Here at Adopters for Adoption we aim to bust the myths that surround adoption. This means answering questions and breaking down barriers around the requirements and the process.

One question that pops up quite often is around spare bedrooms and what we consider to be a spare bedroom. So, today the aim is to answer “What do we mean by ‘spare bedroom’?”

The definition of a spare bedroom is: “a room that is not normally used.”

This means a room that is empty, or can be emptied, that does not have any other household member using it as a space in which to sleep in. It doesn’t have to be ‘big’ or ‘fancy’ but it needs to have a window, be suitable to accommodate a bed, some storage and enough space to move around comfortably.

There are many scenarios that we are presented around this topic. Here are the most common ones that we encounter.

We have a birth child, can our adopted child sleep in the same room?

At Adopters for Adoption we believe that every child deserves a space of their own and some privacy. Although some siblings will be used to sharing a bedroom and may even prefer it, we would not advise an adopted child and birth child to share a room with each other, even if you intend to adopt a child the same gender as your birth child. We believe that there may come a time where your birth child (being the older child) or the adopted child will need their own space. In our experience children birth children are likely to make the adjustment to having a new brother or sister if they maintain a space of their own. Not only that, we can never be sure what experiences an adopted child may have had in the past and so sharing a bedroom might be quite scary for them, so we believe that an adopted child requires a bedroom and a space to call their own.

I do not have a spare bedroom but am happy to give my room up for the child to have.

We would not recommend this as an ideal situation for the adoptive parent or the adopted children. Although it is a very generous offer and is something that you may be happy with in the short term, in the long term this is likely to crate unnecessary pressure. Not unlike children, we believe it is important that parents also have privacy and a space of their own.

I have a lodger in my spare room at the moment, but they will find somewhere else to live once I have a child placed.

Prior to us proceeding with an application with a prospective adopter, our adoption agency expect you to have a room available for a child, a spare room, or that you are preparing to have a spare room, by the time you reach Stage Two of the process (approximately two months in to the assessment process).

I will speak to the Local Authority/Housing Association about them providing me with a larger house so that I can adopt.

Unfortunately, normally the process does not work this way. At Adopters for Adoption you will need to have a bedroom available for a child by the time you reach Stage 2 of the process (approximately two months in to the assessment process). Most Local Authorities/Housing Associations will not provide you with a larger house unless you currently have the need for it – meaning that the house is not suitable for its current occupants. It is unlikely that your Local Authority/Housing Association will consider rehousing you in advance, but of course you are welcome to make enquiries with them. If they were willing to do so, we would need you to provide evidence of that commitment and furthermore would need assurance that you would have had time to settle in prior to any child being placed.

So what do we mean needing a ‘spare bedroom’?

You need to have an empty bedroom that is not currently being used by another occupant of the house, whilst you (and any birth children) also have a bedroom to call your own to be able to adopt. This will ensure that your adopted child has a safe, private space to call their own, no matter what the age of the child.

We would recommend avoiding the situation where your existing children are required to move rooms or give up a space in order to accommodate another child. In our experience, although existing children might agree to such arrangements, it can lead to resentment and rivalry between children in the long term This even applies to children who only live with you on a part time basis, but who currently have a room in your home. We never underestimate the sense of value and importance that a having a space of our own can mean.