The storied experience of foster carers’ own children.
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Foster carer’s own children (FCOC) have proven to be contributing members of the foster care team that can affect the success of placements, yet there is limited research on their experience. This thesis describes a study that explores how foster carers’ own children narrate their experience of foster care using a qualitative approach. Two female and two male participants aged 20-24 were recruited by self-selection through fostering support agencies from the Canterbury region, and interviewed about their retrospective fostering experiences. Narrative analysis informed the method and the interviews were analysed using narrative performance analysis with thematic underpinnings. The themes that emerged within and across the narratives were consistent with the existing literature, yet the narrative analysis discovered nuances that have previously been overlooked.
Seven overarching narrative themes were present across the four interviews: ‘fostering was the carer’s altruistic choice’, perspectives of FCOC change over time, ‘fostering became the family’s main focus’, foster children were perceived as active agents by FCOC, ‘foster agencies still have work to do’ in order to improve the experience for families, FCOC believe that their parents deserve to be treated better by society and the system, and lastly that fostering is not a vocation any of the participants will be choosing in the future. The performance analysis additionally discovered three roles performed by FCOC during the interviews, the ‘objecting’ role, ‘parental child’ role, and ‘good person’ role. Implications of the findings and recommendations for the future are suggested in the discussion, including providing more support for FCOC and consideration of their needs to improve their experience and contribute further to the care that they provide foster children.