Making new lives after exiting care: social orphans in Latvia

Ilze Trapenciere, Zoë Kessler

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


This study intended to conceptualize the experiences of Latvian young adults with a social orphan background.  Understanding the narratives of young people with a care background contributes to demystifying stereotypes and assumptions about what it means to grow up in care and create a meaningful and purposeful life after exiting social care. Through snowball sampling, there were nineteen participants selected for life story interviews. The research process in this study recorded the participants’ life experiences in great detail, covering three main life phases: 1) before placement in care, 2) while in care, and 3) transitioning to independence. As a result of the detailed data collected, the researcher employed several strategies to create meaning out of the narratives including a collaborative co-research method with the participants. A thematic analysis through NVivo software was completed as well as an analysis of Context, Critical Events and Acts of Resistance. Participants' lived experiences revealed some commonalities: factors that preceded children entering care, occurrences from care and life trajectories post-care. Notable were multiple stories of resistance to adversity, resilience and hopefulness in creating new lives full of possibility. Often the lives of social orphans are explored in the third person through methodologies that held participants in a passive role rather than an active one. This study positioned participants as 'experts of their experience' and 'co-researchers' to best understand the lived experiences of social orphans in Latvia.  These young people exiting social care are surrounded by narratives of failure. Despite this, there are also narratives of success, hope, and resiliency.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
EventRSU Research week 2021: Society. Health. Welfare - Rīga, Latvia
Duration: 24 Mar 202126 Mar 2021
Conference number: 8


ConferenceRSU Research week 2021: Society. Health. Welfare
Internet address

Field of Science*

  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


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