Ampersand Families is proud to provide services in the state of Minnesota, where in 1995 our Supreme Court ruled that the state’s constitution protects not only a woman’s* right to have an abortion, but also protects their right to decide to have an abortion (Doe vs. Gomez). We stand firmly with Governor Walz and his Executive Order declaring that Minnesota will remain an island in the Midwest that “preserves the rights of people seeking an abortion”.
Ampersand Families unequivocally repudiates the Supreme Court’s decision overturning 50 years of precedent, and for the first time in the nation’s history annihilating a right that has been secured and exercised by our citizens for half a century. We believe the repercussions of this attack on personal privacy and the right of people to maintain sovereignty over their own bodies will reverberate and result in future decisions demoting huge swaths of our population, including a significant number of the people we serve and the professionals in our field, to a sub-class of citizens who are denied the basic right to take a partner and to access healthcare.
Ampersand Families stands in solidarity with national organizations that intersect with our field that have spoken since this decision, including Voice for Adoption, National Association of Social Workers, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Social Current, Center for the Study of Social Policy, American Bar Association, National Center for Youth Law, NAACP, UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza) and Human Rights Campaign.
As a leader in providing permanency and adoption services, Ampersand Families vigorously opposes emergent efforts to position adoption and foster care as a positive ‘solution’ to the potential upsurge of infants being born to parents who would have otherwise exercised their right to an abortion. We reject the idea that any person should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term for the purpose of providing a child to someone awaiting adoption. Adoption, whether it is of an infant immediately after birth, a teenager out of the foster care system or a three-year-old from another country is a deeply complex mixture of grief, loss, joy, trauma, and learning. The birth/first parent/s, adoptive parent/s and adopted persons are forever changed. They often spend a lifetime trying to make meaning of the experience, often with deep and lasting pain. Adoption is not a panacea for any social challenge.
Ampersand Families adoption work is exclusive to the population of youth served by the child welfare system. Over the years, we have become crystal clear that for most youth in the child welfare system the most essential work we can do is to restore them to their birth/first families. The whole system is moving away from placing children with strangers and towards restoring them to their families. Positioning foster care and adoption as the answer for the increase in children born in the wake of this ruling is not well thought out and will cause damage on top of the excruciating origin story these children will now have to navigate.
Further, as related to the idea that foster care and adoption are a viable ‘solution’: the truth is that most people are simply not equipped to effectively foster or adopt from foster care. Children and youth of color and those who identify as LGBTQ+ are deeply over-represented in foster care. The vast majority have experienced trauma, including the profound and damaging trauma of being separated from their birth/first parents. Foster and adoptive parents must have access to resources to keep children connected to relatives, kin, community, culture, and help them embrace and grow into their full and complex identities. General calls to the community to ‘step up and foster or adopt’ are naïve and harmful to children.
Lastly, and most importantly, Ampersand Families understands that the issue of abortion must be viewed in the larger context of Reproductive Justice. The group SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities”. We embrace their definition and understand that Reproductive Justice can only be achieved when all people have equitable access to all the things that make it possible to rear children– living wage jobs, affordable housing, accessible childcare, access to healthy foods, clean water, land free of toxic chemicals. Only then, will people in our country have actual ‘choice’ regarding whether and how to raise children.
The realm of Reproductive Justice that Ampersand Families has the most potential impact in is in securing a person’s right to ‘parent the children they have’. Our country has a long history of denying this right to families, especially those who are Black, brown, and Native. From the stealing and selling of babies born in slavery, to culture-crushing Indian boarding schools, to disproportionate removal of Black, brown, and Native children by child protection, to separation of children from families seeking asylum at our southern border. At Ampersand Families, we remain vigilant in understanding this legacy when our country is again moving in the direction of forced birth, coercive removal and naivete regarding what children need to grow up healthy and connected.
*The 1995 ruling specifically refers to ‘”women”, rather than persons who are pregnant.
Statements From National Organizations that Intersect with Child Welfare
- Joint statement from NASW, American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Bar Association
- American Medical Association
- Center for Study of Social Policy
- Futures Without Violence
- Human Rights Campaign
- Johns Hopkins Health
- National Center for Youth Law
- Social Current (merger of Council on Accreditation and the Alliance for Strong Families)
- UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza)