The Courage
to Believe

Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange
FY21 Annual Report



Photo by

Brandi Ebersole

The Courage to Believe...

Adoption is Possible

Letter from Executive Director & Board President

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Lisa Funaro

Executive Director

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Dana Lehman

Board President

Every year, children and teens in foster care face enormous obstacles to finding adoptive homes – these obstacles that have only been harder to overcome in a difficult pandemic year. The pandemic brought chaos, fear and isolation to the world.  Imagine what that was like for a child who doesn’t have the support of a family!  For those of us who have never had to experience the loss and trauma that children in foster care have experienced, it can feel impossible to comprehend. 

It is easy for our society to write these kids off and dismiss the possibility of a better future for them. But we have the courage to believe that adoption is possible – for every child.  Every child deserves the love, stability, and permanence of family.    


For 64 years, MARE has always sought to work with particular urgency for the youth who wait the longest for adoptive homes. We know that children with significant medical and developmental needs, children of color, teens, and sibling groups all face greater challenges to adoption. These children wait longer for adoptive homes and are more likely to age out of care without ever finding permanency.  


This past year, we’ve reorganized our work to focus on these youth who wait the longest for adoption and built two new programs to address barriers for these kids in innovative ways. The Weekend Family Connections program connects adolescents in residential care with host families in the community, and the Specialized Recruitment Coordinator program brings specialized, community-oriented recruitment strategies to help children with significant physical and developmental challenges.  


Each child’s path to adoption is as unique and individual as they are. That’s why we’ve focused on creating customized, tailored recruitment plans according to each child’s own needs and situation. Through individualized recruitment, we are creating better outcomes for the kids who need our help the most.  


This is the heart of what MARE represents. The courage to believe that adoption is possible for every child – and the will to make it happen using every ounce of compassion, collaboration, innovation, and hard work we have.  


We couldn’t be more excited to share with you all the amazing things we have accomplished together this past year.  And we will preview our strategies to reach two other groups of youth who wait the longest – children of color and LGBTQ+ youth.  Our commitment to addressing the large number of children of color waiting for families will be taking central stage as we look to our broader community to work together to recruit more families of color for these youth.   


We want to acknowledge all our partners that have helped us do our work during this extraordinary year:  the increased number of families expressing interest in adoption from foster care, experienced families who have mentored those that are struggling, the social workers who have hung in there and worked tirelessly to match their kids with families, the amazing team at MARE and the MARE Board of Directors and all our supporters who realized that this year has been tough and have given so generously.  Together, we are redefining what’s possible for children and teens in foster care.  

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The Courage to Believe...

In Our Mission

By the Numbers

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Families served in FY21.

*47,000 Families
served to date


Consultations with families through the Family Services Department


of placements were children who wait
the longest -
174 children


Total Placements

Photo by Anne Hurlbut


MARE changed our lives and helped us build our family! When we decided to adopt, we didn't know where to start. MARE gave us so many opportunities that led us to our son!
-Silver Family

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With the confidence that adoption was possible for them, sisters, Alee and Savannah worked with MARE to create a Video Snapshot and met Kim and Paul Brinkman not long after through a virtual matching event for sibling groups.

Read Their Story

The Courage to Believe...

We Will Be Adopted

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For many children in foster care, the idea that unconditional love and support can exist within an adoptive family can be difficult to believe. Sisters Alee and Savannah experienced this exact uncertainty during their 10 years in foster care, doubting that any family would ever love them for who they are.  


Until about a year ago, the girls didn’t know if they saw adoption as part of their future. It took courage for them to consider trusting a new family after a negative experience in their former foster home, but as they faced the prospect of aging out of care, they decided the risk was worth it. 


“We were tired of how our foster parents treated us,” 15-year-old Alee said. “They said they would kick us out at 18, so the only option we had was finding a home.” 


