Did you know that there are more than 400,000 children and youth in the U.S. currently in foster care? Did you know that of these, more than 100,000 children are waiting to be connected with their forever families through adoption?

Each May, National Foster Care Month serves to raise awareness of the facts to encourage families to explore foster care and foster-to-adopt programs. During the month of May (and every other month of the year) we ask for your help in promoting these programs and celebrating the amazing foster parents, volunteers, mentors, child welfare professionals and others who help children in foster care find permanent homes and connections.

For American Adoptions, our connections to foster care run deep. So, to help celebrate National Foster Care Month, we’re sharing the story of how one family’s commitment to foster care grew into a passion for building loving families.

The Mars Family

It all started 35 years ago when Ted and Susan Mars came to their son, Scott, with an important question.

“My parents came to me and said, ‘Scott, what do you think about becoming a foster family for an adoption agency?’” Scott recalls.

Scott, being an adoptee, loved the idea of being able to give back to other children and families. The family knew that they wanted more than anything to help connect these children to their forever families.

Before they knew it they had opened up their home and their hearts to a beautiful baby girl named Heather. After Heather came another child, and another, and another. Over the years the Mars family fostered 157 babies who went on to live wonderful lives with their adoptive families.

“I got to experience giving that child love and being a part of that, of seeing a child go on to an awesome life like I had,” Scott said. “I got a feeling of what it was like to be a part of and making a small child’s life better, to be that bridge between adoption.”

Love and Opportunity

The beautiful act of fostering children planted a seed in the Mars family. A seed that could only grow by continuing to give back to children and the act of adoption.

As Scott finished up his Business and Psychology degrees, his mother, Susan, came to him with an idea: She wanted to start an adoption agency. Thus, Scott, Susan and Ted set about making this dream a reality.

In 1991, American Adoptions was founded.  And as the company grew, so too did the Mars family’s passion for adoption and helping to build families.

Now, 25 years later, American Adoptions is one of the largest, most successful adoption agencies in the U.S. and has completed over 5,000 adoptions since its doors opened.

“I think back to how we felt when we were foster parents. We knew that we were helping to do something that was important, to help someone else become a family. I have the same feelings for each adoption that we do,” Scott said. “We get to be a part of helping that child have a life of love and opportunity, just like I did.”