This study describes the transition towards independent living of 123 former fostered young people reared for long periods in a private French organisation, SOS Children’s Villages. Three generations of care leavers were analysed through a postal survey and interviews. Their narratives show typical pathways after leaving care. Two-thirds became independent without major problems by the age of 24–25. Analyses have shown that the absence of severe emotional and behavioural disorders, and diplomas obtained, improved their odds of becoming independent. Results suggest a vital need to implement appropriate therapeutic care during placement and to develop care leaver support well beyond the age of 18, in order to help them personally and academically and to ensure their successful transition to adulthood.