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Adopted children and young people’s views on their life storybooks: the role of narrative in the formation of identities

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July 2016

This paper reports on interviews conducted with twenty children and young people adopted from the care system in England, exploring their experiences and views of their life storybooks and examines the role of life storybooks as a form of narrative that contributes to identity development.

Despite being a widely used intervention in direct social work practice in England and enshrined as a requirement in law for all looked after children placed for adoption there is little known about how children experience their life storybooks. The data revealed three core themes related to the child’s story, identity and communicative openness. These themes provide insights from the children about the levels of honesty in the narrative conveyed, concerns about gaps in their biographies, the importance of treasured material possessions alongside their book, their adoptive identity and the importance of different levels of openness in discussions about their adoptive status. There are a number of important practice implications outlined, as well as an identified need for more research on this topic.

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