Find and support adoptive families for kids age 10 and older who are currently living in the foster care system.
“What I really wish for most is a family because I need one. I’m not giving up! Don’t you give up on me, either.” -Maria at age 17, when she was waiting to be adopted. She was adopted four days before her 18th birthday.
This quote explains perfectly why Ampersand Families exists. There is nothing that can more poignantly stir a sense of how important it is to have a place and people to which you belong than to step momentarily into the shoes of a 17-year-old about to face the world with no family, no unconditionally committed adults, no financial supports, and a childhood filled with rejection and hurt. This is the path of 30,000 teenagers nationally, who leave foster care every year, unsure of where to call home or whom to count on. What happens next for many of them is tragic.
Young people are better off in permanent families than in foster care. Kids who are over 9 are far less likely than younger children to be adopted. Most of them turn 18 without ever joining a family. Foster care ends, and they’re on their own. They face challenges many of them will find insurmountable. They’re much more likely to wind up homeless, pregnant, incarcerated, or victims of crimes. They’re much less likely to finish high school.
Ampersand Families was founded to address the needs of these young people. Our mission is to recruit and support permanent families for older youth, and to champion practices in adoption and permanency that restore belonging, dignity and hope.
Belonging to a family is a basic human right, and Ampersand’s work of finding and supporting permanent families for teens helps balance the scales of social justice. Healthy communities rely on engaged citizens, and Ampersand Families is critical in bringing a whole group of disenfranchised young people back into the fold of family and community life.
Put simply, we help teenagers in foster care find permanent families, we support those families like none other, and we persuade others in child welfare that it is both possible and crucial to do so.