The Experiences of Sudanese Unaccompanied Minors in Foster Care

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Abstract

Sudanese unaccompanied minors were separated from their parents in childhood and lived apart from their families in refugee camps for close to a decade before being resettled in the United States. This phenomenological study examines the refugees' experiences of living in American foster families after living in peer groups in the camps. Interviews with 18 young adults, 7 years after resettlement, revealed that nearly all of the youth struggled with parental authority initially, and nearly half of them changed placements because of relationship difficulties with their foster parents. Misunderstandings based on cultural differences often exacerbated conflicts. However, 15 of 18 youth currently had a positive relationship with at least 1 foster parent, sometimes with a parent from their second or third placement. Changing foster families is often considered a failure in the child welfare system, but several Sudanese youth reported that having supportive relationships helped them during the acculturation process whether those relationships developed during the first or last placement.

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