Foster-Adoptive Mom Shares the Joy and the Journey of Becoming a Parent

Yelena, former Pacific Clinics resource parent, said she has always dreamed of adopting a child.

At 19, she met her future husband, John, who shared her dream.

As a child, John was abandoned by both his biological and adoptive parents and wanted to help those in similar situations.

“It wasn’t the same back then,” says Yelena. “After he graduated from his group home, that was it. They were like, ‘have a good life.’”

Yelena’s and John’s road to and through fostering and adopting has been peppered with loss and challenges, but mostly joy.

It began when they fostered their first child, a newborn infant addicted to opioids. After five months of tough nights and around-the-clock care, the child was reunited with his biological mother.

“It was one of the hardest times for us. You feel like this is your baby. You’re up with him, take care of him, and [the biological mom] sees him one to three hours a week. That was hard to come to terms with.”

Yelena found strength in her faith and the belief that her higher power had a plan.

“That was what gave us hope. That God will bring someone else who is for us.”

Exactly a year later, William, the newest addition to their family and recently adopted son, was born. He, too, was born addicted to drugs and had health issues, including a Down Syndrome diagnosis. She confesses, before William, she did not think she could raise a child with developmental issues. “I — and almost everyone else — said or thought it would be too hard.”

But the reality was wildly different.

“When we went to visit him in the hospital, we were like, ‘this is our baby.’”

The experience of being parents to William (who is now 2 years old) opened John and Yelena’s eyes – and their world.

“Our lives have changed. And it changed everyone in our family, too – even coworkers. He’s the cutest, sweetest, most adorable baby in the whole wide world. He brings so much joy to this world.”

William’s 14-year-old brother Joshua, who is also adopted, adores him, as do his cousins and neighbors.

“People just love him. He is the best thing that could have ever happened to us.”

You don’t have to have a “special heart” to foster or adopt, she says.

“If you saw a baby, helpless on the street, do you need a special heart to pick him up? No, you just have to be a decent human being.”

Yelena and Joseph’s family was named Family of the Year in 2022 by Standford Sierra Youth and Families for going above and beyond in their dedication as adoptive parents to their family and community.

We are actively recruiting new resource families who can provide a stable, supportive environment for youth in the foster care system so they can succeed in school, at home and in their community. Learn more.