This study investigates the experiences of being adopted and in foster care for students in postsecondary education. It is a qualitative study conducted through interviews and comparing and contrasting those interviews. Results varied, but certain themes emerged, including a need to cope with lack of information (what will be called mystery), and to integrate self and profession (what will be called mastery), as well as individualized ways of this integration (meaning-making). It became apparent through this study that there are identity and cultural hurdles that students face as they transition to adulthood while in college. The theory of Ambiguous Loss (Boss, 1999), which results from separation from biological family, is combined with the ideas of meaning-making and learning theories and used as a framework to understand the findings of the study. Recommendations are suggested for meeting the unique needs of adopted and foster care youth who are transitioning to adulthood while in college, and are based on the literature and findings from interviews. The topic of separation from biological family and the resulting ambiguous loss is an important topic in postsecondary education because there is little research at this level of the impact of questioning one's biological background, with addressing issues of identity, belonging, and power as students move through postsecondary education.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. December 2015. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Irene Duranczyk. 1 computer file (PDF); iii, 585 pages.
Mystery, Mastery, and Meaning-Making in Postsecondary Education by Adoptees and Former Foster Youth.
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