The Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) was founded in 1957 to find “a permanent place to call home” for children and teens in foster care in Massachusetts, including sibling groups and children who are traditionally harder to place. MARE was one of the first five adoption exchanges in the United States, and the only one established under private auspices with trustees from both the private and public sectors of adoption.
MARE was then, and is now, the bridge between the state’s Department of Children & Families (DCF, formerly DSS), private adoption agencies, and adults interested in adoption. We recruit, educate, support and advocate for families throughout the adoption process while targeting recruitment efforts to attract potential parents for specific waiting children. We are the Commonwealth’s central clearinghouse for adoption information and referral, and work to identify potential matches between children and families.
Our goal is to find a safe, nurturing permanent family for every child in Massachusetts foster care who cannot be reunited with his/her birth family. MARE has helped more than 5,350 children join nurturing, stable homes through its history of innovative programming.
In the 1960s, MARE developed a pictorial newsletter, the first of its kind in the nation, to profile the children waiting for adoption. This newsletter eventually became the MARE Photolisting® manual, with hundreds of profiles and pictures of waiting children, available for viewing in over 300 libraries and social service agencies statewide. The service has been copied throughout the United States and Canada and became the primary means by which prospective parents learned about hundreds of waiting children.
In 1976, MARE began its long-standing collaboration with the Boston Globe in publishing “Sunday’s Child®.” This transformed the public’s perception of adoption and the children who need permanent homes.
In the late 1970s into the early 1980s, MARE collaborated with other agencies to develop the Adoption Party, a fun activity-filled event designed to give waiting children a chance to interact with prospective parents in a low-key atmosphere.
The success of the Sunday’s Child® features in educating the public and recruiting families for specific children led to the creation of the TV feature “Wednesday’s Child” in 1981. News Anchor Jack Williams of WBZ-TV-4 has interviewed and showcased more than 900 children on the weekly Wednesday’s Child feature since 1981; more than 500 of those children have been adopted.
A national association known as “Adoption Exchange Association” began in 1983 to support state Exchanges and advocate nationally for support for adoption from foster care. MARE was one of the Exchanges that helped create this organization, and MARE’s former Executive Director served as the AEA’s president for its first three years.
In 1983, MARE established the Permanency Planning Committee for Children of Color, a 5-year collaboration among public and private agency staff in conjunction with community leaders to research and address the placement needs of children of color.
In 1984, MARE opened a western Massachusetts office, housed in the Springfield DCF office, to better serve the waiting children and prospective adoptive parents furthest from Boston.
In 1989, MARE was awarded federal funding for the “One Church, One Child” program, recruiting homes for children of color. This program received high marks from the federal government.
In 1992, MARE started the Children’s Adoption and Foster Care Rights Coalition. This coalition successfully lobbied for passage of House Bill 303, which reduced the length of time children wait to be freed for adoption.
In the 1990’s a grant from the federal government helped MARE institute outreach to the Hispanic community. MARE’s Photolisting® pages for children of Latino heritage now appear in both English and Spanish while child-specific recruitment features, similar to Sunday’s Child® in the Boston Globe, appear in five Spanish-language newspapers across the state.
In 1996, MARE developed a Website dedicated to providing adoption information to Internet users and featuring legally free children.
In the late 90’s, MARE formed a partnership with Jordan’s Furniture to sponsor adoption parties, including one which drew 1500 people, the highest attendance ever at one event. This partnership is still going strong with an advisory board that meets regularly to plan ongoing events. Jordan’s Furniture received the Philanthropic Innovator Award from the Boston Business Journal in 2007 in recognition of its creative partnership with MARE.
In 2005, MARE began its annual Heart Gallery, a photographic exhibit of portraits of waiting children. Permanent Heart Gallery exhibits are hosted at the four Jordan’s Furniture stores, while a traveling exhibit brings the portraits and information about adoption from foster care to high traffic venues, including shopping malls, train stations, hospitals, and museums around the state.
Also in 2005, MARE partnered with the Spanish language television station Univision to create a Wednesday’s Child type of feature for waiting children of Latino heritage. Airing monthly, “En Busca de un Hogar” (In Search of a Home) is hosted by Univision news anchor Sara Suarez.
In 2006, MARE received its first grant from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to develop their Wendy’s Wonderful Kids focused recruitment program in Western MA. MARE received funding for its second Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program in Boston in 2007.
In 2007-2008, MARE staff responded to an increasing number of inquiries, now over 15,000 annually. MARE coordinated publicity for the state's National Adoption Month, generating news stories in print publications with combined circulation of 1,700,000.
In 2008, MARE began a Family Support Services Program, designed to provide a focused level of support and follow-through for the thousands of families who make that initial call to learn about adoption from foster care. Our challenge is to keep those families progressing through the lengthy training process so that more families who call will eventually adopt a waiting child.
In 2009, MARE began a video program, Video Snapshots, creating videos/slide shows to better showcase the personalities of waiting children. These videos are posted to the MARE website as part of the Online Photolisting and used in matching meetings as a private introduction for prospective parents.
Since 1957, MARE has been the connecting tissue between the public and private sectors of adoption, building on the strengths of each to help find homes for waiting children. Our work, and those who work with us in this process, have received numerous national awards.
MARE has helped bring more than 5,350 children from the uncertainty of foster care to the security of loving, stable adoptive homes through decades of continued innovation and ongoing programs. But more children need our services every week, and MARE will continue to explore new ways to find each waiting child “a permanent place to call HOME.”