Families come in all shapes and sizes, and each one is unique in how it operates.

Let’s face it — being a parent is a complicated job and comes with a great deal of responsibility. Outside of simply caring for your child’s physical needs, you also need to support their emotional and cognitive development. This can be difficult for any parent but, for adoptive parents, there are often additional challenges to overcome.

Regardless of your situation, there are a wealth of resources that can help you deepen the relationships within your family and strengthen your parenting skills to be able to provide the best support and care for your child.

What is NCHS’s Families Forever Program?

Families-Forever-LogoFamilies Forever supports families formed through guardianship or adoption by connecting them to the resources they need. Our program is built to help you tap in to your parenting skills and work together to strengthen your family’s relationships. By offering a variety of educational resources and one-on-one support opportunities, parents can learn new strategies and connect with peers who have experienced or are experiencing similar situations.

One of the greatest things about NCHS’s Families Forever program is that it comes at no cost to you. Participation is voluntary, allowing you to choose how long you wish to receive our resources and guidance. Our program offers you the support groups, training, and connections to community services you need to thrive as an adoptive or guardianship family.

Removing the Stigma That Adopted Families Are Perfect:

Every family faces its fair share of challenges. When you share a home and a life, moments of turmoil are sure to arise from time to time. Adoptive families are just like every other family: a beautiful mess that is perfectly imperfect.


Let’s face it — parenting is one of the most important and challenging jobs in the world. Interestingly, it’s also the one job we are often the least prepared to do. Children don’t come with an instruction manual, so the roadmap for a successful home environment might not always be so clear. Most parents do the best they can, but nobody has all the answers. Getting a fresh perspective and advice from outside of the family unit can help a struggling parent learn new strategies and see a better way forward.

As an adoptive family, you are not alone. Chances are that many of the challenges you face are commonly shared by other adoptive families. Some of these struggles include:

Answering Difficult Questions

While all children will have questions that their parents might have difficulty answering, you’re sure to face some challenging and unique questions from your child as an adoptive parent. One unique challenge is that sometimes you might not be able to share certain answers with them.

Some questions you might encounter include:

  • Who is my birth mother?
  • Where is my biological parent(s)?
  • Why didn’t my parents want to keep me?

Children are bound to be curious, and these emotional questions might be difficult topics of conversation for you and your children. As an adoptive parent, you need to be prepared to have these discussions as a family. These questions typically are brought up at times you might not expect it! It’s good to have a plan in place for answering these questions.

NCHS advises you to be honest with your child, always. If you don’t know the answer to the question being asked, it’s okay to let them know that! You can always take the time to find the answer before responding. We also advise adoptive parents to not use bias, negative tones, or negative context when talking about birth parents or families. It is important to let your child form their own opinions.

Tip: You can even ask other adoptive parents how they’ve handled these topics with their own children!

Navigating Physical Differences

Sometimes adoptive parents look similar to their children, while other adoptive parents have more obvious physical characteristics that make it known they are not the biological parent. Adoptive parents often face challenges surrounding their physical differences that biological parents do not. If you look different from your child, you may face some challenges down the road when your child is old enough to become aware of the differences. Adoptive parents would benefit from a support system to rely on to help them feel understood and heard when dealing with these situations.

Emotional Trauma

One fact about adoption is that some adoptive children have experienced past trauma that may impact their health and development. Children who have experienced one or numerous adverse childhood experiences may have developed behaviors that have helped them cope with the traumatic events. Still, these coping mechanisms often present themselves as challenges in their new homes. Adoptive parents need to give their children the time it takes for them to feel safe and comfortable in their new homes. Adoptive parents can be prepared for these situations by educating themselves on signs of trauma. By recognizing trauma triggers, adoptive parents can stay ahead of the issues and seek help if necessary.

Attachment Troubles

It’s no secret that adoptive families can face challenges and disruptions to childhood development. When children are young, they are very impressionable with what skills they develop and the beliefs and values they hold. When these children are adopted, it can make this process more complex. If the attachment process gets disrupted in early childhood, it can be difficult for children to form healthy relationships and feel safe to play, learn, and develop. Adoptive parents will need to have a strategy in place to identify any issues before they get out of hand and how to tackle these kinds of developmental barriers.

Why Is It Important For Adoptive Parents To Find Support?

