CASEY, Ill. (WTHI) - An Illinois couple is making room in their home and hearts for needy children.
Bobby and Melinda Stutesman have adopted 13 children and have fostered many more. The couple says there is a growing need for foster and adoptive parents.
The couple started fostering 25 years ago. At the time, the parents were caring for Bobby's biological daughter, Ashley. Melinda says they agreed to foster two children but they eventually welcomed many more into their home.
The circumstances leading each child to the family is different. Melinda says some parents loved their kids but were just unable to give them the life they deserved. She adds, other biological parents chose a life of drugs over their children.
Melinda says drug addiction has pushed more kids into the system and the need for foster homes and adoptive parents continues to grow.
Some of the Stutesman children are grown now and are supporting themselves.
Melinda says, "Every one of them has made me proud, every single one of them."
Daughter Cassandra became part of the family at the age of fifteen after bouncing in and out of the system.
"When you are a teenager in the system, you know, it's really hard to find parents that love you and nurture you. If it weren't for them, I don't know where I would be."
Melinda's niece Catrina Phillips says she watched her cousins grow.
"They are great kids and I'm glad that Melinda and Bobby have made the decision that they made."
The couple is still fostering and are in the process of adopting more children.
Melinda says, "Open your heart up and your home. These kids all need a home."