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Coherent lives: Making sense of adoptees' experiences in education through narrative identity

Brown, Andrew ORCID: and Shelton, Katherine ORCID: 2023. Coherent lives: Making sense of adoptees' experiences in education through narrative identity. British Educational Research Journal 10.1002/berj.3918

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Children adopted from care become part of a hidden, but no less vulnerable, group in the education system and may be overlooked for allocation of additional support and guidance. Adoption is a relatively unique experience and adds layers of complexity, difference, and vulnerability, to young people’s lives that is poorly understood and under-researched. Adopted adolescents face significant challenges in social, emotional and behavioural aspects of school life. An attainment gap persists throughout their educational career. Adoptees are strikingly absent from many conversations regarding care-experienced young people yet their needs and challenges are comparable to their peers remaining in the care system. Assumptions are made about adoptees’ opportunity and capacity to recover; concealing challenges faced in adjusting to adoptive life, including education. The impact of adoptees’ early experiences could lead to complex identity formation processes during adolescence, with potential implications for education experience and performance. This paper explores the potential of applying a narrative adoptive identity perspective (Grotevant & von Korff, 2011) to answer questions about how adopted children and young people experience school as an adopted person; i.e. how does their lived experience as an adopted member of a school community impact on their engagement with school, schoolwork and peer networks? The concept of ‘communicative openness’ (Brodzinsky, 2014) is used to illustrate the vital role the school community plays in enabling adopted children to transition into and thrive in school. Taking a narrative adoptive identity approach may enable teachers to better meet adoptees’ specific learning and teaching needs as dictated by their unique experiences and enhance opportunities for better educational progress.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1469-3518
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 September 2023
Date of Acceptance: 22 September 2023
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2023 08:17

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