The Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) was founded in 1957 to bridge the gap between children in state foster care in Massachusetts and families looking to private agencies for adoption. MARE was one of the first five adoption exchanges in the country and one of the first exchanges to be privately funded, with trustees from both the private and public sectors of adoption.
MARE was then, and is now, the bridge between the state agency (DCF), contracted adoption agencies and adults interested in adoption. MARE has a long history of creative and innovative programming that has expanded to include services related to the recruitment, matching and referral of adoptive parents seeking children, as well as a variety of training, support and advocacy activities.
1960's: 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 nearly 400 libraries and 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.
1970’s: 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 by featuring an individual waiting child each week. In the late 1970’s, MARE collaborated with other agencies to develop adoption parties, fun activity-filled events designed to give children a chance to interact with prospective parents in a low-key atmosphere. Over the years, the types of events have varied, and MARE currently hosts12-18 per year.
1980’s: In July 1981, MARE opened a branch office in Rhode Island with 2 staff people. In 1984, the office incorporated as an independent agency and became the Ocean State Adoption Resource Exchange (renamed Adoption Rhode Island). 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 interviewed and showcased over 1100 children on the weekly Wednesday’s Child feature until his retirement in 2015. Presently, children are interviewed by different hosts on a monthly basis. A national association known as the Adoption Exchange Association began in the 1980’s 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 instituted a Western Massachusetts satellite office, housed in the Springfield Department of Social Services office, to better serve the waiting children and prospective adoptive parents furthest from Boston.
1990’s: The 1990’s brought funding for the One Church, One Child program, recruiting homes for minority children. This program received high marks from the federal government. In the 1990s, a grant from the federal government helped MARE institute outreach to the Hispanic Community. MARE’S Photolisting pages for children of Latino heritage appeared in both English and Spanish while child-specific recruitment features, similar to Sunday’s Child in the Boston Globe, appear in five Spanish-language papers across the state. In 1996, MARE developed a website dedicated to providing adoption information to internet users and featuring children waiting for adoption. In 1998, MARE formed a partnership with Jordan’s Furniture to sponsor adoption parties. This partnership is still going strong with an advisory board that meets regularly to plan ongoing events.
2000’s: In the 2000's, MARE began its Heart Gallery, a photographic exhibit of portraits of waiting children. Permanent Digital 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. In 2003, Massachusetts began celebrating National Adoption Day on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Since then, MARE has played a major role in coordinating this event statewide, along with the Department of Children & Families and the Massachusetts Trial Court. 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 origin. Airing monthly, “En Busca de un Hogar” (In Search of a Home) was hosted by Univision news anchor Sara Suarez. In 2006, MARE was awarded a grant from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, to establish a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program in Western Massachusetts. This staff person works exclusively with a caseload of approximately 15 youth that have been waiting for an adoptive home the longest. The focus is on finding a permanent connection or family resource for a child, including exploring people from his or her past. In 2007, MARE was awarded a second grant from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, to establish a second Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program in the Greater Boston area.
In 2008, MARE began a Video Snapshots program, producing videos of waiting children and having them available on the MARE website. In July 2008, MARE instituted a Family Support Services Program and hired its first Family Support Services Director. In 2009, MARE launched the Friend of the Family Mentoring Program, pairing experienced adoptive families with those new to the process to help more potential adoptive parents proceed with finding and adopting the right child(ren) for them. In 2010, MARE launched the Walk for Adoption – A Walk Home, (now the Jordan's Furniture Walk/Run for Adoption benefiting MARE) bringing together hundreds of families throughout the adoption community to celebrate adoption and raise awareness and funds to help waiting children and teens find permanent homes.
In 2012, MARE received a grant from the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) to begin an intensive interdisciplinary Training on Adoption Competency (TAC) for mental health professionals. In conjunction with Child & Family Services/Adoption Journeys and Walker, MARE coordinates this in-depth clinically focused training for professionals throughout the state.
In 2015, MARE received a 2 year grant from the Adoption Exchange Association/AdoptUSKids to localize National PSAs in Massachusetts. A part time media liaison was hired to implement this grant in the Central and Western parts of the state. In 2016, MARE reorganized its staff, adding an Associate Director and a Director of Public Relations and Communications. Together with additional administrative support, this reorganization was aimed at building up the infrastructure of the organization to better position itself for growth. MARE began a strategic planning process that continues into 2018. In July 2017, MARE moved its offices out of Downtown Boston for the first time in its history to Newton, MA.
The history of MARE is filled with pioneering efforts on behalf of children who dream of finding an adoptive family. This proud tradition will endure as MARE looks to the future and continues to develop creative solutions to the need for permanent, loving homes for our children.