Sometimes people ask me to give an example of the second part of our mission, which is, “to recruit and support permanent families for older youth, and to champion practices in adoption and permanency that restore belonging, dignity and hope.”

Recently, a 15-year-old that I’m working with contacted me about something that was very upsetting to him. Here’s the story, and it’s a great example of how and why the concept of “dignity” is an important part of our mission.

He’s a kid that was recently placed into his pre-adoptive family. Now secure in the comfort of a committed family, he was looking up information on a former friend of his that he was curious about – a current kid who needs an adoptive family. And he noticed something on the official photo-listing of Minnesota’s “waiting kids”: Across the top of the web page was the term “case #” with a 4-digit code.

He wrote, “I’ve just found this and if you pay attention to the top right corner it labels [my friend] as a “case”. This finding of mine infuriates me because children are not simply numbers neither are we “cases”! …I find it to be completely ludicrous that I was also a “case” along with thousands of others I’m sure…”

I offered – with his and his parents’ permission – to go ahead and contact the agency that runs the official photo listing of kids in need of adoptive families. This teen thought that was a fantastic idea, and liked the idea of helping out other kids. So I did just that, and the agency was very responsive and fast, which was great.

Now, thanks to an Ampersand youth – and some advocacy on our part – the term “case number” has been removed from the web-listing of Minnesota kids in need of adoptive families.

Here’s to championing practices that restore belonging, dignity and hope!

Jen Braun, Co-Executive Officer

Ampersand Families

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About Me Michelle has worked with youth in out-of-home care since 1989, her child welfare career has included front-line staff positions in residential settings, a home-based intensive supervision worker, and youth development work in a therapeutic foster care agency. Prior to co-founding Ampersand Families in October 2008, Michelle directed The Homecoming Project, a federally-funded Adoption Initiatives program to increase adoptions of teenagers from Minnesota’s foster care system. Read More

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