Many couples and families part of the tiny house movement and community find themselves wondering if they can grow their own little community through adoption or fostering. There is nothing more rewarding than being a mom and dad, and for whatever reason you might have – whether you do not want to experience being pregnant in a tiny house or you would just rather adopt – adoption or becoming foster parents is always a great answer.
But can you actually adopt in a tiny house? Many of us have an idea that adoption is already a difficult process; what more if you live in a non-traditional house, built for an entirely different lifestyle?
The answer is yes, you can definitely adopt in a tiny house, but only if your tiny house meets the standard requirements. While there are a few specific requirements that we will get into further down this article, the most pressing requirement that potential tiny house adoptive parents must understand is the sizing and bedroom requirements.
These requirements vary from state to state, but there are a few general rules that will apply wherever you might live.
Does a Foster or Adopted Child Have to Have Their Own Room?
Simply put, whether you live in a tiny house or not, every child must have their own bedroom space. While children can sleep with other children, some states will specify that they need a certain amount of space per child living in the room (around 45 square feet per child, and children older than 6 cannot sleep in or share the same room with opposite gender individuals). There should also be enough play space and outside space, as well as bathroom privacy.
While these requirements may be more difficult to fulfill in a tiny house than a normal house, and can be frustrating for tiny house parents who just want to offer a home to an adoptive child, it is important to note that there are no rules specifying that children cannot be adopted into mobile or traveling homes.
This means that as long as you build adequately sized bedrooms and fulfill the other (easier) requirements, your home should be an ideal place for adoption or foster care.
Home Size Requirements for Adoption
Home size requirements will be the biggest hurdle for any tiny house family looking into the foster care system. Firstly, requirements for the size of the home are determined by each American state. Some states do not specify the exact size required for a house, a bedroom, and for the play space, and instead individually judges each home by the agency representative during the inspection.
Other states do specify specific space requirements, but these numbers vary by space. In general, you can expect to have average space requirements of:
- 45 square feet of space for the bedroom for each child living in it for share
- 75 square feet of space within the house not designated for food preparation or sleeping which can be used for play space
- Adequate play space outside the home (which shouldn’t be a problem for tiny houses)
Other requirements your state may or may not have related to the size of your home include:
- Working smoke detectors around all sleeping areas
- Carbon monoxide detectors around the home
- Working fire extinguishers (portable) to share for all bedrooms
- Working telephone and other appliances
- Appropriate ventilation, lighting, and heat
- Child must have their own bed or crib meeting all safety standards
- Children older than 6 cannot share the same room with someone of the opposing gender (exceptions can be made for siblings in some cases)
- Children cannot be stuck in a room or vehicle with someone who is smoking
- Pets must be vaccinated and prevent no hazard to the children
While we understand that some of these home inspection requirements can be frustrating for those living in a tiny house, it is important to remember that the foster care system and adoption agencies involved must ensure that every adopted or fostered child is sent to a home that can provide all their basic and psychological needs and safety.
With that said, let’s take a look at the general adoption or foster home inspection checklist, and what points may be more relevant to those living in a tiny house.
Adoption or Foster Home Inspection Checklist
A family looking to adopt or go into the foster care system should be aware of the general foster home inspection checklist. Some of the items on the general adoption or foster home inspection checklist can be more difficult to fulfill in the smaller and more cramped space of a tiny house. This checklist is used for the home inspection for both possible adoptions and foster care.
We’ve gone through the official checklist and pulled out those that might be an issue for families living in a tiny house; these are listed below. For the full foster home inspection checklist, you can access it here.
- Handrails provided when necessary
- Available age appropriate activities and furnishings
- Tamper-proof electrical outlets
- Children cannot access: alcoholic beverages, guns and other weapons, ammunition, flammable materials, and cleaning supplies
- At least one telephone is present for emergencies
- Adequate laundry facilities present
- Bathroom allows absolute privacy
- Water comes from approved private supply or public system
- House should have at least two exits
- No obstacles around stairway, windows, or exit ways
- Bedroom windows can be used for emergency rescue if necessary
- Multi-level home must have a way to escape from the above-ground floors
- There must be at least one working fire extinguisher
- Adequate ceiling height
- Children older than 6 should not share the same bedroom with opposite gender individuals
- Each child must have their own 27-inch wide bed
- A maximum of 4 children per room
- Upper bunks cannot be used if there is a possibility of danger
- Beds for toddlers must be adequately sized for comfort
- If a mother shares a bedroom with her infant, the bedroom should be at least 80 square feet
- Children older than 1 should not sleep in same bedroom as parents
- Children must sleep in a proper bed – no mattress on the floor, futon, sleeping bag, or other sleeping accommodations
While some of the requirements might be difficult to meet in a tiny house, it is important to remember that these rules can vary according to your area, and considerations can be made in certain situations. For the best answer on whether your family can adopt or take in a foster child while living in a tiny house, call your local adoption or foster agency directly.
Is it Ethical to Raise Children in a Tiny House?
As explained above, the question of whether you can adopt while living in a tiny house depends on your local laws as well as whether your tiny house complies with the requirements for a standard adoption or foster care.
But there is another question that is perhaps more important to ask yourself before going through with any adoption: is it ethical to adopt a child into a tiny house? Is it ethical to raise any child in a tiny house?
There are a few crucial considerations that a family must think over before adding a new member to their tiny house space, but perhaps the most important thought to consider is:
Does the Child Want It?
Some parents looking into adoption forget to consider whether their home or lifestyle fits with the needs and wants of the child they are adopting. We often think that a child without parents or a home will be absolutely grateful just to have a loving family and a nice place to call home, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
A child in the foster care or adoption system isn’t like a child you might have naturally with your partner. The older they are and the more they understand the situation they are in, the more they will shape their own expectations of what foster parents or adoptive parents and a home might be like.
Tiny House Living is a Choice: Are Your Children on Board?
Remember: your tiny house lifestyle is a choice, and it’s a choice you made with the consideration of every family member involved. Living in a tiny house requires the willingness and consent of everyone in the family; when living together in such a small space, a single unhappy family member can make everyone’s lives miserable.
Not everyone is comfortable with the tiny house lifestyle; some of us have greater sensitivity to personal space and quiet alone time to satisfy ourselves psychologically. For some people, children included, not having access to our personal standards of space and alone time can have a devastating effect on our mood and happiness. I
f you end up taking in a child who would much rather live in a normal housing lifestyle, you are depriving them of a possible childhood of their dreams. There are many common expectations that a child would miss out on or experience differently when living in a tiny house, such as:
- Less privacy as they grow up
- (Possibly) No consistent neighbors or schooling
- No stability of location, if you use your tiny house to move around often
If a potential adoptive child has been informed of the tiny house lifestyle of their potential adoptive parents, and if they still show a willingness to proceed and move in, it is important to truly assess as to whether the child is truly happy with living in a tiny house, or if they are simply desperate to leave the foster care or adoption agency system.
It’s all about confirming absolute consent and making sure they willingly choose your tiny house lifestyle as much as the rest of your family has.
Ready for Adoption in Your Tiny House?
The biggest obstacle between you and your potential adoptive or foster care child is your willingness to explore the option and see what is required in your area. After all, thousands of children are adopted and sent to loving foster homes every year, so it definitely can’t be as hard as you might imagine.
Make your family and your personal tiny house community bigger with a new child brought into your loving tiny home. Call your local agencies today and see what requirements are relevant in your area. Good luck!
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.