With the confidence that adoption was possible for them, they worked with MARE to create a Video Snapshot and met Kim and Paul Brinkman not long after through a virtual matching event for sibling groups. Kim and Paul were drawn to the girls after seeing their Video Snapshot at the event and wanted to take a chance on them.  

When we found out we were getting
adopted, it was just pure joy... -Alee

The family remembers getting dinner together the first time they met, followed by an overnight visit at the Brinkman family’s home. They all felt an instant connection, and Kim and Paul permanently welcomed Alee and Savannah into their family just a few months later.  


“When we found out we were getting adopted, it was just pure joy,” Alee explains. “We were finally leaving a house that wasn’t supportive or open at all.” 


Abby explains that the girls struggled to find a permanent home largely due to their age and the misconceptions that exist about teenagers in foster care. Now, Savannah encourages families to look past those stereotypes and take a chance on older youth. 


“Teenagers aren't bad at all,” she explains. “They're actually really fun to hang out with! Some teenagers may take some extra work, but they're great.” 

Kim and Paul feel the same, explaining that no matter how old a child might be, they never grow out of the need or desire for a permanent family. 


“All kids, especially teenagers, need a safety net...and somewhere to go for Thanksgiving,” Kim says. “Even when they grow up and go off on their own, they need someplace to call home.” 


The possibility of being without that safety net was very real for Savannah, who turned 18 just a few months after moving in with the Brinkman family. She had worried in the past about what turning 18 in foster care would mean for her, especially in terms of her relationship with Alee.

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Even when they grow up and go off on their own, they need someplace to call home. -Kim

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“I definitely wanted to get adopted before 18,” she said. “I thought that if I didn't have a home, I'd be in a group home, and Alee and I would be separated for good. That’s something I didn't want.” 


Kim and Paul knew how important it was for the girls to be adopted together, too.  


“Kids in foster care lose out on so much that it's really important for them to have somebody who has shared experience with them and who knows what they've been through," Kim explains. “We wanted them to have each other for support.” 


Maintaining their sibling connection has been a critical part of the transition for Alee and Savannah. Knowing that they’ll always have each other to go to or exchange looks across the living room with has only made their relationship stronger. 


Since moving in with the Brinkman’s, Alee and Savannah have enjoyed trips to the beach, vacations to Maine, and shopping trips to some of their favorite stores. And while adoption has changed everything for them, the word “adoption” feels like just a formality. It’s the bond that they’ve formed and the love that they share that truly makes them a family.

Alee and Savannah’s resilience and courage to believe in adoption reminds us of what’s possible for every single child in foster care, regardless of the obstacles they might face along the way. These outcomes are what we work toward each day at MARE, because every child deserves a place to call home

Photos of Brinkman Family by Judy West


The Courage to Believe...

We Can Make
a Difference

Say No to the Status Quo

Children of Color

Addressing disproportionality in Child Welfare 

Children of color have historically been overrepresented in the United States foster care system, which often leads to longer waits for their permanent placements and higher rates of aging out of foster care. 


We believe that no child should age out of foster care without the love, connection, and support that comes from permanency. That’s why we’re committed to addressing these inequities by recruiting more adoptive families of color, matching children of color with families who will advocate for their positive racial and cultural identities, and providing intensive, individualized recruitment services for children of color. 


This year, we continued to find new and innovative ways to improve outcomes for children of color. In FY21 alone, we are proud to have placed 115 children of color with adoptive families, accounting for 59% of all children placed. 

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Photo by Tricia Saxler


Residential care is a type of live-in, out-of-home care placement in which staff are trained to work with children and youth whose specific needs are best addressed in a highly structured environment.

Weekend Family Connections

Redefining What’s Possible for Teens in Residential Settings


Youth in residential care are less likely to find an adoptive home, but the Weekend Family Connections program is changing the possibilities for these kids. By connecting older youth with weekend host families, we give them the chance to experience family life, connect in their community, and find an adoptive home. 

