In this Book

NYU Press
summary

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.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  1. Contents
  2. p. vii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Chapter 1: Introduction
  2. pp. 1-14
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  1. Chapter 2: Portrait of a Foster Mother (1): "They're All My Children, They're All My Family"
  2. pp. 15-34
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  1. Chapter 3: Mothers and Workers: Becoming a Foster Mother
  2. pp. 35-62
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  1. Chapter 4: “I’m Their Mother”: Fostering, Motherhood, and the Construction of Kinship"
  2. pp. 63-83
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  1. Chapter 5: Managing Difference, Coping with Delegitimation: Foster Mothers as Nonmothers
  2. pp. 84-104
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  1. Chapter 6: Mothering Work and the Art of Fostering
  2. pp. 105-127
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  1. Chapter 7: Familial Changes: Integrating Foster Children into the Foster Family
  2. pp. 128-148
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  1. Chapter 8: “They Picked Up the Baby and the Baby Was Gone”: Mothering and Loss
  2. pp. 149-163
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  1. Chapter 9: Portrait of a Foster Mother (2): Motherhood, Loss, and Social Action
  2. pp. 164-185
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  1. Chapter 10: “I Wanna Make It through the Week”
  2. pp. 186-209
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  1. Chapter 11: Conclusion
  2. pp. 210-216
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  1. Appendix: About This Study
  2. pp. 217-224
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 225-231
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  1. References
  2. pp. 233-241
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 243-244
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  1. About the Author
  2. p. 245
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