The family in the view of Israeli adolescents in foster care

Michal Mahat-Shamir, Bilha Davidson Arad, Guy Shilo, Ronit Adler, Ronit D. Leichtentritt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Summary: This qualitative study explores the unique views about the family system held by adolescents who have spent years in foster care in Israel. This inductive study is among the few to address the unheard views held, and the salient challenges faced, by adolescents who have not grown up in their biological parents’ home, with a focus on their view of the family. Findings: Participants’ demonstrated conflicting, polarizing perceptions of the family: (a) family is a genetic system: blood is thicker than water; (b) the family system is constructed and limited by terminology; and (c) communication is essential to family life. Applications: While the first two themes highlighted the participants’ family of origin as their “true family” the last theme emphasized on the foster family as their “true” family system. Synthesis between these views could not be achieved as informants embraced the social expectation perceiving the family as one. Raising social and professional awareness about the difficulties these young people face partly because of an exclusive social view of the family lies in the sphere of interest and the social work professional expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-221
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.


  • Social work
  • adolescence
  • children and families
  • foster care
  • narrative approaches
  • qualitative research


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