SUCCESS STORIES

Over the years, MARE has found permanent, loving families for thousands of children waiting in foster care. Read about a few of these phenomenal families who, in the course of making a difference in a child’s life, also had their own life-changing experiences.

If you have adopted with MARE’s help and have a success story to share, we want to hear from you. Please email your story and picture to Diane Tomaz, Director of Family Support Services, at dianet@MAREinc.org.

The Evans Family

My husband Derrick and I talked about adoption in December 2008 before we left on our drive to Georgia for our holiday road trip. We went on the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) website and inquired via e-mail and couldn’t wait for a response. During the drive we talked and talked about it. When we got to Georgia we talked to family members as we both have family there and Derrick’s mom is a Social Worker and his aunt & uncle are foster parents. On the drive back we were cruising through Maryland when the decision was made. The Evans family wanted to adopt a child. When we got back we made all the necessary contacts, filled out all the paperwork, went to class and became certified pre-adoptive parents. Once our homestudy was complete, we started going to adoption parties.

At the first one, a social worker was seeking us out, as he had heard we wanted to foster to adopt an older child of color, and he found us: “Oh, there you are, you are the Evans family come with me, I have someone you HAVE to meet”, he exclaimed. He took us to 10 year old Malcom, a very quiet boy with gorgeous hazel eyes. We tried having a conversation with Malcom but he wasn’t budging. He was one of our choices that day. Two weeks later we went to Jordan’s Furniture Adoption Option party and Malcom was there. When he saw us, he remembered us and we FINALLY spoke. We played a game of skee ball and had some ice cream and we were convinced that this was our child . Malcom moved in with us in April 2010 after three months of having weekly visits and he adopted us on National Adoption Day.

We were the featured family for the ceremony in Boston and we were so excited as we got to tell our story to the Governor, all the adoptive families and their children, and everyone from the Department of Children and Families present. We love being parents so much we fostered and adopted Malcom’s maternal half-brother Marcus a year later!

 
The Scott-Sandagato Family

Tom and Joe met in the early 1990’s. They knew from the beginning that they wanted to have children. They also knew that they wanted to take a few years to travel, work on their careers and to enjoy one another’s time before they started a family. Before they knew it, the time came when they knew it was right to begin their journey into parenthood.

Casual conversations soon led to more formal discussions about whether they would pursue surrogacy or adoption. Would it be foreign adoption or domestic? Ultimately they decided upon domestic adoption for the reasons of supporting children in their own community and for the benefit of being able to both be named parents in a same-sex adoption. At that time, Massachusetts was a leader in allowing same-sex couples to legally adopt children. With that they attended MAPP class and began upon the journey of waiting to meet their forever children. It was at that point of the process that they discovered MARE and began to attend matching events, meeting with social workers from throughout the state and narrowing down their search criteria. They remember starting the search, like so many, looking for a “little girl age 4-6 years old”. After many months of searching, calls and missed connections they began to get despondent. Little did they know that they would meet a sibling group of two boys, ages 4 and 8, at a MARE event held at the Worcester Ecotarium.

Malcome and Anthony were an active sibling group that had been separated in foster care and who were being reunited for adoptive placement. The decision was immediate and heartfelt and both Joe and Tom remember being so excited to finally meet their forever children. That feeling carried forward as they sought new additions to grow their family. Next to be introduced to the family was Victor, followed a few years later by Ashley (a bio-sibling to Malcome and Anthony). As the family aged, Joe and Tom along with the kids, made the decision to expand the family again. They attended several matching events, spoke with countless social workers throughout the state and then met the perfect match; this time adding mid-teen Devin to the clan. It was a year or so later, with the older boys attending college, that they made the decision to grow the family again. Joe attended a matching event as a support parent and Tom tagged along. It just so happened that there were a couple of little guys at that event that they connected with immediately. A few months later, Jamie and Tyler joined the brood.

Almost two decades (and seven children) later, the couple looks back fondly at the trials and tribulations of parenting such a large family. All of the kids had some level of special need ranging from trauma and neglect to educational challenges to Autism and mental health needs. Joe (President of the Department of Children and Families Worcester West Area Advisory Board and a MAPP trainer for the Department of Children and Families) often speaks to community groups and prospective parents and tells them, “[that] adopting children from the system means that you must acknowledge the role that their past plays in their life”, but that he and Tom, “strongly believe that nurture can provide a wonderful counterbalance to nature and past issues.”

The success of their children is measured in their ability to engage with the world, their passion for family and relentless desire to give back. Often, the older children will accompany Joe on speaking engagements to tell their stories and help to define the importance of being part of a family. It is in these moments, and many others that they realize the power of healing and the importance of healthy family connections for children.

 
The French Family

The French Family in 1974
In 1967, Joan and Chuck French wanted a family. Joan, then a 33 year old volunteer with the Red Cross who had a passion for cooking, and Chuck, 35, who traveled a great deal for business, decided to turn to adoption through the state as their starting point. They adopted Mark and he arrived at their home 10 days after being born. Eight years later, they adopted another child, a six month old girl. Joan French would go on to act as the President of the Board of the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange from 1972-1979. In her role, she had the opportunity to sit down with news anchor Jack Williams and discuss recruitment strategies over lunch, giving birth to the idea of Wednesday’s Child.

Growing up in Lexington, Mark was a happy-go-lucky kid. When he wasn’t playing in the backyard pretending to cut the grass with his toy lawnmower, he was playing with his dog or practicing swimming; in the winter he loved playing in the snow. When his dad traveled for business, he looked forward to receiving postcards where he learned of other cultures and different countries.

“I always had everything I could need. There were so many people outside my family that made sure I grew up knowing all the ‘right things’ in life”, said Mark, who added “one thing I always knew was that I was adopted.”

Mark never thought of looking for his biological parents until he became sick in college; his doctor asked him to provide a family history to find a solution, and to do so, Mark contacted the Probate Court and received his entire adoption file, where he found out his entire family history, including the names of his biological parents. Two years later, he contacted and met his biological mother. He has never contacted his biological father. Mark, now 48 and a working professional, recognizes how important it is for parents to take the time to talk to their children about being adopted, and reflects on his past in a positive way: “After meeting my biological mother, I saw what my life would have been like if I had not been adopted by two of the most loving, caring and kind people on the face of the earth. My parents never hid from me the fact that I was adopted. They always told me that my mother loved me enough to let me go, and be raised by people who would love me and make sure I always had everything she could not do for me, and she was right!”


Chuck and Mark in 2016
Over time, Mark has also been able to work as a resource for prospective adoptive families, and remembers how, while living in North Carolina, his supervisor, who also wanted a family, approached him with questions about adoption.

Joan and Chuck French’s legacy continues on with Mark, as he states: “Adoption is one of the biggest decisions any prospective parent can make for a child. Adopted children are no different than children that are not adopted. They need love, attention, stability and honesty.” And what does Mark see in his future? “I want to find a wife and adopt at least two kids! ”

Julio

Sarah

Patrick

Nicki

MARE - Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, Inc. - 45 Franklin Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301
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