Detailed Program of the Conference

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The current Conference time is: 14th Aug 2022, 11:51:17pm CEST

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Overall view of the program
Parallel session - D.4.2 Adoption, foster care, and the complexity of education
Thursday, 03/June/2021:
2:15pm - 4:30pm

Session Chair: Monya Ferritti
Session Chair: Anna Guerrieri
Location: Room 5

Session Panels:
D.4. Adoption, foster care, and the complexity of education

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ID: 229 / THR-PRL-E1-D.4.2: 1
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Panels: D.4. Adoption, foster care, and the complexity of education
Keywords: Adoption, Parents’ and Teachers’ Training, co-responsibility family-school, Resilience, Empowerment


Alessia Tabacchi

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italia

In Italy, the “Guidelines for adopted students’ right to study” (2014) focus on the needs of adoptees in school and education. Unfortunately, this tool has not yet received widespread and homogeneous application throughout the country.

School placement, inclusion and the process of transition between the various levels and grades of schools, represent particularly delicate issues which require adequate support from all those involved in education (Guerrieri and Nobile, 2016). The entire process should aim to build helpful communication channels and liaison between parents and school staff in order to encourage children and teenagers to acquire a clear perception of self and promote inclusive attitudes among class members.

This contribution aims to examine the issues related to the joint responsibilities of school and family (Pati, 2019), based on the experience of an adoptive families’ association named AFAIV APS, that is active in promoting knowledge of adoption issues in schools through training courses held in the province of Varese. We will focus on the presentation of good practices emerging from cycles of thematic meetings for adoptive parents and from training courses addressed to teachers and educators.

These initiatives are devised for the purpose of increasing understanding of adoption issues, raising awareness about the needs of students who have been adopted and encouraging the discovery of tools able to be adapted to individual requirements.

The complexity of adoption raises questions related to educational issues. Adoption requires unprecedented skills in understanding cultures (Favaro, 2010), on the horizon of an educating community called to build good relationships and cooperative networks between school and family. From a pedagogical perspective, we aim to try to highlight some useful dimensions for the development of family resilience (Walsh, 2008) and empowerment (Bacharach, 1993).

ID: 118 / THR-PRL-E1-D.4.2: 2
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Panels: D.4. Adoption, foster care, and the complexity of education
Keywords: Identity, International adoption, School belonging, educational path.


Alessandra Fermani1, Morena Muzi2, Laura Catalini3, Gonzalo Del Moral Arroyo4

1Università di Macerata; 2Università di Macerata; 3Università di Macerata; 4Università Pablo de Olavide Siviglia

Much of the research on adopted children and their school commitment has compared them to their non-adopted and domestically adopted peers in relation to academic outcomes. Despite the preadoption adversity that many children experience, many adopted students have good school results. However, they are at greater risk of experiencing academic challenges, and the meta-analyses (for a synthesis see Fermani, Muzi, 2019) indicate that they display lower levels of academic performance than non-adopted students. The prevalence of international adoption rises a set of challenges regarding, in particular, the identity achievement and the strong impact of identity on the school results. Scholars (Cokley, 2007) define Ethnic Identity as the subjective sense of ethnic group membership that involves self-labelling, sense of belonging, preference for the group, positive evaluation of the ethnic group, ethnic knowledge, and involvement in ethnic group activities. Koenka and collaborators (2020) underline that perceived school belonging, or the sense of being accepted, valued, and encouraged by other in the school social environment is a key aspect of students' schooling experience. The inclusion sense has a positive impact on a variety of positive adjustment outcomes. Teachers have a fundamental role in this process but, despite Italy having from 2014 “Linee di indirizzo per il diritto allo studio degli alunni adottati” that pay attention to the formation of the identity of the adopted student and his inclusion, too few teachers are properly trained for applying their contents. For this reason, in the Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism at the University of Macerata, 128 students worked in groups (13 groups - about 10 students for each group of the Social and Family Psychology course studied) on the Guidelines and they proposed didactic units to address the issue of identity in the classroom of primary school with adopted students. To protect these students from future discrimination and moments of crisis, educational paths have been elaborated and the results of these works will be presented.


Cokley, K. (2007). Critical issues in the measurement of ethnic and racial identity: A referendum on the state of the field. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54, 224–234.

Fermani, A., & Muzi, M. (2019). La vulnerabilità unica in adozione: paradigmi teorici, ricerche e riflessioni. La vulnerabilità unica in adozione, 1-281.

Koenka, A. C., Anderman, E. M., Anderman, L. H., & Won, S. (2020). Associations between ethnic identity and motivational beliefs in internationally adopted youth and the mediating role of school belonging. Learning and Individual Differences, 81, 101909.