Photo by Erin Anderson

Specialized Recruitment Coordinator

A dedicated staff member focused on beating the odds for our most vulnerable youth.


35% of the children MARE serves have complex medical, developmental, or emotional needs. We know that typical recruitment methods often hit dead ends for these children,
which is why we developed our Specialized Recruitment Coordinator program.

We value customized, tailored recruitment that patiently searches for families that match each child’s specific needs. The SRC position allows for us to take this practice to a whole new level for the kids who need us most. By exploring each child’s existing and prior social networks, mobilizing community resources, and developing creative public recruitment strategies, we leave no stone unturned and no possibility unexplored. 

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Photo by Suzanne Durand

It takes a village to find
an appropriate team to
adopt a child and MARE
is part of our village.

Photo by Suzanne Durand


Photo by

Shaanon Cabral

Virtual Events

Creating more specialized matching events than ever before.


We matched 14 children with adoptive families thanks to our virtual events this year. 


As we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, we have been lucky to not only continue hosting successful virtual matching events but to create more opportunities for our children who wait the longest than ever before.

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Children Who
Wait the Longest

Read More

We hosted 11 matching events that focused specifically on our children who wait the longest for adoption. 

Photo by

Lisa Anderson

Here's Why That Matters

Children of color, teens, sibling groups, children with special needs, and LGBTQ+ youth are among those in foster care who wait the longest for adoption. These youth often wait years longer than their peers to find permanent homes through no fault of their own. 



Read More

In FY21, we committed to hosting matching events specifically featuring siblings. As a result, we placed
87 children who were part of sibling groups: a total of 42 sibling groups.

Photo by

Kathlyn Morgan

Here's Why That Matters


It’s estimated that over 70% of children are separated from at least one of their siblings while in foster care. Despite the urgent need for families to adopt sibling groups, there are few families who are willing or able to take them in together. 


LGBTQ+ Youth

Read More

This year, we improved our
recruitment efforts by enhancing our data collection to most authentically represent our waiting youth.

Here's Why That Matters

Every child deserves a permanent, loving home regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ+ youth often enter foster care due to rejection and a lack of acceptance from their families, and we recognize the need for open, affirming families who will love them unconditionally. 


The Courage to Believe...

In Going
the Extra Mile

Heart Gallery

The Heart Gallery is a striking exhibit of portraits of children awaiting adoption, taken by volunteer photographers, that is housed in several locations across Massachusetts. Along with our Video Snapshots of waiting children, seeing these photos and videos is often a catalyst moment for adoptive families, moving them to explore adoption from foster care or inquire about a specific child. 

Photo by

Shaanon Cabral

During FY21, we’re proud
to have produced 
37 Heart Gallery photos. 

Photo by Zakery Lewis
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Photo by Judy West
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Photo by Shaanon Cabral
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Photo by Bryn Gingrich
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Photo by Tricia Saxler
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Photo by Shaanon Cabral
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During FY21, we’re proud
to have produced 
47 Video Snapshots. 

Before contacting MARE, we felt totally lost
and anonymous, but now I feel like someone cares about our family, and the connection
is helping us through the process.

FY21 Financials


Department of Children & Families

Individual Donations

Grants & Corporate Support








$ 18,400



Program Services

General & Administrative







& General
Program Services
Change in Net Assets from Operations


Non-Operating Revenues

Forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program Loan



Change in Net Assets

Net Assets Beginning of the Year

Net Assets End of Year





Photo by Judy West

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Thank You
to our Donors

Donors are the glue that hold a nonprofit organization together, and what allows MARE to build families. Thank you to the people and organizations who provided a contribution of $1,000 or greater during FY21 through financial gifts, in-kind donations, or peer-to-peer fundraising.

