The Emotional Nature of Birth Family Relationships for Care-experienced and Adopted Young People: A Longitudinal Perspective

Montserrat Fargas Malet, Dominic Mc Sherry

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Abstract

Research focused on relationships and contact with birth family for children
and young people who were separated from them as infants has rarely
acknowledged the emotional and dynamic nature of such interactions.
Curiosity has been dominant in adoption research. However, in our
longitudinal study of young people who entered care at a young age, a
range of other feelings and combination of feelings emerged in the youths’
narratives, including contentment and mixed feelings such as anger, affection,
loss, guilt, or worry. Type of placement, that is, whether the young people
had been adopted, lived with kinship foster carers or non-relative foster
parents, did not determine their emotional reactions to their birth family.
The young people’s perspectives and emotions often changed over time. In
this article, we describe the young people’s emotional responses to birth
family, and highlight implications for theory, research, and practice
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Early online date16 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • emotions
  • birth family
  • contact
  • adoption
  • care experienced
  • longitudinal

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