A Room of Her Own

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Dimples’ visit last weekend gave us opportunities to think about what she is going to need to be successful when she comes home. On the very top of the list is a bedroom of her own.

Over the years, we’ve had a lot of drama at bedtime; since the four girls shared a room and the little boys were in the room right next to them, everyone suffered. None of the children, including Dimples, had a place that felt safe – a place where they could go when things were difficult. In the worst times, the other children would all go in my room and lock the door with instructions not to come out until an adult came to get them. This may be hard for some of you to imagine, but I am actually trying to write this delicately without sharing more than I should.

It was very frightening for our entire family – Dimples included. She was in total fight/flight mode, reliving trauma from her early life.

We wanted to spread the children out, but there was nowhere to go. We have eight acres around us, so we considered building an addition. We dreamed it, designed it, and some days I feel I could walk right into it. But it wasn’t a realistic financial possibility. I wrote a series of posts about our thought process, if you are interested (links are below).

We thought the remodel would be done by now, but in reality, we have barely begun. Between Russ needing to take on extra work to cover the cost of residential treatment, and then injuring his back, we have barely scratched the surface.

As we prepared for the visit, we knew we needed Dimples to practice having her own room, so Samuel and Isaiah gave her theirs for the weekend. When I told her about this plan, she decided she wasn’t going to come home. She argued and made accusing comments, but finally was able to talk about feeling sad and being scared to be in another room. We made a plan that would help her feel safer: lights on in the closet and bathroom, a monitor so she could call us if she needed us, and her mp3 player on the nightstand.

As we moved through the visit, it was strikingly apparent that having her own room is essential for Dimples. When I tucked her in at night, I knew that every child in our home was safe. I knew that if Dimples couldn’t sleep, her siblings still could. I knew that if she needed extra lights, it was no problem, because the other children wouldn’t be disturbed. And she had everything she needed.

As I look ahead toward her return home, I imagine Dimples’ room. I see her favorite colors on the walls, fun bedding, a bulletin board with pictures and things she loves. Although she has her own room at her school, she’s not sure she’ll like it. My hope and prayer is that her room will become a safe and cozy place where she can go when she needs space or needs to regulate herself.

Deep in my gut, I think this bedroom has the potential to make a significant difference in Dimples’ ability to succeed at home.

If you would like to read my previous Home posts, click below:

Home: Square Footage vs. Debt

Home: Debt, Faith, Blessing

Home: A Realistic Look at Finances

Home: Barn Storage

Home: Moving Forward

Have a great day, friends.

Lisa

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Emily B
    November 14, 2013

    I just prayed that God will miraculously provide for Dimples' room. We're having to move because we have two children who need their own space before further healing can occur. I understand how critical this is. I can't wait to see how He will meet this need for you!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2013

      Thank you, Emily. I am glad you realize that your kids need this space to heal. Children with trauma bonds need a very safe spot of their own.

      Reply
  2. Sandra Zimmerman
    November 14, 2013

    Lisa, we are in the same position. We have room to build, just not the financial means to do so. B is planning to come home in January and we do not have a room just for him. My husband is still trying to contact the township to get our plans ok'd. B needs his own room so he feels safe, the other children feel safe and so My husband and I can sleep knowing everyone is safe. Blessings as you begin transitioning Dimples home. I am so amazed at how your journey parallels ours

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2013

      Blessings to you too, Sandra. You are not alone.

      Reply
  3. Sarah
    November 14, 2013

    Hi Lisa!

    I've read your blog for a while but never commented, and it's wonderful to hear how much progress Dimples is making and how well the visit went. I am very happy for you all!

    I do wonder about how you were able to bring home 4 children (2 older) in the space of 2 years where none had their own room? I'm simply asking because here in the UK to foster or adopt a child it's essential you already have a room to be that child's own for the very reasons you describe above. Children who have experienced trauma can have challenging behaviours and need extra support, as you well know, and so an individual room is mandatory to protect other children and the fostered / adopted child. It would also be impossible in the UK to bring so many children so quickly into a large family – how do you think this has affected Dimples' and the other children's attachment and progress?

    I really think you and your family are doing a fantastic job and your love for your children shines through with every post. As a trainee social worker, I just feel you were let down by a system where professionals left you open to such dangerous and harmful situations through not having these safeguards, or at least advice, in place.

    Once again, I'm so happy Dimples had such a great visit and she looks set to have her own room soon! Thankyou for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2013

      Sarah, thanks for the comment. I don't have time for a lengthy response (running out the door to Bee's therapy appointment), but separate rooms are not required for adopted children in the US. It's possible that some agencies may require them, but I haven't heard of any. However, now that we've walked this road, I would strongly encourage anyone bringing home an older child to try to give that child their own room. I would also suggest simple safety plans that include doors open at all times, etc. Our children who lived in orphanages are often very traumatized and we would be wise to be as proactive as possible. Thanks so much for the comment – you've broken out of lurk-dom!