One key benefit of adoptive parenting support is that it provides parents with a safe setting to evaluate their parenting methods and ask questions that have been bothering them. This judgment-free setting is a place for parents to feel heard and learn about what resources and support are available to assist them. When we educate parents on the different parenting strategies and resources available, it empowers them to choose a method that works best for themselves and their families.

Research has found that these sorts of support classes and groups have helped to increase the relationships between parents and children. When adoptive parents are trained in how to act with emotional intelligence and adjust their strategies for communicating with and disciplining their children, children’s positive behaviors and overall well-being improve significantly.


When adoptive parents are trained in how to act with emotional intelligence and adjust their strategies for communicating with and disciplining their children, children’s positive behaviors and overall well-being improve significantly.


Seven Core Issues Families Formed Through Adoption Struggle With:

Within the adoption process, there are seven core issues that families face. Each family is unique, so one adoptive family’s challenges may not be the same as what another family faces. However, these seven issues often manifest within families that have been touched by adoption. Below we outline the struggles families often face. Later, we will break down the outlets and options available for support and overcoming these challenges.


It’s normal for adopted children to feel loss when they think of their birth parents, even if they are happy with their adoptive family situation. Throughout their developmental stages, adopted children may feel this loss more prominently.

For adopted parents, the feeling of loss derives from the struggles and tribulations they faced in the journey towards adoption. By not giving birth to the child they are parenting, they may feel as though they’ve missed out on some of the processes.

Birth parents can also feel a sense of loss after choosing adoption for their child, as they decide to transfer their parenting role. This is normal, as it takes time to process the emotions and thoughts that they are no longer the ones providing nurture and care to their child.


Understandably, adopted children often feel rejected by their birth parents. This, in turn, leads them to avoid situations or relationships in which they think they might face rejection.

Sometimes, adoptive parents feel as though their children are rejecting them. This can be tough to grapple with, but remember that these emotions are simply reactions to the current situation. Over time your adopted child will open up more and be more affectionate.

With the birth parent, rejection can stem from feeling inadequate as a parent. When they see their biological child being cared for by another family, they can feel as if their child has replaced them in their role.


Guilt and shame are often prominent feelings that adopted children grapple with. Sadly, many adopted children feel that there is something intrinsically wrong with them, which is why their birth parents did not want to parent them. This simply is not true. Adoptive parents need to teach their children that they are perfect the way they are and that they deserve love.

Societal expectations can make adoptive parents feel guilt or shame as well. For years there has been a stigma that adoptive families are somehow different from biological families. Shame can surface when adoptive families hear criticisms and comments from others.

Birth parents can feel shame and guilt as well. These emotions come from feeling a sense of guilt for not providing the level of care and love necessary for a child to thrive. But, it is essential to recognize that choosing adoption for your child in some scenarios is the best avenue, as it allows them to get the support they need from a loving family.


There is no game plan for how an adopted child should grieve the loss of their birth parents. Everyone handles difficult situations in their own way, so adoptive parents need to respect these boundaries while still providing support wherever possible. It is important for a child to feel as if they can express and process their emotions.

For many adoptive families, the journey to becoming parents is long and difficult. Feeling grief over unborn children is a common occurrence. As their adopted child grows up and starts wanting to learn more about their biological parents, adoptive parents can also feel grief over the scenario.

When it comes to birth parents, the grief is focused on the loss they feel when they choose adoption for their child. It is normal to feel upset over giving over your role as a parent. Birth parents would benefit from finding a support system with which they can healthily express these feelings.


Often, it can be difficult for adopted children to feel confident in their identity and who they are. Sometimes, they may feel incomplete and lost due to their genetic and family history gaps. To help combat these feelings, adoptive parents can answer questions from their children and help them to figure out their personal identity as they grow and develop.

We commonly see adoptive parents also struggle with their identity. In some cases, they may not feel like the child's real parent or may feel as though they are not entitled to act as the real parent. Having a peer network of people who have experienced or are experiencing similar situations can help you work through these emotions.

Birth parents struggle with their identity in terms of their role in their biological child’s life. When they chose adoption, they handed over their parenting responsibilities, but what kind of involvement are they allowed to have in their child’s life? These complex questions need to be processed and discussed deeply to create a healthy mindset.


