Australian foster carers' negotiations of intimacy with agency workers, birth families and children
Riggs, Damien Wayne
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This article seeks to examine what are argued to be a particular set of non-normative relationships between Australian foster carers, the children in their care, the children’s birth parents, and agency workers who act as legal guardians for children who are removed from their birth parents. Eighty-five Australian foster carers participated in interviews on the topic of foster family life. Coding of responses to questions related to agency workers, abuse allegations and birth parents suggested a novel topic of ‘intimacy’ in regards to foster carers’ experiences of these three areas. Findings indicate three key themes within the overarching focus on intimacy: (a) the impact of abuse allegations on foster family intimacy, (b) the intimate presence of birth families and (c) what are termed ‘awkward intimacies’ with agency workers. While such intimacies may be viewed as non-normative, they nonetheless would appear to play a formative role in interactions between all parties, and thus warrant ongoing attention.