      Reply
      1. Sarah
        November 25, 2013

        Hi Lisa,

        Thanks so much for getting back to me! I really didn't want to sound like I was criticising in any way because as I say, you and your family clearly love all your children very, very much and you are doing a brilliant job of walking a very hard road right now. It was just sad to see so many problems which should have been avoided through more thorough social work at the start – and yes, doors open at all times is another absolutely essential one. Thankyou for sharing your journey with us and for sharing what you've learned about adopting older children with other adoptive and prospective adoptive parents!

        Reply
  4. SleepyKnitter
    November 14, 2013

    When our oldest two daughters arrived in our home, we put our three girls in one room and our toddler son in another room, but it was apparent to us early on that our new 14-year-old needed her own room. All our Chinese friends strongly said no, no, that would be terrible isolation for a Chinese person, let alone a person who has grown up in an orphanage, that would feel like punishment, it would be too frightening and lonely, even if she hated being in the bedroom with the two younger girls, no, don’t even think about it!!!! But after three months and for the sake of peace in our home, we broke down and did it against everyone else’s advice. We moved the toddler to our bedroom and gave his room to our oldest daughter, and it was the right choice. She could keep her light on at night, she could listen to her music she could self-regulate from whatever had been happening elsewhere in the home, she had a “safe place”, and she didn’t do or say things that frightened our younger children. I pray that God will provide whatever you need to prepare this “safe” room for Dimples!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2013

      I thought that having the girls together would comfort them too, but like you, it really was not a good situation. It sounds like you found a good solution.

      Reply
  5. I have 4 all adopted. And a 4 bedroom home, so 2 of them are always sharing. In the past 2 1/2 years I feel like we've played musical rooms trying to continually meet all of their needs. My oldest is the one we havn't moved. Not even once! He just NEEDS his own room. He NEEDS a place that is his and his alone that he can be to regulate. And a safe place I can separate him to. He has sleep issues, anger issues, attachment issues… He still fusses and fumes sometimes because his siblings share a room and why does he have to be all by himself and it's not fair and etc. But we work through it.
    God has blessed us recently and we are finally able to build a house that will actually fit our family. Each of the four will have their own room (very small ones) and I can hardly wait the six months it will take for that to become a reality! Because that alone will resolve SO many issues!
    You are meeting a need for Dimples AND the rest of the family! Your posts, your faith, inspires me.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2013

      Jennifer – yay that you can build a house with enough bedrooms! That is wonderful. Separate rooms are a necessity for some of these kids. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  6. Claire
    November 14, 2013

    Two unusual but inexpensive bedroom solutions that I have seen came to mind. We had neighbors who turned their garage into a bedroom by building an interior wall about 3' from their garage door. If you opened their garage door from the outside there was about 3' of space to put the lawnmower, rakes, etc. On the inside they threw down carpet and painted the interior walls. Probably your older boys would be more likely to think this is a cool living space. It doesn't take too much to redirect a heating/cooling duct into the garage. When you don't need it any more it is all easily removed.
    The other thought is that I have known a couple of parents to throw down a mattress in the living room for a year or two. The idea of this horrifies me too because I know how much I needed my own space during those tumultuous years. But depending on your house layout it might not be too bad to have all the main living space and kitchen to yourselves at night, temporarily. A murphy bed would probably make this easier too. I know the Lord will inspire you with a workable solution. Blessings.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2013

      Thanks for some great ideas, Claire. BTW, I love your name – it's one of my favorites.

      Reply
      1. Claire
        November 14, 2013

        Aw, thank you Lisa!!

        Reply
  7. Rebekah
    November 14, 2013

    We just split one room into 2 small rooms to make this happen. I did not want to do it but it was a must! They are small but very cozy rooms. I know they like them even if they do not want to admit it!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 14, 2013

      I agree, Rebekah. Small and cozy sounds good to me.

      Reply
  8. Katie
    November 15, 2013

    We have three girls in one room who are 6, 4, and 3. Plus the toddler in the closet off their room. I have to lay in there with them until they all fall asleep because I can only imagine the chaos the would reign if I didn't. I often lay there dreaming of how to divide the two very large bedrooms and two very large closets into four smaller bedrooms and a big room for us. Because of the layout, it really wouldn't take much. It would just be enduring the trauma of construction and we just don't feel ready for that.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 16, 2013

      I understand the not being able to endure anything more, Katie. Maybe once you get some strength back, you can go forward with the project. Blessings to you.

      Reply
  9. Kirsten
    November 16, 2013

    I have been following your blog for awhile now when I came across it from a friend who adopted a child from South Africa. My parenting journey is very different from yours, but I understand your need/desire to have enough space. My husband and I have 4 kids. Due to some poor financial decisions we made early in our marriage, we live in a 2 bedroom home. It's not ideal, but until we get back on track and pay off our debt, it will have to do. Our 3 oldest (ages 4,6,8) are in 1 room and our 1 year old is still our room. Most days it works and the kids get along great with sharing, but other days it is complete choas.
    Blessings to you and your family.

    Reply

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