“Everything started when…”

Illuminating rupture as a sensemaking catalyst in formerly fostered, emerging adults’ narratives


  • Lindsey Thomas Illinois State University


Fostered youth must make sense of transition, uncertainty, and disruption in the (culturally expected) life course in order to integrate these experiences into their life story and move forward. Yet, little is known about whether and how (formerly) fostered youth talk about their experiences and potential life course disruptions. Thus, the present study takes a narrative sensemaking approach to examining emergent themes across semi-structured, life story interviews with formerly fostered emerging adults, with the goal of illuminating the types of rupture events and experiences that permeate these stories. Thematic analysis revealed four rupture types that likely prompt sensemaking: rupture in the family of origin, rupture through relational separation, rupture in “The System,” and rupture created by stigma. Descriptions, examples, and implications of each of these themes are presented and discussed.

Keywords: Emerging adults, life course, life story interviews, narrative, rupture, sensemaking