Adopt Massachusetts Kids

8700 children and youth, living in foster care, in massachusetts, Call 1 (866) 306-6603

You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent

Consider Adoption?

The road to adoption as a way to create or add to your family is different for everyone. One of the first decisions to make is to figure out which type of adoption best suits your family. There are three types of adoption: foster care, domestic infant, and international. Regardless of type of adoption, Massachusetts requires that all families work with a licensed adoption agency. Learn more
The process of adopting a waiting child can seem overwhelming at first. Adoptive families have the choice of working directly with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or with one of several private agencies that have a contract with the state. The eligibility requirements, process, and pool of waiting children are very similar regardless of which agency with whom you chose to work. There are no fees involved in the process of adopting from foster care, regardless of which agency you choose to work with. We encourage you to speak with multiple agencies to get a sense for which agency feels like the best fit for your family. Learn more
Today in Massachusetts, there are approximately 7,000 children in foster care with a goal of adoption. More than 500 of these children have no identified match and are in need of a permanent family. The children MARE serves are all in the custody of the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF). Learn more
Children do not need perfect parents! They need loving individuals who are fully committed to supporting them on their life’s journey, whatever that holds. Learn more about the most important “requirements” for adults interested in adopting a child, teen or sibling group from foster care. Learn more
What is the MAPP training?
How long does it take to adopt a wating child?
Is there financial support available for adoptive families?
What's MARE's role in all of this?
Learn more

Types of Adoption

Adoption from foster care

MARE’s mission supports adoption from foster care. All of the children MARE serves are in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and reside in either foster homes or residential facilities. The majority of these children are ages six and older, and many are children of color, and children who have not yet been legally freed for adoption. There are no fees involved in adoption from foster care. MARE works with DCF and private agencies that contract with DCF to find permanent, loving homes for these children.

Domestic Infant Adoption

This type of adoption involves working with a private agency to adopt a newborn infant. Often the adoptive family will be matched with a birth family who is making an adoption plan for their baby. There are varying degrees of openness between the adoptive and birth families. There are fees associated with this type of adoption that may include fees for the homestudy, birth parent expenses, and post placement services.

Intercountry Adoption

This type of adoption involves working with a private agency to adopt a child from another country, most commonly from Eastern Europe, China, Central and Latin America, Africa, and India. Children adopted from abroad are of all ages. In addition to the Massachusetts adoption agency requirements, families must meet the requirements of the foreign country in which the child resides and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. There are fees associated with this type of adoption that may include fees for the homestudy, fees to the agency in the foreign country, post placement services and travel expenses.

Steps to become an adoptive parent in Massachusetts

1. Inquiry

Call Adopt Massachusetts Kids at 1 (866) 306-6603 and discuss with a worker your interest in becoming an adoptive parent and learn about agencies that serve your region of the state. You may want to attend a scheduled Adoption Information Meeting where you will learn more about the process of adopting a child from foster care.

2. Application

Upon your request, a social worker will visit with you. You will receive an application. Complete the application and return it to the office/agency you have chosen to work with in your journey to adopt. You will be assigned a social worker who will provide you with guidance and support throughout the process.

3. Safety Check

Backgound record checks, including criminal and state child welfare histories are completed. Your home must meet physical standards established by state law and regulations. We seek to ensure that your household is a safe environment for placing a child or sibling group.

4. Training

Once your application is approved, you will be invited to attend a pre-service training program. The training prepares adults to parent a child from foster care. You will learn about the needs of children who have experienced neglect and abuse. The training covers such topics as communication, building self esteem, child guidance, understanding behaviours, and working with agencies and courts. The training will also give you the information you need to begin and participate in a mutual home study process.

5. Home Study

This is the time when a social worker will visit you, interview you and your household memebers and will request personal references. At least two visits will occur in your home. The home study is a mutual assessment process, it allows you to actively engage in deciding whether a particular child or sibling group is right for you. The social worker completes the home study for approval. The home study identifies your family’s strengths, it will also identify the type of child who is the best match with your family.

6. Licensing

Once your homestudy has been completed and approved, you become licensed to adopt.

7. Matching & Visiting

Social workers will match the needs of a child or sibling group with your strengths. You will be given all available information about the child so you can make an informed decision about moving forward. You and the child will have pre-placement visits and support prior to placement.

