Matching area teens with forever families at MARE Meet and Greets

. August 1, 2017.
The Heart Gallery is a traveling display of available children waiting for adoption.
The Heart Gallery is a traveling display of available children waiting for adoption.

There are currently more than 300 older children ages 8-17 in Michigan foster placements,  waiting anxiously to be adopted. Ann Arbor-based Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) has a unique program designed to match these kids with prospective families and help them realize their goal of finding a forever family before they age out of the system.

Meet & Greets

Jessie Thompson, the recruitment specialist in Ann Arbor, says that MARE is “a helping hand for families who want to adopt from foster care.” The agency sponsors regular events called Meet & Greets, where individuals who have been approved to adopt come and meet youth who are available for adoption. The kids and families spend a fun day together eating pizza, playing games, and getting to know about each other firsthand.

Sally-is-one-of-Michigan's-teens-who-is-hoping-to-be-adopted-soon

Sally, a Michigan teen, hopes to be adopted soon.

Success stories

Thompson says that the Meet & Greet program has led to many successful matches and that several are in the process of finalization now. At one particular Meet & Greet, a single dad bonded with a 14-year old boy over basketball and air hockey. That bond eventually led to adoption, and the father and son are now regular speakers at MARE events where they assure others that adopting teens is both possible and desirable.

Thompson is passionate about the need for teens to be adopted. Because many adoptive families want a baby or younger child, the older kids that MARE works with are much harder to place. She says that there are over 100 tweens and teens in the tri-county area waiting for a family. “You don’t stop needing a family at any age. Kids who are 17 and looking to go to college still need a family to come home to. They’re never going to stop needing a family to open their home and love them,” she explains.

Christopher-is-looking-for-a-forever-family

Christopher is looking for a forever family.

First steps

For area families who are interested in adopting an older child from foster care, Jessie says that the first step is to call MARE. Families can speak to an adoption navigator, who can answer any adoption-related questions because all navigators have been through the adoption process themselves. Additionally, the MARE website is full of links and resources that families will find very helpful. They can also direct families to an adoption agency where they can attend an adoption orientation.

Avont-is-one-of-hundreds-of-Michigan-teens-waiting-for-an-adoptive-family

Avont is one of hundreds of Michigan teens waiting for an adoptive family.

Community involvement

For those in the community who would like to get involved or help MARE, Thompson says that they are always looking for new churches and business partners to host a Meet & Greet for 40 to 50 people. Venues like bowling alleys, trampoline parks, and gyms are always popular with the kids. The organization is also looking for professional photographers to take photos of available children for the Heart Gallery, a traveling photo display used to create awareness around the state. Contact MARE to volunteer as a host for a Meet & Greet or as a photographer.

Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange
3840 Packard Rd.
(800) 589-6273 | mare.org