Young people leaving public care in Romania are a group of youth at risk of social exclusion and stigma. The present paper aims to give voice to care leavers experiences of care and after care to make sense of how residential care, people's perception and behaviour towards them have contributed to their development of a stigmatized 'care identity'. The paper draws from findings from a qualitative study using the method of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) with 34 young people who had left care. The matrix of themes that emerged from IPA consists of seven themes: ending care, social transition to independent living, psychological transition to adulthood, identity, stigma, social support in transition, coping with transition (Dima, 2012). Struck by the preominance of the theme of identity which permeated the findings, and the acknowledged limited attention to this theme in the literature more widely, this paper reflects in detail on this particular subject. This article shows the extent to which young people brought up in care are at significant risk of developing a 'stigmatized care identity'. This impacts on how young people cope with life after care both socially and psychologically. Some recommendations for improving interventions with young people leaving care are offered by way of conclusion.