One common trouble that many adopted children, especially those with multiple placements or histories of abuse, have difficulty with is creating intimate and meaningful relationships with members of their family. Often, negative experiences in their early life can have a detrimental effect on an adopted child’s ability to form an intimate relationship.

Adoptive parents can struggle with intimacy by feeling sad or angry their child is not as affectionate as they would like. Parents need to remember that it can take time and a lot of energy to create a deep relationship and that it won’t happen overnight. There are countless resources, support groups, and peer programs that can help adoptive parents craft a strategy for bonding with their adopted children.

When it comes to birth parents, the struggles with intimacy center around not understanding the level of love and care they can provide to their biological child. Since they are no longer acting as an everyday parent, there can be a sense of dissonance with wanting to create an intimate relationship with your child while still respecting the boundaries of the adopted family.

Mastery and Control

Some adopted children engage in a power struggle when entering a new household. They’ll argue or fight with their adoptive parents in an attempt to feel control over their situation. This stems from the feeling of losing control when they underwent the adoption process.

At our core, human beings want to feel control over their lives. Adoptive parents struggle with this control since they no longer were in charge of when and how they became parents. There can also be a struggle for control within the house as you adjust to your new home life.

Commonly, birth parents emerging from the adoption process feel powerless. Once the parental rights are transferred, birth parents can feel as though they are not in control. Adoption is a big decision, and it can feel overwhelming to decide what is best for you and your child.

How Can We Help Families Formed Through Adoption?

NCHS offers connections to a variety of services aimed at helping families deepen their relationships and cross over the bridge into thriving. These services are provided at no cost and are not obligatory. For a comprehensive list of services and offerings, take a look at our Families Forever program page.

Some of the services we offer include:

One-On-One Parenting Support

Sometimes it can be daunting or difficult to ask for help in a more public setting. That’s why NCHS has connections to one-on-one parenting support so that you can feel comfortable asking for support or asking your questions in a more private setting. To inquire more about our one-on-one support opportunities, reach out to our team today.

Community Referrals

NCHS is well-established in the community and surrounding areas. Our team works hard to stay updated on the latest community programs and services so that we can refer families to the right kind of support and resources they need.

Connected to Mental Health Services

Through our Families Forever program, we can provide you with a connection to the mental health services you need to keep your mind and body healthy. These services are not an obligation, only an opportunity for you to speak with certified specialists should you feel you need the extra support and advice.

Connection to Respite Opportunities

In some situations, our team can help to connect you with respite opportunities. Respite care entails temporary, short-term relief for primary caregivers. It is important to note that respite care is not available for all situations. To learn more about whether respite care is an option for you, reach out to our team for more information.

Mentoring Programs

At NCHS, we believe that it is incredibly beneficial to hear and learn from people who have experienced a situation similar to your own. That’s why our team will work to connect you with a mentoring program so that you can build a relationship with someone that has the experience and advice you need to succeed.

Support Groups

You might feel alone in this journey, but nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that there are thousands of parents out there experiencing a situation similar to yours. With countless support groups and peer groups out there, we can easily help you connect with like-minded people who are looking for advice and support, too.


Just because you are a parent doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything more you can learn or expand upon! Our no-cost, no-obligation training courses are built to help you uncover your innate skills and strengths as a parent and expand and capitalize on them.

How Do I Access These Resources?

By looking into the support and resources available to you, you’ve already taken the first step. While it may be scary having to ask for help, know that there are thousands of families out there just like yours. Together we can navigate the challenges you face and overcome the barriers in your home environment.

Getting access to our resources and services is easy. For families in Nebraska with children under the age of 21, all you need to do is visit our website to get more information. Or, youcan even give us a quick phone call, and our team will be there to help. Our staff will connect you with someone who can help you navigate your current situation. Together, we can start your journey of building a more profound and stronger relationship with your family.


Since 1893, NCHS has held the fundamental belief that children come first.

By providing a variety of services, community resources, and educational programs, we work to help you make an informed decision regarding your parenting role.

Our services range from educational classes for new parents, family-centered activities to encourage fathers to become more involved in their children’s lives, support groups for grandparents caring for their grandchildren, and connections with certified specialists to help you determine the best course of action for you and your family.

Regardless of where you are in your parenting journey, we can connect you with the resources you need to strengthen your skills and make an informed decision.

Families Forever is a program of