7 Things Your Foster or Adopted Child Needs to Hear from You

Really Any Child Needs to Hear!

Words we say. Words we don’t say. Both are powerful. Lately I am learning the hard way. I have said some things to a loved one that hurt deeply. I am also guilty at times of not saying something when it’s needed.

I think our society is losing it’s ability to talk to each other in ways that edify. I’m not sure what the cause is or what that reflects, but I don’t think it’s a good thing.

We don’t understand the power that is found in our tongue; our words.

A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.James 3:5b-6 NLT

James has a lot more to say about the powerful nature of our tongue. Our tongue can build up or it can destroy.

Whether a foster or adopted child is a few hours old or in their teens when placed in our home, they need the transforming power of edifying words spoken into their lives.

Unless you are an overly positive person (or amazingly controlled by the Holy Spirit), you need to be intentional about speaking these words of affirmation, encouragement, healing, and hope.

7 Things Your Foster or Adopted Child Needs to Hear from You:

  1. You are safe. Trauma puts a child on high alert. Many times we label them as hyper-active when they are hyper-vigilant. They can’t let their guard down. They are constantly observing their environment looking for danger. They can never hear too much from us that they are now safe.
  2. You can act your age. Especially children who have spent some years in foster or institutional care have lost their ability to just play. They probably had to make too many decisions, take care of younger siblings, or again, protect themselves. This robs them of their childhood. They need to gently hear over and over that it’s ok to be a child.
  3. Yes. I far too often default to “no”. Sometimes it’s, “no, No, NO!” I consciously look for opportunities to say yes. Many times I stop myself when about to say no and ask myself if it’s possible at all to say yes.
  4. You matter. The deepest wound is neglect. A child, who no one notices, rejects, or abandons,, struggles with self-worth.
  5. I notice you. You are seen and heard. Of course we notice them when they misbehave. Often a child from a hard place misbehaves for many other reasons other than rebellion. What about when they act as we want them to act? Our children need random, unsolicited words of praise and delight.
  6. You belong. Every child needs a sense of belonging. In my conversations with people who aged out of the foster care system, one of the most powerful sources of healing for them was knowing that they had a place of belonging. Even if a child is in our homes for a matter of days, we can speak this into their lives. We don’t need to withhold out of a fear of experiencing our own feeling of loss.
  7. You are loved. Of course every child needs to know they are loved. A child from a hard place may pull away from touch, but you can always express proper words of affection. Yes, sometimes we need help in feeling affection for a difficult child. Yet, if we want to help that child heal…

What words that build up would you add to this list? 

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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