her work, as if the two have fused together. Traster says, “It’s kind of gratifying in a funny sort of way. I guess what she’s brought to my life, and I hope this doesn’t sound selfish, but she’s brought to my life a mission. Julia’s hurt has given us all a mission to heal, and that I’m able to do that through my work makes me very lucky. I’ve not just been given a child; I’ve been given a muse, you know.” The idea that Julia is her “mission” and her “muse” puts an exceptional burden on her. Instead of just simply being a child, Julia’s position in the family has come with a job description – to fulfill Traster’s life.

This relentless exploitation is coupled with relentless self promotion. In almost every article written, Traster concludes by mentioning the then upcoming release of her book, and an excerpt of Rescuing Julia Twice appeared on Yahoo! News. The vigor with with she promotes her book reduces the words in these smaller articles to nothing more than offensive advertisements for her book. Traster has also personally reached out to many adoption groups and pages on Facebook to advertise her articles and new book. I first came across Tina Traster towards the end of last month. She posted a link to a video interview about the book, Rescuing Julia Twice, as well as a couple images of Julia’s artwork and an article about RAD to the Families with Children From China Facebook page despite group guidelines strictly prohibiting advertisements, commercial content, and fundraising. Traster’s involvement in the group was unwarranted from the very beginning as membership is limited to Chinese adoptees and current/prospective adoptive parents of Chinese adoptees.  Traster quickly disappeared from the page once it was revealed that she had not adopted from China, as the group expects.

Interestingly, Traster cites a news story of a woman jailed for involuntary manslaughter of her adopted, Russian son as her inspiration for seeking a diagnosis for her condition, Julia’s alleged RAD. Natalia Higier, the woman from the story, had accidentally thrown the child into the air and he hit his head. When the woman described a child who was “unaffectionate, exceedingly difficult,” and refused to attach, Traster immediately connected. Additionally, a 2010 story of a woman who attempted to return her adopted Russian child on a plane to Moscow served as a catalyst for Traster to tell her daughter’s story. While these cases juxtaposed to Traster’s situation may set out to exemplify her caring, persistent mother’s hear, to an adoptee the message is that she should be grateful her mother didn’t kill or return her – not only because “so many marriages and homes are ravaged by the challenge of adopting difficult children (according to her article in Redbook Magazine),” but also because Julia was the cause of their family becoming “adrift.”

The amount of positive attention Traster has received is absolutely shocking to me. Picked up by The Huffington Post Blog, New York Times Magazine, Redbook Magazine, Time Magazine as well as many other reputable sources, Traster writes as if she deserves a plaque for doing simply what she promised to do through adoption – parent. The sadness of this situation is firstly for Julia, whose privacy has been completely violated. And she will never get it back. A second sadness exists for the families who are currently dealing with RAD and desperately looking for help. Stumbling on Rescuing Julia Twice in the Psychology or Childcare sections of bookstores, these families may be tempted to use Traster’s book as a handbook for their own situations instead of seeking appropriate help. An additional worry is that children may be erroneously labeled by their parents as having RAD when they are only expressing their grief and loss through different coping mechanisms. Adoptee trauma must be validated so that adoptive parents don’t expect an instantaneous attachment on the part of the child. Such vast media coverage of Traster’s family does nothing to really address serious issues in adoption, including the inadequate information and preparation of prospective adoptive parents, the availability of reasonably priced mental health services, and post-adoption follow-up and support services.

Perhaps one day, I will be in Barnes & Noble, and I’ll glance up and see a book by a young woman named Julia Tannenbaum titled, Surviving Tina Traster: A Russian Adoptee’s Tale of Overcoming Exploitation and Self-Promotion by her American Mother. I look forward to that day.

 

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48 responses to “Tina Traster a.k.a Tina Travesty

      • So well done! Thank you. I have felt the same way since I first became aware of this family some time ago thru their ‘documentary’. You clearly distilled the red flags have seen waving wildly.
        I strive, in my own family, to keep open communication, dignity and privacy. I am not my children’s ‘real’ (first) mom and the reasons for that are very sad. I am here now and am glad to be able to accompany them on their journey. I am glad I ‘get’ to be their mom but sad for them it had to be this way. We live this dichotomy of loss and life! We are all in this together.
        I appreciate your voice!

  1. I already didn’t think I could read this book based on the title alone. But now learning more about the author… Ick. Ick. Ick. Can’t do it. So tired of the “rescuing” narrative. And I can’t imagine my daughter, at 12 (or any age, really), would be okay with me sharing so much of what is hers. Ick again. And IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!! Yes, I’m human and I have lots of feelings about lots of things, but it’s my daughter’s adoption story, not mine. Okay. Time to go to bed.

  2. I have seen a parent’s (especially a mother’s) face when a child won’t attach, will have nothing to do with him, will scream in terror at the very sight of the person who’s been waiting for months to live him. It’s heartbreaking for both parent and child, not to mention potentially dangerous for the child as he may not get all the care and nurturing he needs from a parent who feels outright hated and at the end of his rope.

    There are a couple of misleading paradigms about adoption. The first is the “Anne of Green Gables” narrative, in which adoptees and their parents have no serious issues and their lives are rich, fun, and (green hair dye aside) trouble-free.

    The second is the narrative in which the adoptee goes from a bad situation (foster care or orphanage) to a worse: sex trafficking, abuse, exploitation.

    While both can happen, reality is a bit more of a spectrum. Perhaps Traster has gone too far in publicizing what her family has gone through. It may well be that Julia will (does?) indeed resent her mother putting her into the public eye, as may all children who, like my daughter, are the subject of blogs and books. I don’t know.

    But it seems to me that Traster is doing a service to those parents who are considering adoption and especially those who are having attachment difficulties: “You are not alone. This isn’t your fault. You and your child CAN get through this.”

    That’s worth something.

    • Well said Jim. I agree that maybe she should have concealed their names but their story does need to be told. I am not sure what this blogger has been through in her short life but I do not think she has the wisdom to speak on issue of adoption parenting. She can and should share her experience as an adoptee so we can learn from it but has no place judging and telling adoptive parents what to do. Just as we have not walked in her shoes she has not walked in ours.

      As for the idea of adoption being rescue she is also mislead. While no I do not think adoptive parents should be heralded as heros, Let’s face the hard cold facts, the blogger was born in a country that could give two craps about their children and would rather kill them than let people keep their “extra” children (and don’t even get me started on how China looks at children with special needs). She was living in an orphanage as nothing more than a number. So yes, her parents did rescue her from that and gave her the life that she has. No, we don’t need to make a big deal about it but it IS part of the adopt story just as much as the loss and and all the other pieces. The blogger is still young though and not able to see outside her own bubble yet apparently. Wisdom comes with age and I hope someday she will learn to not take herself so seriously.

      • It helps to remember that there are two sides: the parent(s) and the child. While I agree with RTB that children should not be stage props or fashion accessories for their parents and that parents ought to protect the privacy of their children, it also helps parents and prospective parents to talk about their problems and (hopefully) solutions. Blogs – including this one – have been invaluable to us not only as a resource for everything from the adoption process to travel to dealing with our daughter’s special need, but also as concrete demonstrations that the lengthy, maddening, frustrating process can and does have a happy ending.

      • You state that the blogger doesn’t have the wisdom to speak on this issue, yet her sentiments echo those of someone I know who is an adoptive mom of a child with RAD. It sounds to me more like you are protecting your turf as a adoptive parent against those who, in your opinion, haven’t paid their dues. Her opinions on this matter are highly relevant because she can put herself in Julia’s shoes, which you cannot by your own standards. Her age is irrelevant. Her feelings about the idea that she was “rescued” are completely valid (and I’ve heard it echoed by friends that were adopted many times over the years), and the fact that you persist in thinking that way despite the fact that the children themselves rarely see it that way tells me a lot about you. It’s not about you, it’s about the child. Marginalizing her feelings about this does not make you look like the wiser person, it makes you look like a person with an axe to grind.

      • I’d say that Jessica’s response demonstrate exactly WHY people like Traster should NOT get a platform to spout their one-sided observations. Jessica showed how she’s racist, nationalist, age-ist, adopter-ist, probably other -ists and just plain insulting and bullying so as to feel superior and powerful. Not all AP’s are like this (although too many are, clearly, for B&N to promote her book). I’m heartened to see more AP’s publicly defending RTB and denouncing Jessica’s manipulative tactics.
        Unfortunately for Julia, her narcissistic “white knight-ess in shining armor” has set the stage many times over for caging Julia into silence or compliance. If Julia’s behavior doesn’t get mommy dearest’s approval, then louder, unapologetic “mommy” will enlist her army (the public) to further “diagnose” her and wear her down. How can Julia defend herself when “her entire world” already presumes the keeper of her story is a savior and ‘thou must be grateful’? For Traster, this isn’t about love; this is about control. The obstacles for Julia to claim her self-worth will just magnify for as long as she’s under Traster’s authority, no matter how “loving, caring, or reasonable” Traster sounds. She loves and cares about herself.
        Traster’s (and Jessica) bullying/shaming tactics and self-promotion are damaging to Julia and ALL children whose parents applaud narcissistic adoptive parents like them.
        Thank god adult adoptees are able to speak out more. I look forward to when Julia will be emancipated.

      • Wow. Jessica’s response is so amazingly insulting and self-serving. I’m an adoptee and an adoptive parent, and I think that RTB’s post is the perfect response to this horrible rescue narrative.

    • Creating that sense of community is indeed significant, but as the article rightly points out, there are so many other ways Traster could have accomplished this. In fact, by doing what the article suggests–interviewing other families, making their lives the focus of her work–would have created a greater sense that parents aren’t in this alone, and that the struggles might not be their fault. By exploiting her daughter, by telling a story that is not hers to tell, Traster suggests instead that her daughter is unusual, her family’s experience is unusual, and thus her own “rescue” of her daughter is worth highlighting.

      I teach memoir classes, and understand well the value of an individual’s experience reflecting powerful truths to a reader; but in this case, the individual focused on, Julia, is not allowed to tell her own story. That seems way too problematic.

    • On further thought: The harm outweighs the service, though. Because there is only one place at B&N for The Book About Adoption this quarter, and there was only one slot at the 4 publishers who could have printed it. (Sad facts about the industry.) Because it’s zero-sum, Tina’s rescue narrative takes up the only available place, pushing out more useful and thoughtful approaches from APs who have time in grade & want to help others.

    • Focusing on adoption-only paradigms excludes other vital aspects of child welfare or child protections – ie. FAMILY PRESERVATION, FAMILY REUNIFICATION. Attempts to reunify children in orphanages, foster care, institutions, or lost or stolen children, with their families of origin should be prioritized before adoption is considered.

      Children shouldn’t need to grapple with genetic bewilderment, get a permanently-fragmented identity (or lose one’s culture, country, and heritage) to be part of a new family when they already have the family they were conceived into. Many displaced children were removed from their families due to poverty, not because they had no family. But HAP’s can accept identity reassignment, genetic bewilderment, and displacement, because it doesn’t happen to them, but to the adoptee instead!!!

      These children (and later adults) are then more often attributed with pathologies, discredited, shamed, medicated, institutionalized, re-homed, and/or they attempt suicide. Meanwhile, AP’s who re-home are given a badge of honor for their irresponsibility, the “journey” they’ve sent this poor defenseless child on again, and “learning” a lesson after being closed-minded and self-righteous, and are promoted in Redbook and NY Times for their “honesty”.

      With family pres/reunification, the child loses much less. Help the children by strengthening their families. Too costly? It’s much less expensive and cost-efficient than paying $$$ ICA fees to remove one child.

      For the child, families, communities, and our pocketbooks, more focus on family preservation/reunification instead of adoption/displacement would be a win-win-win.

    • In his second comment “Jim R” says (and I concur)
      ” ..children should not be stage props or fashion accessories for their parents…”

      So, on 9/20/11, Traster published an article in the HUDSON VALLEY Magazine about leaving NYC and moving to the suburbs. In this article she says:

      “Even if we were to consider bringing the essential suburban accessory– children—I was not tempted.”

      So for Traster, children = accessory.

      I don’t think it could be any clearer than that my friends.

      She said this 7 years after she “rescued” Julia and at least three years after she “over came RAD.”

      Staggering…

    • I believe that Traster could have provided this “service” to parents in similar situations through more ethical means – like making her daughter an anonymous person in the book. As Julia enters dating age, is she going to want a potential partner to see her described as “feral?” As she enters the workforce, will Julia want a future employer to read about how she is “manipulative?” The message of “you are not alone” could still have gotten passed on without making Julia “the poster child for RAD.”

