Brown, Andrew

Andrew Brown
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
The Identity of Adopted Adolescents
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Katherine Shelton (Cardiff), Cerith Waters (Cardiff)
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This study seeks to explore and understand an identified disparity in educational experiences and outcomes between adopted children and their non-adopted peers. Specifically, adopted children as a cohort form a hidden and vulnerable group potentially as a result of policies and systems that belies an incomplete understanding of the transition between care and adoption. Consequently, robust data for this group are virtually non-existent; recently available data illustrate significant underperformance for adopted children.

For adopted children, the processes of adolescent identity formation, emotional development and academic experience are challenging because their notion of family and the past contains additional layers that may not be fully formed, known or understood. Early experiences of loss, separation and attachment difficulties could create an altogether different developmental trajectory, the impact of which is only beginning to be realised. A common misconception is that a stable adoptive environment is seen as a cure for their earlier troubles.

The aim of this studentship, then, will be to examine the psychological identity of adopted adolescents and consider how this relates to mental health, relations with parents and peers, and academic and career aspirations.