They'Re All My Children

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Overview

The first book on foster care written from foster mothers' perspectives, They're All My Children voices the often painful experiences of contemporary U.S. foster mothers as they struggle to mother and care-work in the face of exploitative social relations with the state. Drawing on extensive ethnographic research, Wozniak, herself a former foster mother and an anthropologist, presents and analyzes women's personal stories about fostering to reflect on the larger socio-cultural context of American family lifenamely, how we think about kinship, identity, and work. Foster mothers construct enduring kinship relationships with children, and often with the children's biological families. These relationships enhance children's chances to growth and thrive and in turn extend women's kin relationships into often distant and disparate communities. Wozniak also highlights the economic side of fostering to show how foster mothers are both mothers and workers; foster children are both providers and provided for, adored sentimental children and economic figures.

Through in-depth interviews and participant observation, Wozniak argues that we have not gone far enough in understanding the experiences of these women whose life work lies outside the usual boundaries. Nor have child welfare gone far enough in revising the theories upon which child welfare policies are based. Foster mothers and their experiences challenge the patriarchal, nuclear family ideals upon which foster care programs are based, a challenge that They're All My Children takes forward.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A foster mother herself, Wozniak brings particular poignancy and insight to this fascinating look at motherhood and social policy. Her interviews with foster mothers are coupled with research on who foster mothers are and why they foster….Wozniak also looks at the larger issues of women's roles in society and how we handle the needs of displaced children. . . an important but little-researched topic."

-Booklist,

"[A] thoughtful and well-researched book."

-Reference and Research Book News,February 2002

"Wozniak presents a very readable analysis of the broad challenges facing foster families...This book is important for anyone in the social work or family services field."

-Choice,

Reference and Research Book News
[A] thoughtful and well-researched book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814793466
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2001
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 0.75 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

A former foster mother, Danielle Wozniak is Assistant ResearchProfessor of at the University of Connecticut.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
2 Portrait of a Foster Mother (1): "They're All My Children, They're All My Family" 15
3 Mothers and Workers: Becoming a Foster Mother 35
4 "I'm Their Mother": Fostering, Motherhood, and the Construction of Kinship 63
5 Managing Difference, Coping with Delegitimation: Foster Mothers as Nonmothers 84
6 Mothering Work and the Art of Fostering 105
7 Familial Changes: Integrating Foster Children into the Foster Family 128
8 "They Picked Up the Baby and the Baby Was Gone": Mothering and Loss 149
9 Portrait of a Foster Mother (2): Motherhood, Loss, and Social Action 164
10 "I Wanna Make It through the Week" 186
11 Conclusion 210
App.: About This Study 217
Notes 225
References 233
Index 243
About the Author 245
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