Too Vulnerable to Participate? Challenges for Meaningful Participation in Research With Children in Alternative Care and Adoption

In recent years, a significant amount of research has been conducted with children from a rights perspective, especially concerning the right to be heard and participate. However, children living in alternative care and adoption have often been excluded from participating in research because they are viewed as vulnerable children who lack agency and also due to an adult-centric perspective of protection. In this article, we challenge this idea under the view that participation is a main component of protection, children are experts in their own experiences, and their views should be considered through participative research design and methods. Particular challenges that protection contexts impose for research are analyzed and several ways in which these challenges can be faced are outlined. We provide principles and examples that can be implemented to ensure that children who live in alternative care or adoption have the right as any child to be informed, be listened to, and have their views considered regarding topics that affect them.