Monday, November 3, 2014
People worry about all sorts of things when thinking of adoption. Many ask me questions about the size or locations of their home or apartment. Is my apartment large enough? Does our property need to be fenced in?
In some states, there are “size” requirements. Particularly for foster care placements or adoptive placements from the public child welfare system. There are room dimensions, required windows and window guards and the need to demonstrate safety precautions. The room must be clean, well-maintained and have ample room for a child(ren). Male and Female children cannot share a room and, often, no more than 2 children in a room.
In a private adoptive placement, you need to show that there is room for a child(ren), that the home is clean, well maintained and that safety proofing the home will be done in an age appropriate manner. In urban cities where real estate is quite costly, people often move to larger apartment or home as the need arises. Having children is a reason to move to a larger apartment, a more kid/family friendly neighborhood or an area with a better school system.
During the homestudy, I always looked at the general condition of the home and where the child would live. Most infants sleep in their parent’s bedroom until they sleep through the night (the children that is. Parents never sleep through the night, again. I still sleep with one eye and one ear open and my kids are 23 and 26). If there is no separate bedroom, I ask about their plans for space as their child grows. In New York City, where I am, people are very clever at dividing spaces for multiple uses or building walls to create a new living space.
In the suburbs, people frequently have an extra bedroom, but are using it for another purpose (office, guest room, exercise room, storage, etc). They want to know if they need to set up the nursery or child’s bedroom prior to the homestudy. My answer is “no”. Can you imagine waiting to adopt and walking past a nursery room every day? To have a reminder that you do not yet have your baby ? Not good for your emotional health. Besides if you don’t know if it’s a boy or girl – how would you decorate?
In addition, there are religions and superstitions, believing it to be bad luck to set up the room before the child arrives. Many baby and child stores offer the option of purchasing furniture, linen, clothing and child care items in advance, but having them delivered when needed. This is a good thing.
All homes need to have access to local roadways and public services. They need to be near schools, hospitals, social services, religious institutions and recreational facilities. They all need clean running water and electricity.
Mostly the space must be a safe, clean, secure and stable environment, where a child can learn, grow and thrive. Where the people in it are loving and nurturing. Where the child will be encouraged to try new things and pursue the ones that interest them. Where adoption will be discussed and any differences of culture or ethnic are on the table. Where children will be encouraged to think and express their views and beliefs without being told what to think and believe.. Where all household members will support one another and strive for the best they can be individually and as a family. Where whether there is a vast number of rooms or a small intimate apartment, there is a close, loving feeling.
Look at your home from a square footage and room count, to the emotional space available to grow and develop. Some days you will all be curled up on the couch together watching a movie or reading a book. Others, you will be spread out in many rooms. One day, your kids will move on to their own homes and you will wonder what to do with all that space.
Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. Through her private practice and agency affiliations, she has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled expectant, birth, pre/post adoptive parents and adopted persons, as well as trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA and a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and is currently a member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood, Adoption Professional Advisory Council of HelpUSAdopt and active in the Adoptive Parents Committee in New York. Her blogs and written contributions can be seen throughout the Internet, including her BLOG and as Head Writer for ADOPTION.NET She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. You can reach her directly at EMAIL