Due to the ever-growing crisis of orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa, research into strategies of care remains a crucial pursuit. Models of care in the country currently range from informal to formal, including informal fostering / non-statutory foster care; community-based support structures; home-based care and support; unregistered residential care; statutory adoption and foster care; and statutory residential care. This research study focuses on the area of adoption and fostering. Existing adoption and fostering research, locally and internationally, concentrates on the adopted and fostered child with little consideration given to parents. Mothering adopted and foster children in South Africa is a specifically under-researched area. This research contributes within this field, specifically, by exploring how women who have adopted and/or who foster children construct mothering and how these constructions intersect with dominant discourses of mothering. This qualitative study utilises a postmodern and poststructuralist ontology, and both social constructionist and feminist epistemologies. In-depth interviews were conducted with 21 adoptive and foster mothers and data were analysed through discourse analysis. Ten key discourses and eight main constructs emerged. Participants engaged with discourses of natural mothering, and good mothering in which the constructs of the good mother, the good adoptive mother and the good foster mother operate. These two broad discourses are informed by the construct of the family. Constructions of adoption and fostering are formed in relation to notions of the family; and this family construct also largely informs and is informed by the discourse of legitimate belonging, the construct of the child; and the discourse of collaborative parenting. These discourses and constructs have conversations with and are formed in relation to broader discourses of gender, race, culture and HIV/AIDS. Adoption and fostering occur in relation to discourses that operate within the institution and in relation to dealing with the institution as a construct. Finally, engagement with these discourses and constructs inform how the discourse of support is constructed in relation to adoptive and foster mothering. Through exploring these constructs and discourses in relation to one another, three key arguments emerged. The first relates to a mechanism of how the ideology of intensive mothering operates through the manner in which it constructs natural mothering and good mothering. The second conclusion reached is that ambivalence is a key component of the constructions of adoptive and foster mothers. Thirdly, the study indicates that the construct of the good mother, as it operates within the ideology of intensive mothering, is resistant to deconstruction. After proceeding through the analysis, and exploring how the findings intersect particularly with discourses within the ideologies of patriarchy, technology, capitalism and race, the study offers specific recommendations for the support of adoptive and foster mothers.