ID: 209 / THR-PRL-E1-D.4.2: 3
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Panels: D.4. Adoption, foster care, and the complexity of education
Keywords: socio-cultural belonging, international adoption, bicultural identity, school context, teachers’ perception


Eleonora Scalzo, Concetta Panarello, Leonardo Luzzatto

ASL Roma 2, Italia

In the field of scientific studies about international adoption, it has been taken in consideration the way in which the culture of the original country from where adopted children come from interacts with the culture of the adopting country.

In particular, a significant importance is given to the possibility to integrate the two different cultures into a single, unifying identity, which preserves each culture’s specific traits. Numerous studies underline how the perception of a bicultural heritage fosters the development of positive self-awareness a better psycho-social adaptation and reinforces the ability to face prejudice and discrimination (Benoit, Harf, Skandrani, Moro, 2015).

An examination of specific studies on this topic has evidenced the presence of two different approaches in relation to socio-cultural belonging in internationally adopted children. The Anglo-Saxon approach favors the development of a bicultural competence and the valorization of the original culture. The French approach, in line with a political trend which promotes assimilation, encourages the perception of belonging only to the culture of the welcoming country (Benoit, Harf, Sarmiento, Skandrani, Moro, 2018).

The socio-cultural context in which the adopted child is inserted influences his individual process of identity construction and the school environment has an important role in this complex situation. The school context, in fact, represents one of the main factors which influence the activation of psychological processes regarding identity construction and socialization in any school pupil and definitely also in the adopted ones and the influence of their teachers’ opinions seems to be of great importance.


The aim of this contribution is to widen the knowledge of existing studies in relation to how the school system considers the perception of socio-cultural belonging in internationally adopted children. Therefore, we have created a semi-structured interview, aimed at investigating the teachers’ perception of socio-cultural belonging in adopted pupils.

This study is part of a wider research, whose aim is to investigate the perception of socio-cultural belonging in internationally adopted children, exploring different viewpoints, namely from the child, the adopting parents and the social context.

A new element which differentiates the present research from those already conducted by others is represented by the choice to explore the role of the school context through the teachers’ perception on the matter.

The sample, formed randomly, is composed by teachers of kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school in the Northern and Central regions of Italy.

Considering the limited number of interview and taking into account that the sample is not representative of the whole population, the present research does not aim at reaching statistically significant data. The participants’ contributions, reported verbatim, have been qualitatively analyzed.


Benoit, L., Harf, A., Skandrani, S., & Moro, M. R. (2015). Adoption internationale: le point de vue des adoptés sur leurs appartenances culturelles in «Neuropsychiatrie de l'Enfance et de l'Adolescence», 63(6), 413-421.

Benoit, L., Harf, A., Sarmiento, L., Skandrani, S., & Moro, M. R. (2018). Shifting views and building bonds: Narratives of internationally adopted children about their dual culture in «Transcultural psychiatry», 55(3), 405-427.

ID: 233 / THR-PRL-E1-D.4.2: 4
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Panels: D.4. Adoption, foster care, and the complexity of education
Keywords: adoption, racism, sexism, intercultural education.


Stefania Lorenzini

Università di Bologna, Italia

Stefania Lorenzini - Università degli Studi di Bologna

The complexity of the experience of adopted children of foreign origin with respect to the adoption context is linked to a variety of elements that start from the events and difficulties experienced in pre-adoptive life and go all the way to the discontinuity produced by adoption itself with the profound changes it implies in terms of relationships, affection and communication, culture and language. These peculiarities of the adoption experience may be intertwined with other areas of complexity present in the new context of life. In a socio-cultural context such as the Italian one (but not only), which is often imbued with negative and demeaning stereotypes and prejudices, for example with regard to certain ethnic and cultural backgrounds and skin colours, as well as with regard to the female gender, episodes of discrimination can take place involving adopted children and young people of different origins. These episodes can be occasional or repeated, explicit and strong or implicit but pervasive, and in all cases they can have a significant impact on the personal well-being of each individual and the positive construction of their identity. This is all the more so given the fact that where characteristics that are possible targets for discrimination (such as black skin and being a woman) are concentrated in one person, the risk of incurring discrimination increases. Testimonies collected through qualitative interviews (carried out over the last 20 years, between 2000 and 2019) can take us inside the experience of young people adopted in Italy and of foreign origin, allowing us to identify elements of racism and sexism present in our socio-cultural context. These same experiences described and commented on by those who have been protagonists call for the need to become promoters of a wide-ranging cultural transformation. They also provide important food for thought in order to rethink and redefine the responsibilities and educational potential of adults in the family and at school, in a perspective that is both intercultural and gender-specific.


