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Navigating the Matching Process

Navigating the Matching Process

Matching is the heart of the adoption process.

The matching process is when you will work together with your social worker and MARE’s matching tools to find the child, teen, or sibling group you would be the best fit to parent.

As always, this process is centered on the children in foster care: it is less about finding a child for your family, and more about matching a child to your particular strengths, personality, and circumstances as a family.

You might learn about or meet the child or teen who will join your family in several different ways. Let’s look at a few ways you can engage in the matching process:


Matching Options

MARE Child Profiles

MARE Child Profiles where you can view basic information about children and teens in need of adoptive homes. These can be viewed on our website and usually include simple introductions, photos, and sometimes videos capturing each child’s unique personality and strengths. From here you can make inquiries to learn more about a particular child or sibling group.

MARE Adoption Meet and Greets

We also host regular in-person and virtual events called Adoption Meet and Greets. At these events, you can have the chance to meet and interact with children, teens, and their social workers.

We believe that real human connections are at the heart of the matching process. That's why events where you can talk to and interact with both youth and social workers are vital. It is the child's social worker who has the most information about their needs and history. They are also the ones who evaluate families to be sure they are an appropriate match for any child on their caseload. As a result, it is very beneficial for you to network with social workers at events.

MARE Online Matching

Lastly, you can sign up for our Online Matching program which will allow staff and social workers to find potential matches for your family based on our database. This service allows us to work behind the scenes to find children and teens who might be matches for your family.


Social Worker Matching

Lastly, your social worker might work within their network to find an appropriate match for you. In this case, they will find a match for your family by speaking with the adoption workers in their office or region of the state.


How Long Does It Take to be Matched?

Matching is an organic process, and how long it takes can vary greatly from family to family. On average, you can expect it to take several months to be matched.

The length of the matching process will be influenced by the range of age, gender, needs, and number of kids that your family is open to. If you are open to a very wide range, you are more likely to be matched quickly. For instance, if your family is open to a child 8-16 years old of any race or gender, matching could proceed relatively quickly.

Conversely, if your family is only open to a very specific range then matching could take much much longer. For instance, if your family looking specifically for "a Hispanic girl between 7-9 with mild needs who is legally freed" the range is so specific that matching could take years.


Exploring a Potential Match

Once you, your social worker, and a child’s social worker think that there may be a potential match, you are then invited to a disclosure meeting, where you will learn everything DCF knows about the child.

This includes their medical history, reports from school, trauma history, current needs and challenges, family history, etc. You also have the option to call “collaterals,” such as the child’s therapist, teacher, etc. to learn more about them. 

All this information is so that you can make an informed decision about whether you would be a good fit to parent this child or teen.

How Do You Know?

When it comes down to it, matching isn't a science. It is an organic process based on your family and the child. After all the information, you have to judge for yourself what makes sense for your family.

Some people have a “feeling” like this is right. They would say, they "just know" this child is supposed to be part of their family.

Some look at it more logically or strategically. They might emphasize practical considerations or simply "choosing" to adopt this specific child from a broader sense of responsibility.

Many people fall somewhere in the middle. They may not look at a photo and think “this is my son/daughter”, but there may be things that resonate with them from the profile or from personal interactions.


Next Steps

Navigating the matching process looks different for every family. By using the tools available, keeping the conversation going with your social worker, and developing a strong sense of what would work for your family you can find the best match.

Still trying to figure out how to start the process? Our in-depth guide on How to Adopt From Foster Care can help you get started!