  3. Thanks for spelling out the privacy issues that affect children whose parents publish. All I can say is that the contract for my book that demanded my legal name, and therefore my child’s name, for the cover? Went straight into the trash. My kid’s future is not mine to decorate with a story about what I did to bring her into my family.

    As to the possible use of this book as a handbook: What appropriate services? Part of the problem is that there is no therapeutic consensus on how to handle RAD (if it exists which is above my pay grade). There is no tested ‘treatment’ for children who don’t attach in the way their parents expect, in part because there is no agreement that this is dysfunctional. For the child.

    My point is simply that there is an upside to Tina’s oversharing: Pointing out to PAPs that adoption may not be the only solution their child needs. We were sold the myth that our child just needed a family. It’s a lot more complex than that, as you know–and anything that helps more of the people who are committing this kind of adoption and post-adoption ‘care’ to understand what they’re doing is good.

    • Alex King – We were sold the myth that our child just needed a family. It’s a lot more complex than that, as you know–and anything that helps more of the people who are committing this kind of adoption and post-adoption ‘care’ to understand what they’re doing is good.

      I have often heard that very phrase: “They just need a family.” In some cases, it’s true. We met a little girl in our daughter’s orphanage who is considered unadoptable as her medical condition makes it highly dangerous for her to get on an airplane, yet she says that she wants a mother… and will likely never have one.

      But you’re right: it often is more complicated than just getting children into a family, and prospective parents must understand that before they start down the road.

    • One of the problems with this book is that it’s labeled as both a”parenting” and “psychology” book. I fear the psychology label gives it a sense of credibility, though Traster doesn’t have a degree is psychology. Her degree is in journalism.

  4. Your harsh critique would have had much more credibility if you’d actually read her book.

      • It seems the reading comprehension failure rate is incredibly high when people read blogs written by adoptees…I clearly heard your words that you were not critiquing the book, just what you know…

        Great post by the way – her need to be seen as the hero riding in on a big white horse is as startling, as it is unseemly…

  5. I AM an adoptive (international) parent and I am appalled at some of the comments here. I DO know what I am talking about. My daughter is an adult so I HAVE had the experience raising her. I am also a Child Development Specialist. I agree with everything written in this blog. When I first saw the article from Redbook I could not believe that she would talk about her daughter and show her picture. That alone was enough to give me real concern, and the more I read the more concerned I got.
    Then one of the comments here attacked the author. So if you don’t agree with someone, you say racist things about the country of her birth? You lecture her about what happens there. And it becomes you are so lucky to live HERE. You do realize that we are told all kinds of untruths by adoption agencies and this helps justify everything. We were told that the parents in our daughter’s country of birth never interacted with their children. When we visited that country, we saw wonderful interactions between parents and children, which is what I expected. BTW, we went there by ourselves when our daughter was 14, we did not go on a trip with the agency
    The author was talking about how she has used her daughter in an unhealthy way. Anyone with an education in child development, in issues of attachment, grief, and trauma would agree. I am so embarrassed to even share the title of adoptive parent with you. Wisdom? I have tons of it. I am a grandma and my oldest granddaughter just turned 20 so don’t talk to me about wisdom.

  6. As the adoptive mother of a child of trauma, I agree that transparency in the issues facing adoptees and adoptive parents is crucial. However, not at the expense of the child, who has already lost everything. I can think of a myriad of ways this story could have been told without exploiting her daughter. Listen to what adult adoptees have to say. Where is her daughter’s privacy? There are groups, online forums,etc. for parents struggling with children with RAD. We aren’t alone in the desert anymore. And that this author keeps popping up on adoption sites :”advertising” her book is pretty yucky.

  7. Love the review. As a fellow Russian Adoptive Mother I am appalled at the flippant way that Traster has aired her child’s “dirty laundry”. I shared your post and she threatened to sue me if I didn’t take the post down. I can only imagine the *$%! she is giving you.

  8. Thanks for this great piece. As an adoptive mom – my China-born daughters, one of whom was diagnosed with attachment problems, are 19 and 16 – I was utterly appalled by the title of the book and more than a little put off by this woman’s blatant self-promotion at the expense of her child.