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Photo by

Lisa Anderson




Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

The Clipper Ship Foundation


$50,000 - $99,999


George Frederick Jewett

Foundation East

Cabot Family Foundation

The Cummings Foundation

Jordan's Furniture

Jack Williams Endowment For 

Wednesday's Child


$25,000 - $49,999

J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation

The Peabody Foundation


$10,000 - $24,999


Liberty Mutual Foundation

Orville Forte Charitable Foundation

Charles H. Hall Foundation


Anthony Jordan

Harold Brooks Foundation

Frank W. & Carl S. Adams

Memorial Fund

George W. Wells Foundation

Gratis Foundation

Maximus Foundation

The Grace E. Brooks Trust

The Max & Victoria Dreyfus



$5,000 - $9,999


Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation

Adelaide Breed Bayrd

Jessica Alm Family 

Grand Lodge Knights of Pythias

Dana and Amanda Schreckengaust

Lehman Family 

Kelli J. Powell Esq. Family 

Baystate Financial

Charitable Foundation

Fred Harris Daniels Foundation

Greater Worcester

Community Foundation

Hamilton Company

Charitable Foundation


Nathaniel and Elizabeth P.

Stevens Foundation

Rachel Harris and Kenneth

Aspeslagh Family 

$1,000 - $4,999


Bethesda Lodge #30 Independent

Order Of Odd Fellows

Richard Dubois Family 

Shawn McNinch Family 

Johnson & Johnson Matching

Gifts Program

Yardi Foundation

Jane and PT Hart Family 

Stephen and Wendy Briggs Family 

Todd L. Brown Family 

Paul Lam Family

Joshua Herzig-Marx and Carla Naumburg Family 

Jason Hayes Foundation

Michael Baker Family 

Deborah A. Yamin Family 

Shurtleff Children's Services, Inc.

Samuel and Margaret Carr Family 

Avidia Charitable Foundation

Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation

Florence Electric, LLC

Patriot Subaru of North Attleboro

Robert Hallett and Joanne

Donovan Family 

Jameson and Margaret Grant Family 

Lawrence Angrisani Family

ICF Matching Gifts Program

David Florence Family 

Jerrold Fleishman Family 

Katherine Funaro Family 


Bill Firth Family

Tracey Aronson Family 

Randy Ross and Jill Smith Family 

Harold Grotevant Ph.D. Family 

Jeff Krieger and Brian Curry

Krieger Family

Karen Litchfield Family 

Nima and Katharine Eshghi Family 

Samuel Engel and Anne Freeh Family 

Worcester Financial Group, Inc.

Give With Liberty

Emily and Benjamin Goldberger Family

Dell Technologies

Cynthia Campo Family 

Matthew D. Rockman Family 

Mark Zuroff Esq. Family 

Evan and Andrew Duffy Family 

Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Cynthia Wilson and Christopher L.

Gorton Family 

Insource Services, Inc.

James Froio Family 

Jeffrey and Philomena Lehman Family 

Joanne Morris Family 

Kevin and Melissa Martin Family 

Prone Family Foundation

Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation

Stacy and Jason Hill Family 

Keri Califano and Mary Belge Family

Town Fair Tire Foundation

Anthony J. LaCasse Family 

Special Thank You to:


The Cummings Foundation

10 year/$50k grant for Weekend Family Connections (WFC)


The Clipper Ship Foundation 

supported WFC in 2019

and then gave $100k

in 2021 for WFC again

Cabot Family Foundation

gave $25k for WFC in

2019, 2020 and 2021


J.E. & Z.B. Butler Foundation

 gave $35K for the Specialized Recruitment Coordinator (SRC)

position in 2020 and 2021

The Peabody Foundation

gave $15k in 2020 and $25k

in 2021 for the SRC position

The Philanthropy Connection

gave $25K in 2019 for WFC and
$25K in 2021 for SRC position


George Frederick

Jewett Foundation East

gave $15K in 2018 for WFC
and $60K in 2018 & 2019 for technology/database development.
Gave $50k for upgrading our
CRM to Salesforce in 2021


© 2023 Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange