Saturday 25 January 2020

Not Completely Childless

The other day I wrote a list of children-under-19 to whom I have some sort of tie and came up with 24 of them. That was unexpected and made me feel rather cheerful. The thing is, I do rather like children, as anyone who has read my blog for any length of time must know. That said, the children I meet are usually my relations or the offspring of friends and likeminded acquaintances. I do not know   how I would cope as a full-time schoolteacher. Schoolteachers in Scotland quit in droves

Today, thanks to the deficiencies of the bus station, I missed my bus to my homeschooling gig. I was so cross I got my fare back, went to the railway station and took a train and then a taxicab to my pupils. I had done quite a lot of preparation for a new writing student, and I was darned if I was going to delay my lesson plan. I arrived in time for lunch, after which I had my first lesson with this new pupil. It went very well. Then I had a lesson with my veteran students, which also went very well.   

It is great fun to visit a household of happy, well-behaved children. Well-behaved, in this context, means disciplined enough to have relatively good table manners and amiable enough not to strike or mock each other (much) or talk back to their parents (often). Even in such well-regulated households there are always elements of spontaneity. Someone loses a diaper, for example, or writes a sudden poem, or needs me to see their new fish, or has an observation about the National Hockey League to share. 

I am always grateful to be welcomed into the household of such families. Needless to say, space is often at a premium and children in large families share rooms. It was a shock, then, to discover this week that in Scotland, a couple is not allowed to adopt more than one child unless each child gets his own room. My informant hopes to adopt two children, but the plans have been delayed until this second bedroom can be assured. This makes me think that two lonely or frightened children are going parentless because bunkbeds are considered insufficient for their needs.  

Really, one of the cruellest sentences in the English language must be, "You can always adopt." No, you can't. You might not have enough bedrooms, for a start.  But if you're lucky, you are or become the kind of person who gets invited to be a family friend. 


  1. Why does Scotland have such a requirement? It's very common for siblings to share rooms and they're able to manage. You'd think that what with all the children who need to be adopted that they'd see that they're turning away acceptable parents.

    1. I don't really know. What I do know is that Scotland is desperate for foster parents. I can't even get my mind around how difficult it would be to be a foster parent to strangers' children as a childless foreigner. I probably wouldn't qualify anymore because of my religious beliefs. Foster parents are state employees, basically.

  2. I’ve heard variations on that bedroom rule, which vary by locale. I think once the paperwork has been signed and the kids are legally adopted, nobody has any authority to demand that they be in separate bedrooms anymore...but when deciding placement it can matter. I can understand reasons why you shouldn’t put adopted children of different sexes in the same room (even at an age when it might be okay for biological siblings) and I also just read that it’s advisable to put adopted siblings (that is, two children who are siblings and are being adopted together) in different rooms to encourage them to bond with the adoptive parents instead of relying on each other.

    So like many thing, it’s a rule put in place for good reasons but that feels ridiculous in particular circumstances.