    I, too, hope that parents who are struggling with the very real problems of incomplete or anxious attachment as well as full-blown RAD (very, very rare, especially in infant adoption), do not turn to this book for help. I have serious doubts that this child suffered actual RAD, and am curious as to whether she was ever officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist, or whether mom put on her “Web MD” hat and labeled her kid for the world to see. But, like the blogger here, I will not put a nickel in mom’s pocket to find out, because frankly, it’s none of my business.

    As for Jessica, the commenter who belittles the blogger and her country of birth, I hope you one day eat your humble pie. You were way out of line. How on EARTH can adoptees feel comfortable sharing their stories, perspectives and feelings about adoption if people like you tell them they aren’t wise or don’t have what it takes to speak up? Tell them they have no place expressing their opinions about actions by adoptive parents that they know, BECAUSE THEY ARE ADOPTEES, are dangerous and hurtful? How dare you do that??

    I have been involved in advocacy for transparent adoption for over 15 years. I have learned that beyond toddlerhood, my daughters’ adoption stories are theirs to tell, not mine. I’ve learned to LISTEN to those who have walked where my own children will walk. I’ve learned about racism, sexism, xenophobia and how secrets hurt, while privacy protects. And I have learned some of those lessons the hard way.

    I sincerely hope, Jessica, that you will do the same.

  9. Thanks for the thoughtful article. Just my crass quick observation, none of the cats are fleeing when “RAD Julia” shows up to introduce them in the video; I know not all kids with diagnosis are mean to animals, but they are inconsistent and parsimonious in their affection. I am a therapist (and adoptive parent) and have worked with the RAD population for years. I am glad to know this is a book/video series to steer families away from. I would have to watch more of the videos (which I won’t) to gain more ammunition for this belief, but I suspect there’s some invalidation going on from mom to daughter (borderline behavior) which could be causing the issues. Thanks for saving us the time and trouble on this one.

  10. I am so glad to see this articulate essay on Traster. I have been very concerned about her influence in promoting a highly abusive fringe psychotherapy known as Attachment Therapy (aka Rage Reduction, Holding Therapy, Nancy Thomas parenting, etc.) Some refer to this as a “therapy cult.”

While Traster has little to say about therapy, she definitely promotes the quack diagnosis used only in Attachment Therapy/Parenting (AT/P).

    It’s confusing, but Traster’s “RAD” is not the real RAD recognized in the official DSM (a publication of the American Psychiatric Association).

    When Traster talks about “RAD” she is really referring to a bogus, catch-all disorder only used by the fringe therapists who practice AT/P. This bogus diagnosis is actually called “Attachment Disorder” (AD) but frequently conflated with RAD.

    AD and RAD are very different – which is explained here:

http://www.childrenintherapy.org/attachmentdisorder.html

The phony AD (“RAD”) diagnosis serves several purposes:

1.) Adoptive parents can be scared that a child with AD (“RAD”) will become a monster without Attachment Therapy. AD (“RAD”) is sometimes referred to as “Ted Bundy Disease.”
    
2.) Attachment Therapists will treat AD (“RAD”) while billing for treating the actual RAD. Like Traster, some parents will do the diagnosing themselves. 

3.) Any adopted child can be demonized by an AD (“RAD”) diagnosis which makes the parents’ sacrifice seem that much greater. Adoptive mothers are referred to as “Awesome Moms” after the adjective used for Jehovah in the Old Testament; they are to be feared and pampered and never questioned about their parenting methods.

4.) AT/P promotes a lot of misinformation about child development. Since it is erroneously claimed that AD (“RAD”) develops at birth or earlier, the adoptive mother is blameless for the child’s behaviors. All responsibility for “healing” goes onto the child.

5.) An AD (“RAD”) diagnosis, masquerading as RAD, will qualify the family for special needs adoption funding.

    6.) Any child qualifies for an AD (“RAD”) diagnosis because the parameters are insanely broad. Even a well behaved child is said to be “stalking his prey.” Lack of eye contact is considered a key sign, although many foreign adoptees are taught not to look directly at adults as a sign of respect.

7.) Neglect is considered worse than physical or sexual abuse in causing AD (“RAD”). Many DHS workers appear to have adopted this and other AT/P beliefs. As a result, incidents of minor neglect are used to justify DHS removing a child from his biological parents. 