Bolognesi, I., & Lorenzini, S. (2017). Pedagogia interculturale Pregiudizi, razzismi, impegno educativo, Bononia University Press, Bologna.

Ferritti, M., & Guerrieri, A. (2020). Adopted students and intersectionality, starting points for a first analy-sis. Educazione Interculturale, 18(2), 59-69.

Lorenzini, S. (2019). Understanding and combating today’s racisms by studying history: the responsibility of intercultural education. Scuola Democratica, 4/2019, 245-262.

Lorenzini, S., & Cardellini, M. (a cura di) (2018). Discriminazioni tra genere e colore. Un’analisi critica per l’impegno interculturale e antirazzista, FrancoAngeli, Milano.

Lorenzini, S. (2019). Dark-skinned foreign origin young people, adopted by Italian parents. Stereotypes, prejudices and problems in identity construction. Civitas Educationis. Education, Politics and culture, Vol. 8, 1/2019, 115-129.

Lorenzini, S. (2013). Adozione e origine straniera. Problemi e punti di forza nelle riflessioni dei figli, Collana Genitori si Diventa, ETS, Pisa.

Lorenzini, S. (2012). Famiglie per adozione. Le voci dei figli, Collana Genitori si Diventa, ETS, Pisa.

ID: 893 / THR-PRL-E1-D.4.2: 5
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Panels: D.4. Adoption, foster care, and the complexity of education
Keywords: adoption, education, intergenerational educational mobility


Monya Ferritti1, Anna Guerrieri2, Luca Mattei3

1Inapp, Italia; 2Università degli studi dell'Aquila, Italia; 3Anpal, Italia

Students with an adoptive background are in a condition of multiple intersectionalities with an overlap of different identities: adoptive, ethnic, ability, which puts them in a position of possible multiple discrimination. For instance, they are often SENitized and schools often employ PDPs thought for students with SLD missing crucial issues such as the effects of PTSD and attachment difficulties, ignoring the hardship to deal with fragments of the past that need integration with the present. In such a way the medical determinants seem overrepresented underestimating any other identity component. To better assess critical issues and actual resources of such students and of their social environment, our work intends to investigate their educational choices in comparison with those of their adoptive parents and how this data vary from research on intergenerational educational mobility in Italy. We also want to better understand the outcomes of such choices and formative paths. The research proceeds qualitatively, targeting adoptive parents and adoptees by two different tools, one intended for parents and one other for adoptees. Parents, who adopted children born before 2002 in NA or IA, are involved via an avalanche sampling, randomly distributed, without statistical significance. Questionnaires are distributed with closed and open CAWI questions. Adoptees are involved similarly via a differently structured questionnaire. Both tools intercept the educational goals and achievements of adopted students and pupils. Particular attention is so devoted to critical issues in high school years, post-diploma education, first job experiences.


Monya Ferritti, Anna Guerrieri, Adopted students and intersectionality, starting points for a first analysis accettato per pubblicazione a Educazione Interculturale (2020);

Monya Ferritti, Anna Guerrieri, Luca Mattei, Adozione e scuola: la necessità di individuare i punti critici e accrescere la consapevolezza di genitori e insegnanti, accettato per pubblicazione su MinoriGiustizia (2020);

Monya Ferritti, Anna Guerrieri, Luca Mattei, Il percorso verso il successo formativo degli alunni adottati e alunni fuori della famiglia di origine: il ruolo della comunità educante, WELFARE E ERGONOMIA, 2020 Fascicolo: 1, P. 17-28, DOI: 10.3280/WE2020-001003

Ferritti M., Guerrieri A. (2019), When Adoption Becomes a Complication: First Evidence Regarding the Discrimination Suffered by Young Adoptees in Italy Due to Phenotypic Differences and/or because of their Adoptive Identity, in Proceedings of the 1st International Conference of the Journal Scuola Democratica “Education and postdemocracy”, VOL. 1, Politics, Citizenship, Diversity and Inclusion, pp 208-214 – ISBN 978-88-944888-0-7

Migliarini V., Stinson C. e D’Alessio S., (2019), ‘SENitizing’ migrant children in inclusive settings: exploring the impact of the Salamanca Statement thinking in Italy and the United States, in “International Journal of Inclusive Education”, 23:7-8, 754-767.

Vinnerljung, B., Lindblad, F., Hjern, A., Rasmussen, F. e Dalen, M., (2010), School performance at age 16 among international adoptees: A Swedish national cohort study, in “International Social Work”, n. 53(4), pp. 512-527.

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