“How can I properly love my foster child like one of my own biological children?” This is a common question that comes up for many people when they open their home to children in need. It can feel overwhelming to take in a new child who you desire to love deeply, but are unsure as to whether or not it will be received or reciprocated.


Acknowledging your attachment style and past trauma can help you better learn to love a foster or adoptive child. Whether your adult attachment style is secure, or leans more towards anxious or ambivalent, confronting what past events may have caused you to enter this attachment style can aid you in recognizing any blind spots or triggers you may have when caring for children with trauma. With this new lens, you will better understand the need behind the behaviors and reactions your foster/adoptive child is showing in order to love them through these challenging moments.


As a reminder, love is not just giving a hug or saying, “I love you.” Love is also shown through how emotions are controlled. Removing envy or hatred and inviting patience and kindness is what God wants us to embody as His people. Set this intention as you learn to love a child who has been through trauma. Once you’ve taken a step back to reflect on those two points, try out these three steps in order to show unconditional love to your foster/adoptive child:

    • 1) Look for the need behind the behavior. Think about the emotional things you do based on a need. Do you get angry with people when you’re tired, or ignore people that have hurt you? Do you get bossy when you’re hungry or shut down when you’re feeling overworked? For children, many times, these actions or behaviors are a direct result of a need they are feeling, but because of they are young and underdeveloped, they aren’t able to put it into words on their own. In order to find their need, just ask them. Ask them why they may be acting the way they are. Sometimes they won’t be able to verbalize this, but many times it is a simple answer that can be confronted and solved! This avoids any thoughts of, “Am I the one causing this behavior?”
    • 2) Identify the child’s preciousness. When a meltdown to certain behavior is happening, it’s easy to put blinders on and only thing about the present moment and how difficult it may be. Each child is precious in the eyes of God, and so many moments show the goodness these children are experiencing, so it’s crucial to not get caught up in the moment. One way to do this practically is to keep track of special moments and memories with your child! When you’re playing board games together and they are filled with joy, or when they are learning lessons you teach, write these actions down in a journal or on a board to remember the growth happening every day and the happiness you’ve both felt in the past. Go back to these moments especially when it may be difficult to love.
    • 3) Remember why God called you to this role of fostering or adoption. You had a movement where you knew you wanted to make a difference in the lives of children in crisis. You felt the calling placed on your heart, and finding that memory can bring you back to ground zero. Try writing specifics on why you got involved in foster care to reference back to when things are hard. When the nights feel long and you get tired, remember that these children’s lives are being transformed because of the work you’re putting in.


Love can be shown in so many different ways. Many foster/adoptive children have not been shown the type of love they deserve, and you are changing that every day.


“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)