Michigan foster care and adoption guidelines

Contact information

MARE (Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange)
Phone: 800-589-MARE (800-589-6273)
Email: MARE@judsoncenter.org
Address: 3840 Packard Rd. Ste. 170, Ann Arbor, MI 48108

Things you should know

Foster and adoption licensing requirements

Here is a brief explanation of the different ways families and individuals help bring love and stability to the lives of children.

  • Foster care is meant to be temporary; adoption is meant to be permanent.
  • Because foster care is considered to be a temporary placement, it is not a good idea to become a foster parent with the expectation that you will always be able to adopt a child placed in your care. A foster parent is expected to work with the agency and birth parents in the hopes that the family will be reunited.
  • If parental rights are terminated, though, relatives and/or foster parents will be considered first as adoptive homes for the child.
  • Here is more information about fostering.
  • There are children whose parental rights have already been terminated, and these children need adoptive families.
  • Once your licensing process is complete, you may start inquiring about children in whom your family is interested. Your adoption worker will share information about your family – including your family assessment – with the child’s worker. Usually, workers gather information on multiple families at the same time to find a family that best meets the needs of the child. Once the family has been chosen, the child’s worker will share more in-depth, detailed information with the family’s adoption worker. Usually called a child assessment, this report contains information such as how the child came into foster care, how long the child has been in care, how many placements the child has lived in, and any diagnoses the child may have. It is then up to the family to decide if they want to proceed with an adoptive placement.
  • Find more information about adoption.

Who can foster or adopt?

  • You do not have to be married to foster or adopt a child or children. Many children will thrive in a single parent home.
  • You do not need to own your own home. A rented home or apartment is fine, as long as there is adequate bedroom space per child. The home must be free from health and fire hazards and must have a safe play area for children.
  • You do not need to be rich to adopt or be a foster parent. Even if you receive some type of financial assistance, you are still eligible to provide foster care or adopt as long as you have resources to provide for your family.

Anyone applying to foster or adopt must meet the following qualifications:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Complete a licensing application  
  • Successfully complete background clearances for all adult household members  
  • Provide medical statements for all household members
  • Have an environmental inspection (when applicable)
  • Provide three acceptable references
  • Pass on-site visits to the home by the licensing worker
  • Attend training pertinent to foster care issues

If you have a spouse or live-in-partner, they will also be required to participate in the home study process as well as attend the PRIDE training series (Parent Resources for Information, Development and Education) with you.

For more information, the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) website provides answers to frequently asked questions.

Costs to foster and adopt

Some private agencies will require a home assessment fee. However, once the family adopts a child from the foster care system in Michigan, the family must be reimbursed that fee by the agency for a Michigan child. If the family adopts a child from another state’s foster care system, that family may be reimbursed through that state’s nonrecurring adoption expenses. Also, if a child in foster care is eligible for a subsidy, then the adoptive family may be eligible for reimbursement of limited nonrecurring adoption-related costs. Most families are only responsible for court filing fees and the new birth certificates, which is approximately $200.  Ask the agencies you contact if they have any upfront fees you should know of.

Agency contact and orientation information

Due to changes at the state level, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offices no longer provide adoption services. Therefore, you will need to identify a private agency that can provide the adoption services you require.

To obtain orientation information, please contact the agency nearest to you or go to the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) for a list of trainings delivered by agencies across the state of Michigan.

Parent support groups

The Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) is a huge resource link for the state of Michigan. It is a vital resource, and has a comprehensive calendar of support group meetings, conferences, and training opportunities.

Faith Community Coalitions on Foster Care also provide support for foster care adoptive families. Visit the website to find a coalition near you.

In 2011, MARE welcomed adoption navigators to the staff to help prospective adoptive families complete the adoption approval process.  Navigators are experienced adoptive parents who have completed the home study process, gone through many hours of parent and professional staff training, and welcomed children to their families through foster care, infant domestic, and international adoption programs.  Working with an adoption navigator is a free, voluntary service provided by MARE, and families are not required to work with the adoption navigator program. For questions, contact MARE at 800-589-MARE (6273) or email mare@judsoncenter.org.

Information on children

There are approximately 14,000 children in foster care in Michigan, and each year approximately 3,000 of these children will become legally free for adoption.  On average, 300 children are waiting with no identified families.  Will you be able to step up for Michigan’s children?

For more information, contact the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) at 800-589-MARE (6273) or email mare@judsoncenter.org.

Upcoming events

Please consult the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) for a comprehensive calendar of support group meetings, conferences, and training opportunities.

For more information, please contact the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) at 800-589-MARE (6273) or email mare@judsoncenter.org.