Jessie’s Journey to Her Forever Family
Together, we are making life-changing differences in the lives of the children and families we serve every day.


Jessie* first entered foster care when she was very young and although she was adopted, she always wrestled with feelings of abandonment from her biological family. When she was 13 years old, Jessie entered foster care for the second time, because her adoptive mother was no longer willing to take care of her. For the next 2 years, she was shuffled from group home to group home, feeling abandoned, lonely, and further traumatized. She suffered from anxiety, had trouble making friends, and sometimes she hurt herself.

When Jessie turned 15, she was referred to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families’ Destination Family (DF) program.

DF specializes in working one-to-one with youth who face multiple barriers to permanency. Oftentimes, the youth who most benefit from DF services are youth who are medically fragile, ethnically and/or racially diverse, teenagers, or part of a sibling set that should not be separated. And many of them, like Jessie, need individual, often intensive attention. They need help understanding the trauma they’ve been through and need help healing. This not only improves their mental health and overall quality of life, but it also prepares them to become part of a permanent family.

Jessie resisted the idea of adoption at first, because her previous experience with family had left her feeling abandoned and unloved. But with the nurturing support of our Destination Family team and access to the mental health resources she needed, Jessie began to get stronger and able to decide what she wanted for her life. In the meantime, the Destination Family team searched for families who might be a good match for Jessie, who would be willing and able to meet Jessie’s needs and provide her with the love, safety, and unconditional commitment she so needed and deserved. The team found such a family in Linda and Paul Williams*.

The Williams came to Stanford Sierra Youth & Families wanting to build their family. They both had experienced trauma as children and understood how important family is to a young person. They were determined to provide a child with the love and security they had missed out on themselves.

Jessie now lives with the Williams full-time. In her own words, she feels supported, loved, and accepted. She continues to open up to Linda and Paul, and is learning to trust them. Recently, she let them know that she identifies as LGBTQ+, and they support and love her unconditionally. This love and acceptance has had a remarkable effect on her spirits. Jessie is now thriving at school, making new friends, and looking forward to her future. Our Destination Family team will continue to support Jessie, Linda, and Paul as they near finalization of the adoption, and as long as they need our help.


*Names and other details changed to protect privacy.