Monday, November 10, 2014


With little tweaking - the following DOG'S PRAYER could apply to children, too.

Now I lay me down to sleep,

The king-sized bed is soft and deep.

I sleep right in the center groove,
My human beings can hardly move.
I’ve trapped their legs. They’re tucked in tight.

And here is where I pass the night.

No one disturbs me or dares intrude,

Til morning comes and “I want food!”

I sneak up slowly to begin,
And nibble on my human’s chin.
For morning’s here, it’s time to play.
I always seem to get my way.

So thank you Lord, for giving me,
This human person that I see.
The one who hugs me and holds me tight.
And shares their bed with me at night. 

There is a long standing debate of whether children should share their parents’ bed. Some feel children need to be independent from the beginning. They need to learn to sooth themselves. The need to get a good rest in their own bed. Others believe children know what they need. Some require the closeness of another person to feel safe and secure. Some, if adopted when older, may not be accustomed to sleeping alone (or even in a bed).  And then there are parents, who weary from making trips back an forth to their child's room in the middle of the night, choose to make it easier for everyone to get a good night's sleep and bring the child into their bed.

I remember one of my friends telling me it was wrong to have my daughter in my bed and that I should let her cry herself to sleep. She would soon learn to stay in bed and fall asleep on her own. I tried. Both my daughter and I were basket cases. No one was sleeping. The solution was for her to sleep above our heads in the bed. I didn't need to worry about her falling out or being squished in the middle. And despite an occasional kick in the head, we all began to sleep through the night.

I mentioned it to another friend. "Don't worry. She will be out of your bed by the time she goes to college." We laughed and it became my mantra. My daughter was in her own bed within months - to be replaced by her younger sister, who had slept independently since a few weeks old. We repeated the above our heads position.

As a mother, I believe very young children are aware of what they need. They have not yet been taught social rules, routines or expected behaviors. They are in survival mode. They know hunger, discomfort, weariness and when they need human contact. As a parent, it is our job to learn to recognize their needs and how to meet them. Human contact is an important part of developing social relationships, and this starts in the family unit

I am not saying all children need to sleep with their parents or care givers. I am saying each child has its needs. So do their parents. If your child needs you - figure out a way to meet that need. Remember why you had your child initially sleep in your room or in a bassinet in the room you were in during the day, when they were an infant. It was easier. It also made you feel more secure that they were okay. You could look and see that they were still breathing. Children also like seeing their parents when they wake up. If adopted as a toddler, there may be anxiety and even more urgency to see and reconnect with the new caregiver (parent). 

Do not feel guilty that your child needs you. Sleep and bedtime issues do not make you a bad parent. 

If you want your child to be in their own bed (space) - try some of the following:
  • Let your child fall asleep in your bed and stay there or move them to their own bed once asleep. 
  • Lie with your child until they fall asleep (in your bed or theirs). 
  • Let your child sleep next to your bed (on a cot or on the floor). 
  • If your child is a bit older (as young as 2 years), ask them why they are having trouble falling asleep in their room or bed? Maybe it is the "monster under the bed" or shadows on the wall or house noises? Maybe they don't want to stop being part of the action?
  • You may be putting your child to bed too early. Stop or shorten the afternoon nap. 
  • Many children's mattresses are quite firm to prevent suffocation. Your bed may be softer and more comfortable and more pleasing to the child. 

FYI - My daughters did leave the family bed. Truth be told all too soon for me - I missed them. The slow rhythm of their breathing, seeing them still after a long day of activity, knowing they were safe and sound were reassuring to me. Sometimes we even napped together - with me falling asleep beside them - rather than getting some chores done while they snoozed. Sometimes they wanted to be near if sick or scared.  I was happy to meet their need. Overall though, everyone was in their own bed - with carefully chosen sheets, comforters, mattresses and pillows - and cuddly buddies ("Bear Bear" and "Moosey") to keep them company through the long night.  

Don’t be rigid. Make a plan and adjust it, as needed. "And don't worry. Your child will be out of your bed by the time he/she goes to college."  Focus on everyone getting the best night's sleep possible. You and your child can do this !!!

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001 and has a private practice in New York City. She has been Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA since 1992. You can follow her ADOPTION BLOG or reach her directly by EMAIL


Every November the United States celebrates adoption. Adoptees, birth and adoptive families, professionals, government officials and advocacy groups call attention to building and strengthening families through adoption.

In the 28 years I have worked with birth parents as decisions are made, and as the year’s progress, based on what they feel is in the best interest of their child. I have witnessed adoptees struggle with decisions made on their behalf. I have watch singles, couples, extended families and communities embrace children as they join families through adoption.

Parenting is not always easy. Add adoption to the mix and there are complexities that must be dealt with.

National Adoption Month focuses attention on adoption and adoptive families and leads to more conversations about how you became a family, and may even include a new definition of who composes your family.

Some of these conversations may be in front of children. Be mindful of your words, tone and body language. . Young children parrot what they hear. Older children interpret the meaning of the words.

Take advantage of this month’s awareness of adoption and talk to your child.

Discuss the positives of adoption:

- It provides loving and permanent homes for children.
- It has provided another option for birthparents who were not ready to parent.
- It has made the dream of parents come true.
Explain and refute the negative impression and representation of adoption:

- Media portrayal of adoption is often for “shock value”
- Most people do not understand adoption. This does not mean you have to tolerate their comments. 

All children deserve to know where they came from and how they became part of your family. Hearing their adoption story can be enlightening, but also raises more questions. Tough histories can be shared as they are able to understand and deal with the information. Pay close attention to their comments, concerns and worries.

For children who do not resemble their parents, comments and questions from the outside world are a constant reminder that they are different. Internal struggles of “where do I belong” shift over time – but are present.

As they grow, your child will continue to hear comments from the outside world. They will hear the truth and how to process what others say from you. Use this opportunity wisely, and continue the discussions throughout the year as a reaction to something you have heard or seen, or as a check in with your child as to what they are thinking and feeling. Prepare your child (family and friends) to be adoption educators and advocates. Always answer their questions, keeping the lines of communication open.

It has been a privilege to be part of so many adoptive journeys - from counseling birth parents to conducting adoptive homestudies for prospective parents, and helping adoptees, birth and adoptive parents and their extended families grapple with adoption and its impact on their lives.

To my daughters, who joined my family through adoption - you taught me to be a better person and a mother. I love you both dearly. To their birth mothers – thank you for your amazing gift. I have not forgotten you and see you in my daughters’ talents and individual character  everyday.

Adoption has and will remain an important part of who I am personally and professionally. I never gave up my dream of being a mother, and while I believe the world is more accepting of adoption, we still have a long way to go for total acceptance. To the thousands of birth and adoptive families that have allowed me to be part of their journey, I am forever grateful. To those whom I will assist in the future, I look forward to our work together to make your dreams come true.

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001 and has a private practice in New York City. She is also Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA. She can be reached at