Three moms in the first four years of life would confuse any child. So there is little wonder that my son has a hard time understanding love—trust is an intricate part of love, and trust has been broken too many times for him.

My son’s sweet former foster mom had nursed him through a rough couple of years as he struggled with abandonment and fear. Life in her quiet home with just the two of them was very different than our noisy home with a large family. I discovered that in my son’s eyes “love” was frequent dinners at restaurants and a lot of one-on-one time. But with a houseful of children, one-on-one time is significantly shorter, and dietary issues and expense prevent us from eating out very often. So confusion over this concept of love was expected when he joined our family.

A wise woman (his therapist) introduced the idea of redefining love for our boy.

Love is more than emotion, it’s a choice and an action.

I began explaining to him that I clean his laundry because I love him. I prepare healthy meals for him because I love him. I snuggle and read stories with him because I love him. But the real reason I love him? Because he is a precious creation from God and I have been blessed with the privilege of loving him as his forever mama.

[verse reference=”1 Corinthians 13:4-7″]Love is patient, love is kind…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.[/verse]

Every night as I tuck my little boy in, I cup his face in my hands and say “Do you know that you are my very favorite 6-year-old boy in the whole wide world? I do not love any other 6-year-old boy as much as I love you. Jesus loves you and so do I!” And he is finally learning to reciprocate that love.

{Editor’s Note: Julia’s words here have been a lifeline to many an adoptive mom. We wanted to re-share this heartfelt post that was originally posted in 2014 as we know the value this advice holds and pray just the right moms read it!}

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  1. Thank you for sharing! We adopted 2 boys from foster care, and this is one area they struggle with. We also have a large family. This is great advise!

    1. Julia DesCarpentrie says:

      Thanks for sharing, Gretchen. I also recommend The Five Love Languages for children to help you learn how to love your boys. Would love to hear what works for you! Julia