8. Placement, Support & Finalization

Placement decisions are mutual and are based on the planned transition schedule. You receive support throughout the process. When the child is placed, you will work with the child’s social worker and with your social worker, issues are assessed and services located that will support the child and your family, as may be needed. A child must be legally free and reside with you for at least six months before legalization by the court can occur. Based on the child’s needs and adjustment, it may take longer.

9. Post Adoption Services

Support services continue to be available to you and your family after the adoption is legalized. Post adoption services can be sought when a child is approaching developmental milestones or when a crisis occurs in the family. Services are available on a periodic or ongoing basis.

Who are the children
waiting for adoption?

Children of color

More than 50% of the children registered with MARE are of African-American or Hispanic descent and are in need of families to support their cultural, ethnic and linguistic identity.

Sibling groups

Over 40% of the children registered with MARE are a part of a sibling group for whom we are seeking a family that will allow them to be adopted together. Additionally, many children being recruited for individually have sibling relationships that need to be maintained even if they are not able to be placed together.

Children with emotional, physical
or intellectual challenges

All children in foster care have experienced some degree of abuse or neglect. How this trauma impacts a child’s development varies dramatically from child to child. Having suffered past losses and often finding the adults in their lives unreliable or unable to care for them, many of these children are slow to trust new people and may test a family with their behaviors until trust is won. Children with a history of rejection or loss may present challenging behaviors in order to test out if they will be disappointed again. Behaviors such as being withdrawn, argumentative, hoarding food, lying, or competing for attention are not uncommon as a child learns to establish a relationship with their new family.

At legal risk

Children are considered legally free when the parental rights of their birth parents have been legally terminated. While parental rights must be terminated for an adoption to be finalized, children are often placed into a pre-adoptive home prior to the conclusion of this legal process, a situation referred to as legal risk. Many children waiting for adoption, particularly younger children, join their adoptive families as a foster-to-adopt placement and may remain at legal risk for an indeterminate period of time.

Open Adoptions

Open adoption refers to any type of contact between the child and his/her birth family after the adoption legalization. This ranges from annual cards and letters, to occasional face-to-face contact. Open adoption agreements can be either informal or legally binding. The decision to have some form of open adoption between the birth and adoptive families will be determined in the best interest of the child and is often addressed as part of the legal process to terminate parental rights. Many waiting children also have important relationships with siblings, extended family and former foster families which they wish to maintain in an adoptive family.

Wonderful children and teens!

Despite adverse circumstances that resulted in the child needing an adoptive family, youth in foster care are often very resilient, and bring dynamic talents, interests and joy into their adoptive families. Come get to know some of the incredible youth waiting in foster care today by visiting the Online Photolisting Profiles on our website at www.MAREinc.org, or in the Heart Gallery at any Jordans Furniture store.

Meet the children

Can I adopt a child from
foster care?

Children do not need perfect parents! They need loving individuals who are fully committed to supporting them on their life’s journey, whatever that holds. Probably the most important “requirements” for adults interested in adopting a child, teen or sibling group from foster care are:
  • Being able to offer a child unconditional commitment, love and support
  • Flexibility and the ability to tolerate the unknown
  • A good sense of humor
  • Ability to advocate
  • Stability and self-confidence
  • Good communication and problem-solving skills
There are many myths about who is eligible to adopt from foster care. You can be:
  • An adult of any age, as long as you are at least 21 years old. There is no upper age limit to adopt from foster care
  • Single, married, partnered, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
  • Starting your family or have other children in your home
  • A homeowner or renter
  • Of almost any income level, as long as there is a stable source of income that can support the family; there is no cost to adopt a child from foster care and financial and medical subsidies may be available
  • Of any race, ethnicity and religion
  • An adult with a medical or mental health condition and disability; disabilities or medical conditions are not reasons for automatic disqualification from the process; they will likely be a consideration when deciding what type of child you can best parent
  • A US citizen or a qualified, documented alien
  • A Background Record Check will be completed on all applicants. If you have a charge on your CORI, you can apply for a waiver. If a waiver is granted, you will be eligible to proceed with the adoption process

More information

What is the MAPP Training?

