room sign

Warning: I’m about to be a little corny.

The thing is, I read 16-year-old Tina’s* self-made list of household rules that she would like to uphold, and my heart sort of melted a little. The quick back story is: Tina is a teen, living with an Amper-family that will be adopting her.  She moved into her new home about 6 months ago.

Tina’s mom told me that apparently Tina kept conveniently “forgetting” the household rules to avoid trouble with her parents. Naturally, they asked her to create a list so she wouldn’t “forget.”  This is what she came up with.

And here’s me: a 20-year veteran of child welfare, using silly phrases to describe myself after reading this list. It made me laugh, and it made me want to cry a little bit.

There are obvious rules on the list – rules that many teens would come up with – like #1 and #2: “No lying” and “No going into room!!” (Apparently Tina’s rules were to be applied to her parents as well.)

And there’s the very hilarious ending, with what appear to be both fake and real feline paw prints with the phrase, “Puss wuz here. He’s my witness.”  Or laugh even more at #4, “Be a kid. But not the badass kind.”

But there are also phrases in the list that are moving, like “Keep head held high.” And, “Don’t give up.” And, “Take help when needed.” And, “No abuse allowed.”

The part that got to me the most? It was when I read, “This is my home and a chance to make a change for once.”

 And if you really think about that, well… don’t we all deserve that? And don’t kids that have experienced trauma deserve that, times ten?

October 1st marks Ampersand Families’ 5th birthday.  This has been a pivotal year for us, continuing our direct service work with kids and families at an increased rate, bringing a total of 2.5 new staff on board, beginning the groundbreaking research design of a 20-year longitudinal study on the outcomes of teen adoption, implementing our visionary strategic plan, providing much-needed complex case consultations to counties in outstate Minnesota, and enhancing our post-adoption services through outreach to create respite and casual support families.

As Tina wisely notes, she (and all of our Amper-kiddos) deserve a home and a chance to make a change for once. Five years in, and we’re making that – and so much more – happen.  If you’d like to make a donation to help celebrate Ampersand’s birthday, we welcome your gift.

Five years open, doing great work – no small feat. Happy birthday, Ampersand Families!


Here’s to hope,

Jen Braun, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Officer

*Not her real name. But it’s a true story.  Could we make this sort of thing up?

Staff Reflections

About Me Sydnee is the Minnesota Heart Gallery Coordinator and a professional photographer by trade, coming to Ampersand with a love for photography, story-telling and youth. Sydnee holds dual degrees in both photography and English, which includes a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in St. Paul and an associate’s degree from Minneapolis Community & Technical College. Her attention to detail, dedication to forming relationships and networking, passion for youth and excitement for new ideas makes her a great addition to the team at Ampersand Families.

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