For Love and Duty – Being a foster parent to a grandchild, sibling, niece or nephew

Project: Dissertation

Research areas and keywords


  • Kinship care, Foster home, Kinship carers, Upbringing by relatives, Doing family, Life course, Interviews


This dissertation focuses on kinship foster parents and their experiences caring for their kinship children, something that is rarely touched on in kinship care research. The primary purpose of this study is to, based on a life-course perspective and with family theoretical concepts, analyze what it might mean to take care of a family member’s child through a formal commitment such as a foster care home. What are the reasons behind this decision and how does the decision shape the continued life course? How do the kinship carers navigate
between the informal everyday life and the formal assignment as a foster home? How are the dual loyalties that arise through family relationships to both the child and the child’s parents handled? How can kinship care be understood in relation to concepts such as “family,” “home” and “foster home?” Kinship care and the kinship care family are analyzed from two focal points. First, that placement in kinship care is a social-services intervention, and second, that the kinship care family is a type of family with special inherent conditions. This dissertation applies the life-course perspective as theoretical orientation and analytical tool. The concepts of time and place, timing, linked lives and human agency are relevant in the analysis of my material. Family theoretical perspectives are also significant to the study and “doing family” is a key concept.
From 2011 to 2014, 31 interviews were conducted with 44 kinship carers in 31 different kinship foster homes, for which six municipalities are responsible for the placements. The two largest groups consist of grandparents and maternal aunts and uncles. Interviewees also include paternal aunts and uncles and sibling carers.
The term “kinship care” encompasses a multifaceted group of people and all
kinship carers have their own unique life stories to tell. The often winding paths
their lives have taken attests to the complex situation of kinship carers. Inherent
tensions crystallize in the dissertation that are particularly characteristic of the
kinship care family as such, as well as of the “kinship placement” form of care:
foster home and “regular” home; out of love and duty; formal assignment and
informal obligations; strength and fragility. What unites kinship caretakers is their description that they care for the child out of a sense of love and duty and that they carry out their assignment with great commitment. It is hoped that shedding light on the kinship care home, with its strengths, weaknesses and needs, will increase knowledge about this particular form of care so that support and interventions can be adapted accordingly. Another aspiration is to contribute to the diversity of family constellations in family research by adding a particular family constellation that is rarely described – the kinship care family.

Layman's description

När ett barn inte kan bo kvar hos sina föräldrar kan det placeras i
familjehem. Vissa barn får bo hos en släkting. Hur släktinghemsföräldrar
i Sverige ser på sin situation har hittills varit ett outforskat område. Vilka
drivkrafter finns bakom beslutet att ta hand om ett släktingbarn? Hur
navigerar släktinghemsföräldrarna mellan det informella vardagslivet och
det formella uppdraget som familjehem? På vilket sätt hanteras de dubbla
lojaliteter som uppstår genom att stå i familjerelation till både barnet och
barnets föräldrar?
Dessa och flera frågor besvaras av författaren som bygger sina analyser på
intervjuer med släktinghemsföräldrar bosatta i flera svenska kommuner.

Bakom begreppet släktinghem finns en mångfacetterad grupp människor
och alla har sin unika livshistoria att berätta. Den ofta krokiga väg som
deras livslopp tagit vittnar om en komplex situation.
Det som förenar dem är beskrivningar av kärleksfulla emotionella band till barnet.
Short titleFor Love and Duty
StatusNot started