I recently was inspired to a different perspective on foster parenting. It arose from a conversation about whether person x should act on their impulse to try foster parenting. Person x was asking me and some others for advice about what it is like etc. etc.Usually I say something that focuses on the importance of foster parenting to the lives of children in need of care. Often I talk about the skills that are helpful in fostering, the challenges one should be ready for, and other such ideas.
But how to prepare someone in simple terms for foster parenting? In simple, clear language? Foster parenting is messy. It often lacks clarity. No simple "do x and do y and z will happen". No "this child will be with you for x months." No definitive answers regarding bio parents. No promises of "successful" outcomes [however you define success]. It is not neat... it is messy. It is not neat physically, emotionally, psychologically, or in any way shape or form.
Foster Parenting is messy.
ANY kid of parenting is messy some of the time, but in traditional parenting there are some pretty dependable absolutes. Not so in foster parenting. Pretty much everything is up for grabs. If you need absolute order, foster parenting is not for you. If you need clear answers and dependable outcomes, foster parenting is not for you. Foster parents need to be able to accept messy situations without being shaken. Parenting as a work of art is more graffiti-covered than Michelangelo.
On the other hand, much of what is of value in the world is messy for at least part of the process. I doubt even Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel was always clear, always neat, always according to the schedule or the plan. Pottery that is gorgeous requires getting dirty literally up to your elbows as the wheel spins. A garden that bears delicious bounty involves a lot of mess in the process. I don't need to keep going.
Image credits and thanks to: simonmarsh.org, messycanvas.com