No Time Like Now: Charlotte’s Adoption Story
Her life began by being placed into foster care for her own safety.

In 2016, Jason and Emily McDonald* came to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (SSYAF) because they were interested in growing their family through adoption. They had three children of their own (ages 6, 5, and 3) and one on the way, but they felt strongly about expanding their family to include a child who had been less fortunate. SSYAF helped the McDonalds through the approval process and provided training and education to prepare them for their adoption journey.



A Story of Hope
She saw no future for herself. When she tried to imagine one, she saw nothing.

Like many of the young people we work with, Iris* endured trauma and sexual abuse at a young age. For years these traumas were left unaddressed and untreated. Consequently Iris experienced depression and contemplated suicide as she grew up. Twice these struggles required hospitalization. On the second occasion, Iris was connected with a social worker at Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (SSYF).


It Takes One Adult to Spark Inspiration
You can come into your full potential no matter who you are, regardless of how you identify.

As a dedicated trainer supporting the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in systems of care, I have the honor and privilege of teaching my peers about all the ways they can support children and teens from this community. LGBTQ+ children are often forgotten in the system, overrepresented, and left without permanent families to call their own. Many of us have heard the statistics, some of us have experienced them firsthand. So why should you join us in changing the life of a child?


Meet Our New Intern, Scott Yuki
Like many others, I wanted to do something with an immediate impact.

Hello! My name is Scott Yuki, a second-year student at UC Berkeley studying Business Administration and Public Health. At Berkeley, I am a member of the Cal Dragon Boat team, the Associate Student body, and the Nikkei Student Union. Unfortunately… or fortunately, my spring semester was cut short. Looking at the bright side of our less fortunate situations, I was able to pass/fail my calculus course and save my GPA! But to acknowledge the realities of 2020, this has been and will continue to be an interesting time for all of us.


A World of Wonder
Matching youth in foster care with consistent, caring adults since 2003.

One common question our agency receives is about the options available for people who may not be ready to become Resource (Foster) Parents, but who want to support youth in foster care. We recognize that not everyone who can adopt or become a Resource Parent is ready. At Stanford Sierra Youth & Families, we often have Resource Families reveal that they thought about becoming a Resource Family for multiple years before finally deciding to start the process.


A Cap and Gown, Diploma, and Backyard Graduation
Every child deserves the unconditional love, commitment, and support of a family.

At 14 years old, Sean was emotionally abused by his birth mother. After being removed from the abusive environment, Sean was placed in a group home, where he lived for several years. Sean experienced what many young men in foster care experience – a challenge finding a family willing to take in a teenage boy with trauma. He struggled in school, spent time in the juvenile justice system, and experienced mental health issues. 



Promoting Connections During Times of Crisis
The challenges we face during this time will provide us with invaluable tools and resources for years to come.

Going about normal routines and balancing new challenges can be difficult during these uncertain times. Many organizations have been forced to restructure, furlough, or even stop providing crucial services to the community. At Stanford Sierra Youth & Families (SSYF), we have been delivering and will continue to deliver essential services to youth and families within our programs, all while focusing on the safety and well-being of all within our communities. The challenges we face during this time will provide us with invaluable tools and resources for years to come.


Stronger Together: Stanford Youth Solutions and Sierra Forever Families Merger
October 9, 2019

Two women walking together

A commitment to permanency and the empowerment of youth and families.

It is with great excitement that Sierra Forever Families (SFF) and Stanford Youth Solutions (SYS) announce the merging of the two organizations, effective July 1, 2019. SFF and SYS have complementary missions and operations and have an extensive history of collaborating to provide services and supports to youth and families.


Adoption Myths
June 4, 2019

Father and child

Like most aspects of life related to family and children, adoption is an emotional topic. That might be why foster-care adoption is so ripe for myth-making. At Sierra Forever Families (SFF), would-be parents often approach us with ideas that couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s clear up four common ones:


A gloriously sunny spring day picnic
May 23, 2019

Family together outside

A gloriously sunny spring day, scented with the unmistakable fragrance of cotton candy, set the stage for nearly 200 parents and children to enjoy a day of fun and companionship at Sierra Forever Families’ Family Appreciation Picnic on May 4 at Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin.


California’s first-ever surgeon general prioritizes children’s health
April 30, 2019

Child holding stuffed toy

February/March of 2017, in a two-part series on how trauma affects children, this blog highlighted a 16-minute talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris that has been viewed on YouTube 1.8 million times.

Dr. Burke Harris, a pediatrician trained at the UC Davis School of Medicine, has been hailed as a leading voice in transforming our understanding of how children’s traumatic experiences can trigger serious physical and mental illness.


3 Empowering Reasons to Foster/Adopt as a Single Parent
April 16, 2019

Child smiling at parent

There’s a myth out there that to adopt or care for a foster child, your family needs to resemble something out of an ancient sitcom: one mom in an apron, one dad in a business suit. This is, indeed, a myth. At Sierra Forever Families, we strongly encourage single parents to explore foster care and adoption. In fact, nearly a quarter of adoptions are by single parents.


You Never Outgrow the Need for a Family
March 13, 2019

Smiling teenager

There’s a tongue-in-cheek poster that’s a classic fixture on the wall at some adoption agencies. It lists the advantages of giving a permanent home to a teenager. Number one is “No diapers!” Another benefit: “No toilet training.”

Clearly, these comments are meant to bring a smile to the face of prospective parents. But they also have a serious intent: to shine a light on the critical need for families to adopt older children and provide them with life-changing unconditional love, safety and support.


Navigating the Bureaucracy of Adoption and Foster Care
March 8, 2019

Woman and child smiling together

Anyone who has ever waited for their number to be called at the DMV knows that bureaucracy can be crazy-making. Paperwork, meetings, complex chains of command, endless acronyms (CPS? EPSDT?), communication breakdowns—all of it can make impatience flare. When a child’s future is at stake, it can be even more frustrating.

Welcome to foster care and adopting through the foster care system!