The Continuing Family Relations of Children in Care

Jennifer Rasell - Care of the State



Research has rarely looked at the relations of children in care to their birth parents and siblings, the image of the orphan seemingly having blocked such a perspective. The various examples in this chapter from Care of the State: Relationships, Kinship and the State in Children’s Homes in Late Socialist Hungary  show that children in care continued to have relations with their parents either figuratively or actually. I explore how carers and teachers viewed the involvement of parents in the lives of children in care as a pendulum between emotional closeness and risk of abuse. Certain children in residential care seem to have felt more secure and emotionally close to the children’s home and its staff whilst others—mostly those who came into care later—had stronger attachments to their birth families. The second part of this chapter considers how state actions and officials shaped the sibling relations of children in care and how the children themselves made sense of such relations in different ways, often rejecting siblings attributed solely on the basis of biology.