For foster kids, life isn’t always the greatest until they are united with a forever family. But what about the ones that are never given the loving permanent home and family they deserve? In 2015 alone, 20,000 kids aged out of the foster care system across the U.S. and statistics show that many of these youth will have low graduation (high school and college) rates and are at a higher risk of being homeless, without a job, or worse — in prison.
So when Noel Anaya, at age 21, aged-out of the foster care system in California, he had a few words to share at the court proceedings.
Noel was placed in the foster care system when he was 1 years old, which means that his entire life was spent in foster care. He was never united with his five siblings who were also in the foster care system.
In a podcast on Youth Radio, Anaya shares his story. He begins by saying that he feels like he’s getting a “divorce from a system that [he’s] been in a relationship with almost [his] entire life.”
“Ultimately, I’m relieved to get away from a system that failed me on its biggest promise that one day it would find me a family that loved me,” he said.
In the podcast, you can hear Anaya at his last court hearing. The judge mispronounces his name — after being in the system for 20 years — and it reminds him that to the state, he is just a number. It makes him feel “powerless and anonymous.”
The judge asks Anaya if he has any advice to give the state as he is one of the more “successful” stories of the foster care system. This is what he reads:
“To whom it may concern. This is the year that I divorce you, your grey hands can no longer hurt me, your grey hands can never overpower me, your grey hands can never tell me that you love me because it’s too late. Your grey hands just taught me how to survive in a world. We never learned how to love ourselves unconditionally. I’ve been with multiple foster families, I’ve been with multiple shelters. How does a person like me not end up with a family. At 21 you happily kick us off to the curb and say good luck I wish you well, I wish you the best but don’t come back because we can’t take you in. I’ve seen too many of my people give up on the educational system. I hope that you hear my words. And I hope that you listen to my signal of distress. I thank you for giving me closure. Thank you.”
Anaya discovers that the reason that kids don’t find forever homes is that many of the social workers and lawyers are given too big of caseloads and not enough pay.
This young man is determined to finish college and doesn’t want to be a statistic. Anaya promises that he will leave his anger behind in the court room and will move forward positively in life.
His story is a good reminder that there’s a large need for foster-adoption parents and we hope that the system can change to stop failing kids like they did Anaya.
Listen to Anaya share his story below: