Stephene Diepstra, PhD, LMSW

An examination of foster parents’ and their biological children’s perceptions about the biological children’s foster care experience: A qualitative exploratory study

I used a semi-structured interviewing format with foster parents and their biological children in order to collect qualitative data about the children’s experience of being in a foster care household. I intentionally drew my sample from foster families who had been doing foster care for four or more years, in the belief that biological children who had been involved in providing foster care for a longer period of time would be able to provide a broader perspective on their experiences

Through interviews with 22 biological children of foster parents, I was able to discover that although many of the children at times found the foster care experience to be difficult, most of the children believed it to be a valuable endeavor that made a positive contribution to their personal development. The children were able to articulate that their experiences increased their sense of empathy towards and awareness of different life experiences. Several of the children indicated a desire and willingness to become foster parents themselves.

As there has been very little research exploring the perspectives of the foster parents’ biological children on the foster care experience, the knowledge gleaned from this study could be beneficial in the recruitment, training, and support of current and future foster families.