You don’t need a big home in order to adopt. Many people have false beliefs about why they can’t adopt. I want to dispel these myths that they believe and shed some light on these subjects. Today’s subject is housing. If you’d like to read more information about this, Chapter 12 in my book is all about the requirements for adoption.
Fact 1: You Don’t Need a Bedroom in Your Home For Every Child
While it is best for newly adopted children to have their own bedroom, this is not a requirement. They may share a room with other kids in the home, as long as they are the same gender. Some states allow children of opposite genders to share a room, as long as they are five or younger. The only requirement is that each child has his or her own bed. This should relieve some stress, knowing that you do not need a six or seven bedroom house in order to adopt!
While it’s not a requirement that adopted children have their own bedroom, I want to add a caveat. Many adoptable children have faced abuse, and it is to their benefit and the other children’s benefit to separate them, at least at first. The adopted child may feel terrified sleeping in a room with someone else. She may stay awake all night, wondering if her new sibling will abuse her like the last one did. In this case, the new child would get a better night’s sleep if she has her own room. Similarly, an adopted child could potentially act out the sexual behaviors that she has been taught, if given the opportunity. Consider this a risk for any age of child, even toddlers may act out sexually if it has been done to them.
Sharing Bedrooms: My Advice
If you are limited on bedrooms and you want to adopt, it’s possible to figure out a feasible solution. I think it’s okay for kids to share a bedroom if the following criteria are met:
- The child who will be sharing a room with the newly adopted child has never shown any signs of acting out sexually towards people or pets.
- The newly adopted child is at least three years younger than the child he or she will be sharing a room with.
- The older child needs to have a strong personality and a strong attachment with his or her parents. Sometimes, age difference isn’t enough to keep a younger child from acting out. At the very least, you want the child to be bold enough to say “NO!” and close enough to you to tell you right away.
This set up will prevent the child who already lives in your home from being abused by a child from hard places. This doesn’t help the newly adopted child feel safe, however. He may still feel terrified that the new, older sibling will abuse him at night. Getting over this fear may take time, reassurance, and a listening ear. I don’t have another suggestion for this scenario, unfortunately. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them. In a perfect world, newly adopted children will have their own bedrooms–but it isn’t a requirement.
Fact 2: You Don’t Have to Live in a Mansion
I share in my book that we lived in a 1,500 square foot, three bedroom home when we adopted Noah. Noah joined our family, and then we had five people in our home (three of whom were three and under!). Later, when we had a family of six, we took in four foster kids, making us a family of ten–in a 1,900 square foot home with three bedrooms.
There is no specific requirement about the size of an adoptive home. The house should be able to comfortably fit the number of people who will be living there once the adoption is complete. This simply means, if you are adopting a sibling group of five, for example, you’ll want to make sure they can fit around your dining room table. You wouldn’t want newly adopted kids to feel like they don’t quite fit in the family’s home. It doesn’t have to be perfect, though. Tight is okay, as long as it doesn’t make the family feel stressed or discontent.
My Grandparents’ Home
My grandparents lived in a 1920’s bungalow in Portland, Oregon, and it had tight rooms. The tiny living room would feel squished if it had the oversized, modern-style couches. The dining room fit their large table with just enough space to walk around it and get into the kitchen. There were really only two bedrooms, until they converted the attic into a bedroom and the basement into two bedrooms (without legal windows). The kitchen was more like a hallway. Still, my grandparents raised four children through to adulthood, hosted numerous college students at their home (they lived near Multnomah Bible College) and they held Christmas Eve and Easter at their home with their four kids, their four spouses, and twelve grandchildren! It was tight, but it was cozy, and warm, and just thinking about it makes me want to go back there. Was it perfect? No. Would it have been a little easier if it were bigger? Probably. But, it worked.
Similarly, you can adopt a child in a tight home–it’s okay. It can be cozy and warm and comfortable, even if it’s small. The story about my grandparents’ home reminded me of one requirement, though: to be a legal bedroom, a room must have two exits. This means, there should be a door and a window. The window should be low enough that a child can climb out of it and large enough to be an exit. This is called “egress,” and the technical requirements are that a window should be no more than 44″ off of the ground and be at least 20″ wide and 24″ tall, or a total of 5.7 square feet. This is in case of a fire, of course.
Small Home Dwellers, Line Up to Adopt! 🙂
I hope you see from this post that you can adopt, no matter how big or small your home is. If you were considering adoption and this was holding you back, please consider applying today!