Bethany’s beginnings

Bethany began when our founders cared for one child who needed a home.

Serving one child

In 1944, Marguerite Bonnema and her friend, Mary DeBoer, agreed to care for a baby girl who needed a safe home. Over the next few months, they took in five more babies. That fall, with help from Andrew VanderVeer, they founded Bethany Christian Home as a nonprofit organization. In 1945, they moved the home to a residence on 13-acres in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Bethany’s headquarters now stands.

They began with a state license to provide child care. In 1951, Bethany obtained a child placement license and began serving as an adoption agency, finding families for 25 children. That same year, Bethany began providing pregnancy counseling services for 59 expectant mothers.

Bethany founders taking a picture in front of the first office.

Serving thousands around the world

Today—across the country and around the world—Bethany partners with churches and communities to strengthen and preserve families, find families for children who need them, and to support refugees and immigrants who have fled danger. We believe everyone deserves to be safe, loved, and connected.

We look back on Mary and Marguerite’s legacy with admiration and pride. Their story will always be an important part of our Bethany story.

Group photo of some of the first children under Bethany's care.

150 million reasons to help

Today, 150 million kids don't have a permanent home. To us, that's simply unacceptable. Together, we can change the world through family.