Children’s relationships with birth parents in childhood and adulthood: A qualitative longitudinal study of kinship care
The topic of interest in this paper is the relationship between children who live in kinship care and their birth parents – through childhood and adulthood. The focus is on what meaning and content children themselves ascribe to such relationships and how this changes over time. To explore this question, we draw on a qualitative longitudinal data set, in which children who grew up in kinship foster care in Norway were interviewed over a 15-year period. We have selected three cases, where we follow two girls and one boy through their three interviews as children (T1: 11–12 years old), emerging adults (T2: 20–21 years old) and young adults (T3: 28–29 years old). Through the adoption of a methodological approach with similarities to biographical approaches, our analysis gives unique insight into the interviewees’ relationships with their birth parents – how they are expressed in each interview as their lives unfold and as circumstances change. More specifically, the analysis gives insight into different types of parent–child relationships and how they may change over time. However, it also shows that the interviewees have different resources available in managing such relationships. This is an issue rarely recognised in child welfare research or practice, yet it is essential if we want to understand the relationship between children who grow/grew up in foster care arrangements and their birth parents.
Accepted manuscript version. Published version available at https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325018784646.