An Open Letter to My Foster Child


Dear A,

Someday, when you’re old and grown, I hope that I am still in your life. I want to sit down with you over coffee and hear how you’re doing, about the college classes you’re taking, about whether or not you finally like math. I’ll look at the suit and tie you’re wearing, perhaps, and I’ll remind you of all the grass stains I oxy-cleaned from your jeans on a daily basis.

But more than anything, I will need to explain how much you changed me. Right now, you’re not ready, but you should know. Someday.

The other day, when we drove by the school where I work, we saw a few families pushing their shopping carts full of their earthly possessions. They were on their way to the homeless shelter across the street.

I asked if you knew where they were going.

You looked out the window. You said you used to sleep there when there was no where else to go.

I am used to you telling me these things, but I felt a familiar stabbing pain in my heart, nonetheless.

You see, since I work across the street, I know for a fact that we were probably there at the same time.

And I grimace just to think.

How many times did I pass you by?

How many times did I see you out of the corner of my eye, hurting and alone?

How many times did I rush off, worried about my next errand?

Could I have stopped? Could I have made sure you and your brother had enough to eat?

Or were my eyes calloused and clouded?

You don’t know this, but Jesse and I almost bought a house down this same street a few years back. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was concerned about the house’s proximity to the very same homeless shelter. I was worried that someone might break into our house and steal our stuff.

Little did I know that just a year later, we would invite you to with open hearts to “break into” our lives on a daily basis.

Because of you, I notice these people now. Just yesterday, I saw a woman with a stroller full of her clothes, holding a baby and waiting for the shelter doors to open. I didn’t just notice someone sketchy on the side of the road, I saw her. She took my breath away, in fact.

Because of you, I saw a hero, doing everything within her power to reach out for help. Instead of seeing another reason to lock my car door, I saw a person. You gave me that gift.

The most ironic part about the shelter you used to stay in is that, back when it was a church, due to it’s location, my high school used to rent their classrooms. My classmates and I used to take classes there, in fact. I remember cutting out pictures for the school yearbook in the very room you used to sleep in. I used to sit at a desk in that room and dream about one day saving the world.

I thank God that instead of allowing me the save the world, he allowed me to spend just a few months with you.

Because, although you don’t know it yet, calloused eyes take a long time to heal. Just as security and unconditional love feel foreign to you at this time, the absence of them is alien to me and so many others. It’s easy to fear what the unknown brings, but it’s even harder to welcome it.

I hope that you never forget where you’ve come from, because you have already learned that one doesn’t need to be afraid. You show me this with the way you smile and embrace the unknown with such joy. You’ve had so little in life that your arms are wide open, unencumbered.

Someday, I hope to get the chance to thank you for breaking into our lives and hearts. Thank you for embracing this broken and beautiful world with us, one day at a time.

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  • Elise

    I simultaneously long for you to post about your foster experience and dread it. Your words are lovely, powerful and provocative. They also move me to tears. This letter in particular is stunning – literally, like a blow to the gut. Thank you for sharing glimpses into this part of your life. Those boys are loved and uplifted from afar.

    • themrscone

      Wow, Elise, what a huge compliment. Thank you for praying for the boys 🙂

  • Seana Turner

    Your posts always get me thinking… about how I could/should do more to help these people in need. This is so accurate, about the way we think. I’m humbled. AND thankful, that you are in this child’s life!

    • themrscone

      Seana, I just pray for forgiveness for my prior attitude. I am so grateful that God is using these boys to change my heart.

  • A Life From Scratch

    This, and your heart, is beautiful.

    • themrscone

      Thank you so much, friend.

  • Emily

    Loooove this. As a fellow foster momma, I totally relate to every word. Fostering is such a heartwrenching work, but is soooo more than worth it!

    • themrscone

      Thank you, Emily, for reading. It is so heart wrenching, but so worth it!

  • Nicole Nenninger

    Beautiful…Besides being well written, it touches my heart. I’ve often thought of being a foster parent, but I always come up with a reason for why not to (my schedule is full, I’m divorced and only see my kids half the time so it wouldn’t feel fair…). As a mom, my heart has been expanded by the love I feel for my own kids–foster kids really need this too–especially them. Do they stay a long time with you? Do you have contact with them after they leave? I think this would be hard–letting go when they are placed somewhere else. I would think it would be important if you were able to continue the relationship with them. Really remarkable article–it’s one of those that will stay with me for weeks. All it takes is just one person who believes in you…your kids are really blessed to have a mom like you. Thank you for making the world a better place.

    • Kelly Cone

      I hope we will have contact with them after they go back to family! It’s really up to the parent who gets them back. Sometimes, they are so “done” with that chapter in their lives and don’t want any reminders of it. We are working on slowly letting go and letting their bio parent take the reins (harder than I thought it’d be!)

  • Patty Romack

    Simply beautiful and heart-felt. What a beautiful gift you are giving the children you foster. They will never forget the way you opened your heart and life to them, and you will have a forever impact on them. The world needs more people like you….

    • Kelly Cone

      I hope that they never forget! Sometimes I wonder if we’re the only ones who are going to remember 🙂

  • MamaRabia

    Thank you for loving foster kids!

    • Kelly Cone

      Thank you for reading!

  • Craftybegonia M.

    Hi Kelly, visiting you via The SITS Girls. Very touching, very moving letter. I especially feel a bond with you because I crochet for Warming Families, a charity that provides warm items during cold months to women who have victims of domestic violence and their children. I also crochet toys (which I design) for Relief Nursery, a Christian charity that takes in abused children. So your letter deeply touched my heart. I wish you the best with your blog and also with your efforts to give love and dignity to children society treats like throwaways.

    • Kelly Cone

      Wow, that’s so neat! Basic needs like those are so important.

  • Meeghan

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    • Kelly Cone

      Thanks for reading!

  • Madaline

    This is beautiful. My best friend and her husband just finished the adoption process after fostering… going to pass this to her.

    • Kelly Cone

      Yes, please, Madaline, do pass it along! Wow, all the way to the adoption process! I greatly admire them.

  • Tami

    What a beautiful and heartfelt letter. I think you have saved the world, in your own way…you made a difference in one child’s life. You were his world for those months that you protected him, fed him, clothed him and loved him.

    • Kelly Cone

      Thank you, Tami, for commenting. It’s hard because we have to fight the urge to save the world, since there are so many that need help. But we aren’t called to save the world, we’re called to love the people in front of us 🙂

  • Brittany Walker

    We start our foster care classes this month and this letter has made me know that I won’t regret it!

  • Cassie Lee

    So happy I found this. The world needs more people with your heart!