PERRYSBURG - Jessie Hogsett has a unique perspective on Reactive Attachment Disorder, widely considered to be the kiss of death for a successful adoption placement.
He was diagnosed with RAD himself as a young boy.
"RAD is not a life sentence," Hogsett insists. "I'm trying to get the point across that just because someone is diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder that they're not going to grow up to be sociopath."
The California author will be the featured speaker at the Adopt America Network's annual Author's Event. It will be held on Nov. 23, a Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Funny Bone Comedy Club at 6140 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg.
His book "Detached: Surviving Reactive Attachment Disorder," tells of his firsthand experience being abused as a child, adopted, and growing up with the condition, He will share that story, explaining how he eventually overcame RAD, while also giving tips and suggestions to help those struggling with this issue.
The public is invited to join the author for a discussion, question and answer session, and book-signing. Dessert will be provided, but guests can order food from the Funny Bone as well.
Hogsett was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and was severely abused as a child. He was put into foster care and, eventually, adopted. But the baggage of his earliest life experiences followed him and he developed Attachment Disorder. At age 13, Hogsett was finally put into a residential treatment facility, where he stayed for two years.
"In Facebooking with parents of children with RAD, they all seem to have the same idea" - that there is little hope for improvement in these children who act out, often to the point of becoming a danger to themselves and others around them.
Frankly, Hogsett added, "a lot of the literature out there swings that way. There are not a lot of positive stories."
A 2011 movie on the subject, "The Boarder," shows "the worst-case possible scenario. When I went down to preview it, it left me with the impression that people with RAD are always violent and destructive, and that's not always the case.
"Deep down inside, we all want to be loved and accepted."
As a speaker, "my goal is to give a different insight from the child's mind of what we're thinking when we act out."
Just one or two people can make the vital difference in the life of a child diagnosed with Attachment Disorder, Hogsett says.
"When I was in residence at 13, there were two people there on staff who I sensed weren't just there to earn a paycheck. When I saw they weren't just giving up and leaving me, I was able to lower my guard just a little bit, to trust a little."
When Hogsett left the facility, at age 15, "I was very reserved; I still had some of that wall in front of me, but those two staffers made a positive change in my life." Hogsett decided he would be the one to define the rest of his life.
Today, he is proud to call himself a RAD survivor.
Hogsett is earning a bachelor's degree in psychology, plans a master's degree and a career in social work. He's also writing a second book.
He is on the board of directors of PATCHES (Promoting Attachment for Traumatized Children's Hearts & Educating Society) and has a family of his own.
"I've been married since 2003 and I have four girls," ages 12, 7, 4 and 1 1/2. His wife just gave birth to their son last weekend.
"I love my kids."
He's speaking of his own five, but also the many other children with mental health issues that he has worked with over the years.
One particular group is at Hope House, an Idaho-based facility "that deals with failed overseas adoptions" and often becomes a permanent home to children who go there.
Hogsett believes the incidence of RAD is very high in non-infant foreign adoptees. "I'd say in at least 75 to 80 percent of all overseas adoptions the kids have RAD" as do perhaps 50 to 60 percent of stateside older adoptees. "In the U.S., we see more post-traumatic stress disorder, more oppositional defiance" and not quite as many cases of RAD.
But the statistics don't change one vital truth, says Hogsett:
"No matter what your past is - if you've been abused, or whatever, you don't have to let that define you. You can move on from that and have a future."
The public is invited to hear more of Hogsett's unique perspective Nov. 23 in Perrysburg.
Tickets to the event are $10 and will benefit Adopt America Network, a national adoption charity based in Toledo which is dedicated to helping children in the U.S. foster care system find permanent, loving families. To purchase tickets, call Daphne at 1-800-246-1731.
His book is available online and via most electronic devices, including Kindle, iPad and Nook.