Pin It
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

The Sleep Habits of Orphans

sleep habits of orphans — incultureparent

From the time my kids have been home, they have demonstrated some strange ideas on sleeping. On Friday nights, we let them have more freedom to sleep all together, or in playrooms or around the house. (Usually they sleep two to a room.) One time my girls came downstairs while I was cleaning the kitchen on a Friday night really excited. They were in their pajamas, with pillows, blankets, toys in hand. “Mommy we have a great idea! We want to sleep in the kitchen.” Although I give them a lot of leeway on the weekends, the kitchen was off limits.


Some orphans have slept on the streets prior to being adopted. Mine had sometimes slept in haystacks near the animals. Some slept in small houses with one room where 25 people would sleep. At the orphanages they would be in these bunks three high with 40 to 60 kids in one room. As a Westernized society we can pile our judgment onto them and think, “Poor kids. I bet they would really like their own rooms with all of their own stuff. They have nothing!” We forget that many of the kids LOVE to sleep in odd places. It makes them feel safe under the bed or snuggled up next to each other. Two of my kids don’t like the fitted sheet so pull it off to sleep on the bare mattress. All of them can be found from time to time with blankets over their heads, sleeping cocooned inside their little safe havens.


Although, I think it’s important to teach kids about boundaries and rules, when we adopt, we have to be really careful to pick our battles. I remember seeing a TV episode of a couple who never had any kids but then adopted three from Russia. They ended up reversing the adoption because at bedtime they would have these brutal battles to get the kids into bed. In one scene, the kids were hiding under the beds because they wanted to sleep there. The parents were incensed and physically fighting with a screaming child to lay in a twin bed. By disrupting the adoption and sending the children back because of their rigid belief, that family damaged the children they adopted by making their fears come true in rejecting them.


In the morning, I often never know how I’ll find my kids. This particular morning made me laugh as there are four kids in one room. Here are the pictures.


Matea and Ella are both on the floor on a makeshift mattress.





Jared had all the bedding pulled off of the twin bed, with only his super hero sleeping bag. I have also found him sleeping with his feet on the floor and head in the seat of a cushy chair.




Here’s a room shot…it looks awful but just how they like it.




Grace is in there somewhere too but she kept the sheet on. I have found her sleeping in chairs before.




My attitude is that as long as they get enough sleep and aren’t cranky during the day for school, they can sleep in the same room sometimes. That night was one of them.

© 2013, Deanna Jones. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:

Why African Toddlers Don't Have Tantrums

The secret of why African babies don't meltdown like Western ones.

Are Germans Really Rude?

This German dad shares his thoughts

Around the World in One Semester

Welcome to our newest blogger--a world traveling, homeschooling mom--to the InCultureParent family!


Deanna Jones is the author of the number one Amazon adoption book To Be a Mother and is the founder of Mother of the World (

Leave us a comment!

Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.
[…] the breastfeeding culture in Mongolia compared to America. Did you have any idea that something as simple as breastfeeding attitudes can […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
My mother born in the 1930's is originally from the northern part of Germany. I am in my mid fifties and have a terrible relationship with my mother. She is domineering and hurts those where it hurt...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] JC Niala, InCultureParent […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] […...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Although humanity is one Man (in a generic sense, including woman)has identified himself endless groups, religious, nationalistic, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, etc. Once you separate ME from YOU on...
From What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation
[…] […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Some great tips here but not many working mothers could feed baby every hour especially if you work in a major multi-nationa...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
So true!!! Thanks for being so honest and self reflective. It's a proof of true characte...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
As a first-time mom I've spent the last two months of my four-month-old's life stressed out about her sleep and I recognize how crazy this is. It's clearly not working for me! I'm wondering how non-...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep

More Becoming Us: Adoption