All adoptive families are required to complete MAPP Training and the homestudy process in order to be approved for adoption from foster care. The training is designed to help you gain the best possible understanding of, and preparation for, parenting an adopted child. These processes are best thought of as a mutual learning process both for the family to explore adoption, as well as for the agency to get to know the family. While some prospective parents are apprehensive about this process, it is in your best interest to truly get acquainted with your social workers so that they can best support you toward a successful adoption. The more your social workers know about you and your family, the better equipped they are to help match you with a waiting child and support you throughout the process.

How long does it take to adopt a waiting child?

It typically takes an average of one to two years, from making your initial inquiry to having a child placed in your home. One of the main factors affecting this timeline is the type of child you seek to adopt. Families seeking to adopt younger children with lesser needs tend to wait longer because there are fewer of these children waiting. Families open to older children/teens, children of color, sibling groups and those with more significant needs are likely to be matched more quickly.

Is there financial support available for adoptive families?

Yes. Children with special needs who are adopted from foster care are eligible for adoption subsidy through the age of 18. Subsidy approval is not based on the adoptive family’s income but on the needs demonstrated by the child and is re-evaluated annually. Children who are adopted at older ages or as part of a larger sibling group are typically granted subsidy. If a child does not have any defined special needs at the time of adoption, they will receive a deferred subsidy, making them eligible for subsidy in the future should a greater level of need become apparent. Currently all children who are adopted from foster care are eligible for health insurance coverage through Mass Health. Additionally, there is a Tuition Waiver Program available to all children adopted from foster care, which provides free undergraduate tuition to any of Massachusetts’ state and community colleges and universities, if the student is admitted. Room, board and other fees are not included in this waiver.
For further information on Adoption Subsidy and Tuition Waiver Programs in Massachusetts, contact the Department of Children and Families at 617-748-2000.

What's MARE's role in all of this?

MARE collaborates with DCF and contracted adoption agencies to recruit families for waiting children and teens, and to provide support for current and prospective adoptive families. MARE is not a licensed adoption agency and does not train, homestudy or license adoptive families. MARE staff are available during business hours to answer any of your questions about adoption throughout the process, from connecting with an agency to learning about specific waiting children. Once your homestudy is approved, MARE offers the ability to inquire about waiting children and submit your homestudy for consideration. MARE also offers support and guidance to families throughout the adoption process through our Family Support Services and Friend of the Family Mentoring Program. Additionally, MARE hosts adoption events throughout the state, which are opportunities to meet social workers and waiting children.
Visit us online at www.MAREinc.org to sign up for our e-newsletter and you will be notified about upcoming opportunities to continue to learn about foster care adoption. Follow us on facebook and twitter, too.

Speaker's Bureau

The Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) and the Speakers Bureau recognize that the best recruitment and retention tool for new foster and adoptive parents are the stories shared by those who have previously engaged in the foster and adoptive process. Often, the media will request an interview with families or individuals who have specific adoption experiences such as: adopting from other states, adopting sibling groups, adopting pre-teens or teenagers, adopting a child/ren of a different race/ethnicity or adopting a child/ren from the MARE or AdoptUSKids website.

As a Speakers Bureau participant you may be called upon to:
  • Speak to local, state, and national media representatives
  • Represent MARE at foster care and adoption events
  • Have your story featured on our website, social media channels, email newsletters, and other publications
  • Participation is always at your discretion
To give you an example, each year the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, coordinates media coverage at courthouses throughout the state to highlight spokes-families and the adoption process. Speakers come from a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds and familial constellations. We have opportunities for adults as well as for teens/young adults to tell their story in a meaningful way. And again, participation is always at your discretion.

If you have interest in participating in the Speakers Bureau we encourage you to fill out the release form and application as an adult, family or teen/young adult. We are equally happy to speak with you to answer any questions that you may have beforehand.

Contacts and Forms
Please right-click on a form and save it to your computer before entering any information.
Once completed and signed electronically, please email it to the representative indicated below.

If you live in Eastern Massachusetts, the Cape or the Islands, please call or email Diane Tomaz at 617.54.ADOPT x116
If you live in Worcester County or Western Mass. please call or email Joe Sandagato at 617.54.ADOPT x122
Online Forms Worcester County and Western Massachusetts

Contact Us

Call Us
1 (866) 306-6603
45 Franklin St # 5
Boston, MA 02110