Research shows differences in gendered caring expectations between mothers and fathers across countries and how they are affected by the development of different family forms and cultural practices. In this study, we explore the meaning that 14 children and youths in long-term non-kinship foster care in Spain ascribe to their birth mothers. We found three main perspectives among the participants. Within these perspectives, age, gender and socio-cultural context seem to be intertwined in how children and youths in foster care perceive their birth mother’s role in their lives. The analysis gives insight into the complexity of child–mother relationships and how young people navigate these. In light of these findings, we discuss some practical implications for social workers in child protection services.