Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


5.4 SOCIOLOGY, Social work., Family studies

Publication Details

British Journal of Social Work (2017) 47, 1394–1410.


While a wealth of literature exists on the topic of fostering, limited research has been published on the experiences of the biological children of foster-carers (Younes and Harp, 2007; Sutton and Stack, 2013). Literature that exists identifies increased recognition of the importance of birth children’s contribution to successful foster-care placements and the prevention of placement breakdown (Kalland and Sinkonnen, 2001; Hojer et al., 2013). This paper reports findings from an interpretivist study that explored the retrospective experiences of fifteen adult birth children of foster-carers (aged between eighteen and twenty-eight years) in Ireland. Using semi-structured interviews, birth children’s experiences of fostering processes and their interactions with fostering professionals are explored. Findings indicate that birth children are not passive observers in how fostering influences their daily lives. Instead they use strategies to influence fostering processes, in particular to protect their parents and birth siblings, while also having feelings of responsibility for their foster siblings. Findings suggest that, despite the complexity of the fostering task, professionals should recognise and acknowledge the input of birth children to fostering. The study also suggests the value of training that encourages foster-carers to continually include the opinions of their own children in fostering decisions.