Foster Care

Aging Out: Young Man Writes a Letter to the Foster Care System that Failed Him

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

After spending 20 of his 21 years in foster care, separated from his siblings, and passed around between foster families and group homes, Noel Anaya recently aged out of the foster care system in the Bay Area. Noel and Youth Radio were able to record the young man’s last court hearing, which is a rare occurrence. In front of the judge, who called Noel “one of our more successful young adults,” Noel read a goodbye letter he wrote about his time in foster care, which he described as “gray hands.”

“This is the year that I divorce you…” Noel read. “Your grey hands can no longer hurt me, your grey hands can never overpower me, your gray hands can never tell me that you love me because it’s too late.”

Noel asked how a person like him could spend his entire life in foster care without finding a loving adoptive family. “I used to dream of it,” Noel writes in a story for Youth Radio. “Having a mom and dad, siblings to play with … a dog. But when I hit 12, I realized that I was getting old.”

Noel said he had hoped to graduate college before losing the benefits of foster care—including stipends for housing and food—but the young man is still a junior. “I’m committed to getting my bachelor’s, despite the odds being terrible,” Noel said. Fewer than 10% of foster youth obtain a degree. Many former foster youth become homeless within the first year of leaving the foster care system.

Despite fears about losing services provided by the system Noel said he was “relieved to finally get away from a system that ultimately failed me on its biggest promise: that one day it would find me a family who would love me.”

At the end of the hearing to bring closure to Noel’s time in the child welfare system, Noel asked that the judge bring down the gavel.

“You know we never do that in real life,” said the judge as he brought the gavel down.

Be sure to listen to the rest of Noel’s story over at Youth Radio.


  • “I am committed to getting a bachelor’s degree, despite the odds being terrible.”

    The odds are not that terrible; join the military, and go through on the G.I. Bill.

    • Your answer is to join the Army. I believe you should go to the Army because one wants to serve and second it has perks such as the GI bill. Not join risk your life after you have had a horrible one as it is then make sure to suffer from PTSD along with all the other issues from growing up in a failed system that you as a child have no say no control no love damn that sounds like the amry as it is. Maybe foster kids if they qualify they can get a free ride through collage. Like if the have high gpa and good behavior then give back to the child give them a chance. Us foster kids dont have a support system we get emancipated and shoved out and told oh Oh i wish we can do more for you but the budget doesnt allow or the system chooses to have a blind eye to the serious out comes for children whom were long term foster kids such as my self . They push the kids out and say they are no longer children so no longer in need of protection they do not teach basic life skills like banking saving money job search support systems bukiding a foundation continuos therapy because its needed medication is stopped because they arel no longer eligible for medical due to being adults so u get kids that have long term mental issues with no support and no foundation . kids end up in jail on the streets . Yes some kids got good homes and those homes go above and beyond for the child they took in. But tbe parents have to do it probono because tbey no longer get paid for the child. So yes u can find some ppl like that but 8 out of 10 will not have that kind of support. So Why the Army for a country that doesnt care about the kids of the sysytem when there hungry alone abused oh let the system take whatever they have left in their reserves to waste it on fighting . Now if they want to give back and want to serve by all means enlist but do it not because tbey have no other choice but because they want to fight for freedom for a change for America.

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