Fosterbarnsindustri eller människokärlek : Barn, familjer och utackorderingsbyrån i Stockholm 1890-1925

Sammanfattning: Many Swedish children grew up in foster homes at the turn of the twentieth century. Contemporary medical professionals described foster care as an economic business: a foster child industry. The aim of this study is to analyze whether fostering could be seen as a market, which circumstances that gave rise to such market, and what happened to fostering in Stockholm when foster care was regulated in 1890–1925. Generation, gender and class are key concepts for this analysis. The study deals with approximately 400 children and 800 potential foster homes that were in contact with the Out-placement Bureau in Stockholm, run by the city’s Poor Relief Committee. Sources from the bureau is combined with material from Stockholm’s historical database. The thesis addresses questions on how and why children became foster children, what motivated people to be foster parents, how foster parents were selected and how the foster stay turned out from the child’s perspective. The placement of children could be done in various ways at this time in history. Previous research has mainly focused on state and philanthropic institutions which arranged formal foster homes. Individual persons who arranged informal foster homes for their children, have been less visible. It is concluded from this study that many children already lived in foster homes when the poor relief authorities got involved. It is argued that informal fostering was a form of child care used by single working class mothers. A reciprocal system, where children were placed within their mothers’ social network, was common. The Poor Relief was used to uphold this reciprocal system. This system limited the supply of children in need for fostering with strangers. At the same time there was a great demand for non-familiar foster children amongst potential foster parents outside Stockholm. Economic and demographic factors as well as norms, values and morals constituted and regulated the foster child market.