This published study, under Journal title: Children and Youth Services Review, was conducted and compiled by Drs. Elizabeth Aparicio and Edward Peckonis, University of Maryland, School of Social Work, through the assistance of Hope Forward, Baltimore, Maryland; and funded by a grant from the Elsevier Foundation.
Teen mothers in foster care may experience their role of mother as a source of new beginnings: identity, love, and hope.
They may simultaneously struggle with negative childhood experiences that can overwhelm their best intentions to parent well.
As such, support is needed to maximize opportunity and minimize risk within these young families when a teen birth occurs.
Findings suggest foster youth require comprehensive sexual health approaches addressing trauma, loss, and attachment needs.
The study employed Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the experiences and meaning of motherhood among teen mothers in foster care. Through a series of 18 in-depth, semi-structured interviews exploring experiences of both being mothered and mothering, the six young women in this study shared their stories of living the reality of becoming mothers under extremely challenging circumstances and doing their best to thrive. Themes of darkness and despair, (e.g., substance abuse, poverty, and child maltreatment) glimpses of light in the darkness (e.g., relationships with their partner’s family), and new beginnings (e.g., identity as mother) emerged as characteristic of their experience. Implications for practice, policy, and research in the areas of teen pregnancy prevention and support for family strengthening are offered.