BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — For more than 30 years, Tony and Jayne Rice have opened their home to dozens of children with special needs.
“We just found our niche with special needs kids,” explained Jayne. “They appreciate everything that you do for them. Just rub the top of their head and they smile. It’s a rewarding thing to do.”
The foster parents continue to care for longtime placements Jayson and Chris, both 44, who are developmentally disabled and non-verbal. The couple has been caring for the pair since the 1980’s.
They’ve also adopted Shane, 12, who is blind and suffers from cerebral palsy. A toddler, Sophie, who is in perfect health, was also adopted as a baby. Over the years, they have taken in and loved more than 20 kids, many of whom were disabled.
“I don’t know what you really call a normal life. This is normal for us,” Tony told FOX 17 News. “We enjoy it. This is our life.”
Tony, who just retired from the Battle Creek Area Mathematics Science Center after 23 years, is looking forward to spending more time with the kids.
“I used to get on [my students] from time to time, saying, ‘I have you during the day and I have my special needs kids and night, and guess who works harder?’ My special needs kids,” he said.
The Rices are still licensed and said they will continue to consider future placements.
“Most people take one look at us and say ‘Oh God bless you’,” said Jayne. “It just makes me feel good. It just makes me happy.”