Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2-1-2008


This article has been peer reviewed and published in the Journal of Family Nursing Volume 14, Issue 1, February 2008, Pages 74-96. The published version is available at . DOI: 10.1177/1074840707313337. Copyright (c) Sage Publications.


The experience of parenting foster children with chronic illness and complex medical needs was explored in a phenomenological inquiry with 10 foster families. Thirteen participants currently fostering chronically ill children with complex medical needs were interviewed. Recorded interviews were transcribed and analyzed using van Manen's method. Data analysis yielded five essential themes: Foster parents described being committed to the child in their care, coming to know the needs of a medically complex foster child, and identifying effective and ineffective interventions encountered through day-to-day living with a medically complex child. Furthermore, they shared what it was like to experience loss of a child through relinquishment and death. Last, for these parents, fostering children with complex health care needs was a life-changing experience. The findings show that parenting a chronically ill foster child with complex medical needs is a multifaceted experience having implications for multiple disciplines.

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