Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Eli Teram

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Foster families are intended to provide children at risk with a secure environment. But how secure is this environment for the biological children of the foster family? While foster parents may feel drained by the needs of the foster children in their homes, the biological children may feel neglected by their parents. How do these children respond to—and perceive—the reality of foster children in their home? To address these questions, nine children were interviewed individually. Five of these children were still living at home, four were adult children reflecting back on their experiences growing up. The results from these interviews were presented to the parents in two separate focus groups. The biological children of foster parents described their perceptions of the relationships between biological and foster members within their homes. Their conceptualizations are depicted and described here as ‘open boundary’ families, ‘solid nucleus’ families, and ‘partially integrated’ families. Parents reflected on these categories and suggested strengths and challenges for each category. Children and parents also identified key elements which contributed to their family’s ability to adjust to the needs of both the foster and biological children in appropriate ways.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season