I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or even a nurse. I am the foster-adoptive mother of a RAD child. Kailey came into my life when she was 9-months-old. She had been hospitalized three times for failure to thrive and weighed less than 15 pounds. When she was four, she was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. As a tiny baby, she had not attached to anyone. Her birth mother did not bond with her. I have worked relentlessly to try and compensate for what she did not get in those first 9-months that she needed so desperately. Kailey is my only child and the love of my life. I can't imagine loving anyone more.
No child should ever have to experience what my beloved little girl went through.
The thing is, her birth mom was the best mom to Kailey that she knew how to be. She had no template of good parenting herself. As far as we know, Kailey was never physically abused, she was not drug or alcohol effected. She has no cognitive or motor skill delays or any physical limitations.
The anger, stress and lack of trust that infants experience when they are pre-verbal and no one is tending to their needs is carried with them for the rest of their lives. It's not a conscious memory, but it's there and it leaves a scar that no procedure can take away. There is no cure for Reactive Attachment Disorder, but, it IS 100% preventable.
Dismantling the "crib to prison" pipeline is my mission. Advocating kindness, love and emotional well-being for all--starting at the beginning of life when the foundation is being laid. Breaking the cycle of unequipped parents raising the next generation of unequipped parents has got to stop. Innovative approaches are reaching out to future, new and young parents that are getting their attention and making a real difference. We're speaking to them in their own language, the language of technology, social media and hip, compelling marketing.
Yes, there are organizations who advocate breast-feeding and reading to small children. And there are certainly many organizations working to help parents of RAD kids learn how to cope with these children's very special needs. To the best of my knowledge, nobody is doing what "Smile at Your Baby" is doing.
~ Shelley Calissendorff, Founder/Executive Director
Member, World Wide Who's Who
"Congratulations! You are the perfect person to initiate this. You are so intelligent, compassionate, and dedicated. Your personal experience is probably the best training too. I am sincerely hoping you touch many lives and most importantly help children feel the love and nurturing they all desperately need and deserve. Thank you for sharing this with me."
~ Kailey's Kindergarten Teacher
"I am so impressed with your effort around SAYB. I love that you have taken a body of theory and found a way to start with a simple but essential message. I wish you the best with SAYB."
~ Kailey's (Third) Therapist
Copyright 2011 Smile At Your Baby!. All rights reserved.
"As a mother of two and writer for kids, I believe the philosophy and mission of Smile At Your Baby! is nothing short of world-changing. When children know they are loved and valued they grow up to be adults who love and value people in the ways our hurting world needs. Thank you, Shelley Calissendorff for staying focused on this important call!" ~ Sundee T. Frazier, Author of Coretta Scott-King Award-Winning children's book, "Brandon Buckley's Universe and Everything in it"