8.) The AD (“RAD”) diagnosis is used to justify AT/P’s extremely harsh authoritarian parenting methods which include isolation, bare bedrooms, humiliation, excessive chores, manipulation with food, etc.

    AT/P is not about creating a loving relationship, but all about creating a child who gratefully obeys without question. This appears to have special appeal to fundamentalists. 

AT/P and the AD (“RAD”) diagnosis were denounced in 2006 by APSAC and the APA’s Division on Child Maltreatment as inappropriate for all children. But you can still find these practices everywhere, including their promotion in government agencies.

  11. Wonderful article. Thank you for writing this and bringing all of the red flags to light. As a child, I was diagnosed with RAD and I would be appalled if my life was aired for all to read without my consent. I have authored an autobiography about my life with RAD and overcoming though. As for the self promoting by Traster, it was all over the place and still continues that way. She has been kicked out of several facebook groups for using a safe place for her own agenda. She puts herself on a pedestal, and that scares me. It scares me because parents are flocking to this book and think she is a saint. WRONG. There are many before her who have written but do not get known. They don’t self promote on the level as this woman. They are not narcissistic. These are people that have been in the trenches for years and years and years with these kids. These are the real saints. This Traster is not. My advice – don’t put another dime in her pocket. Instead start a fund for Julia for the therapy she will need when she is older and realizes her dirty laundry is now the worlds information.

  12. As I started to say above, this is a really sharp article. I could sense the truth of the author’s voice. Again, thank you.

    We need not fret about the effects of Traster’s work. There is, as you know, a growing push back against her form of thinking. The rising generation of adult adoptees is making itself heard. You are changing our understanding and changing the world, step by step. Hopefully, you are forming the network/structures that will help Julia (or others like her) in the future.

    For those who will not read Traster’s book, you might prefer instead to read her article, “Love Learned,” which is available on line. It is the “unvarnished” shorthand precursor to the book. At the end of the first paragraph, she describes her hesitance holding the baby at the orphanage.

    ” I felt as though someone had lent me an expensive camera I was afraid to fiddle with.”

    My jaw still drops today, even though I have read this before.

    Traster’s unfortunate decisions do not diminish the love and hard work of thousands of families trying to heal the wounds. I pray for sweet Julia and wish her the best, always.

    • Thank you for your kind comments and for the recommendation. I read “Learned Love” and am appalled. Comparing her daughter to “an open, pus-oozing emotional sore [she] couldn’t heal?” Or calling her “damaged goods?” Apparently she’s been at this for years. I know that we all will be there for Julia if/when she begins to question her mother and the adoption system.

  13. Pingback: No, adoptees have not been the reason why… | The adopted ones blog·

  14. This woman is a wack job. Julia is an amazing little girl and if I was her mother I would be so proud of her. It is disgusting that she is receiving money for this self absorption. UGH.

    Adoptive mom of Chris (Korea, 1996)

  15. and another thing…I bet she is home schooled (nothing against it really…but these parents are obviously obsessed with this poor child). OMG. This is awful. A MUSE??????????

  16. I have just read the book & found it some what interesting. Though I must say I am unnerved by the amount of adoptive/foster parents who are now writing books about children in their care. This practise is exploitive and makes me wonder whether that was the intention behind adopting/fostering a child in the first place. The mother in this story reminds me of someone with munchausen by proxy.

  17. Ha way to not read the book, literally judging a book by its cover. Also the cover works because it gets people to take notice at cut through the noise. Also adoption or not to speak about parenting without being a parent is a over stepping. Next time make an informed opion after reading.

    • Dear Juan-John Doe,

      1. There is enough to judge simply on the cover alone. I did not remark on the contents of the book because I haven’t read it (nor do I have the intention to do so). I can analyze what other materials Traster has put out for public consumption and judge the integrity of those statements.

      2. As for your second point, non-adopted individuals feel compelled to speak about adoption all the time – oftentimes surmising what adoptees should feel and how they should behave. I am more than justified and capable of speaking about parenting adoptees because I was parented as an adoptee.

  18. All I can think is a psychopath and narcissist like Traster can be a writer and persuasive. She’s a parasite. I hope when Julia is old enough she sues Traster for all book royalties, along with pain and suffering.

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