ADOPTION blog post #44, Chapter 29 – Bedrooms and Personal Property Boundaries

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This week’s blog is a chapter excerpt from my book, ADOPTION: Encouragement and Advice for a Hopeful Journey. We are getting into the heart of the book, discussing some delicate but important subjects. I hope this gives foster and adoptive families some things to consider in order to make the best decisions for their entire family.

  1. Bedrooms and Personal Property Boundaries

You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.         Deuteronomy 19:14

At the time of our first adoption home study, my state’s foster care licensing required each child to have a minimum of 40 square feet bedroom floor space. The standard size of most American houses that are constructed to comply with building codes, have 8’ x10’ as a minimum for bedrooms, not including closet space. Hence, a typical American home, with secondary bedrooms of 80 square feet, can accommodate two foster children or children in placement to be adopted.

There is a caution that I think needs to be stated at this point. Not all children, especially foster and/or adopted children, should share bedrooms from a personal safety and boundary standpoint. Many children, especially those coming from group orphanages overseas, or from impoverished inner city housing in the US, would be glad to share a room with only one other child, and would consider that situation spacious! This is not what my caution concerns.

My caution is this: children from ‘hard places,’ such as adopted children from trauma backgrounds, have a high-risk percentage of having been sexually assaulted, or they themselves were the predators. Often, these attacks happened at night, while they were in bed. Therefore, issues associated with nighttime sleeping (or even daytime napping) in shared bedrooms may occur. Whether a child is in danger of being attacked, or a child is endangering his roommate, or if a child simply has night terrors that keep the other child in the room awake and afraid, there are strong considerations for adopted children not sharing bedrooms.

Another serious issue that must be addressed is where children who share a room will change clothes. Privacy should be provided for children while they change, along with instruction on modesty and appropriateness with fully or partially naked bodies. Siblings should not be showing off their private parts to each other regardless of whether they are biologically related or not, and children certainly should not be exhibitionists with friends or complete strangers.

A final factor to consider is the sharing of personal property that no doubt goes along with shared bedrooms. Adopted children often have the bad habit of stealing others’ possessions. Their wild or simply careless behaviors can damage or break things.  They might have messy or disorganized personal habits which wreak havoc for another child who has been trained since birth to play appropriately and carefully with his personal property. Asking a child to share everything he has with a complete stranger is tantamount to inviting the thief into the toy store.

I think it is especially important to consider these factors when a family is contemplating a biological child sharing a room with an adopted child. Sometimes circumstances of existing space and financial limitations force shared bedrooms. I would urge you to strongly consider how you can provide separate bedrooms for children of toddler age on up, unless you are adopting a same-sex sibling group at a young age and caseworkers are 100% sure that there was no sexual misconduct going on in their home of origin. Keep in mind that if the children were in a foster home, even the best foster homes will occasionally have children with predatory behavior who cause harm to children, who then come to you for adoptive placement.

(Chapter continues in book.)

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