Thursday, July 12, 2007
This presentation is part of : Family Health Issues
Foster Mothers' Transition to Motherhood
Mikki Meadows-Oliver, PhD, MPH, RN, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Specialty, Yale University School of Nursing, New Haven, CT, USA
Learning Objective #1: discuss six pertinent steps in the analysis phenomenological research data.
Learning Objective #2: identify five relevant aspects of the transition to motherhood process for foster mothers.

Purpose: While much has been written about the transition to motherhood, there is a paucity of research related to this process for foster mothers. This study researched the transition to motherhood in women caring for foster children.

Method: A descriptive phenomenological design was used to discover participants’ meanings of their experiences. A purposive sample of eight foster mothers participated in the study.  The participants were between 41-51 years of age and all were of African-American ethnicity. Each mother was interviewed once and the interviews were transcribed verbatim. The procedural guidelines of Colaizzi (1978) were used to analyze the data.

Results: Five themes emerged from the in-depth interviews. 1). Entre to Foster Care: Each foster mother described how she became involved in the foster care system and her experiences of adjusting to becoming a foster mother; 2) Difficulties in Dealing: Foster mothers spoke of dealing with a variety of complex issues related to foster care such as dealing with the social services system and dealing with the children’s biological families; 3). Putting Life on Hold: After becoming foster mothers, many felt that their lives consisted of only work and caring for their foster children; 4). Lacking but Needing Support: Foster mothers spoke of feeling burned out and not receiving the needed support when caring for their foster children 5) Claiming the Foster Children as Their Own: After an adjustment period of dealing with stressors and difficulties, foster mothers claimed the foster children as their own.

Conclusions: This study shed light on foster mothers’ experiences of their transition to motherhood. Nurses working with foster families may help these mothers by recognizing that they may face issues similar to those of new parents.  Nurses may provide support and refer mothers to the appropriate resources for assistance in dealing with their stressors.