GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Sue and Bob Wierenga of Grand Rapids has welcomed more than 140 foster children into their home over the past 35 years.
It's a story that truly demonstrates the impact foster parents can have on both the children and the birth parents they come in contact with.
At 69 years old, Sue and Bob Wierenga are still picking up baby toys. But they don't belong to their grand kids, they belong to their current foster children. The two youngsters are just two of the dozens they’ve cared for over the past 35 years.
Their fostering began in 1985 when the couple filled in fostering a two-year-old. "We fell in love with him," said Sue. "And that's the start of our fostering."
Since then, 140 children have come through their home. Some were eventually adopted, while others reunited with their birth families.
"We have a role to play, and we enjoy doing it," says Bob. "We know that at some point that role will end and the child will leave, and we're going to have feelings, too. We're happy to have them for a short time and maybe bless them for a bit here and love them and get them on the right track."
"We want them to know that there are homes that do fostering that love the children and treat them as their own, and I love the parents too," says Sue.
Fifteen years ago, Gaytha Gibbs was one of those mothers. "It was going all in my head. 'I got a baby. I got to take care of my baby. But I can't," Gibbs said.
Gibbs was battling addiction at the time and gave up custody to the Wierengas, a decision that helped both her and her baby. "I couldn't have done what I had to do if I didn't know my baby was being taken care of and I knew he was being taken care of."
The Wierengas say fostering is a mission they hope to continue as long as they can.
"I still think there's more kids out there that need my love, and our love," Sue said.
The couple has three birth children and has passed on their love of fostering. Their daughter is currently in the process of obtaining her foster care license.