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.