By TIM RUSH
How many children are in your family? One, three, five?
Although they never had more than 13 children in the home at one time, Pleasant Grove residents Aaron and Bonnie Card have helped raise 40 children.
“It’s a neat adventure having a lot of kids,” Aaron said.
10 of their kids are, as the Cards say “home made,” 10 of them have been legally adopted, and the other 20 were taken into their home as foster children.
Aaron likens his home to the United Nations because so many countries are represented by their children. They have kids who are Korean, Indian, Mexican, Polynesian, Native American, African and European.
51 years ago Aaron and Bonnie met at the original broadcasting station of KBYU, where Aaron was working as a disc jockey. After their first date, they decided to get married and start a family… a big family.
“Some people think it’s wonderful, and some people think it’s foolish,” Bonnie said.
In the early 1950s, Bonnie started getting strong feelings, or “urgings,” as she calls them, to adopt orphans. She continued having these feelings for 16 years. In the mean time, she and Aaron were having children of their own.
The Cards were on a teaching mission in American Samoa when they adopted their first child. Bonnie said when they would adopt a child the urgings would go away for a while, then they would come back.
To support the family, Aaron worked as a teacher and administrator in the public schools for 24 years, then he worked as a seminary teacher for another 19 years.
To earn some extra money while the kids were at school, Bonnie tended young children.
Bonnie said most of the children they have taken into their home have been replacement children. These are children who have been brought from other countries for people to adopt, then for one reason or another, the families decide not to keep them.
Bonnie said they get about 17 calls per year from adoption agencies asking them if they would take care of some older children, she said they had to say no a lot.
Some of their children have mental or physical handicaps. One of their sons, Poncho, is a paraplegic. He and his twin brother were adopted when they were about three years old. He said his parents have done a great job in raising their children.
“They are very loving people,” Poncho said.
In 1993, Bonnie won the Mom USA award. She said this national award was a validation of her work.
“It was kind of like a pay-off from mortal man,” Bonnie said.
Aaron said during the years they have had a lot of fun as a family. The children played games together like hide-and-seek. Aaron said the African kids especially liked that game because when they hid they could not be seen unless they smiled.
But, it was not all fun and games.
“Sometimes it was very difficult, but the gospel brings joy despite the troubling times,” Bonnie said.
As active Latter-day Saints, the Cards always took their children to church and taught them the principles of the gospel at home.
The Cards consider themselves modern pioneers by bringing people from many different cultures to Utah Valley. Bonnie said for many of the local school children it was the first time they had seen a Polynesian or a Korean person. She said the school kids would sometimes call her children names. Bonnie consoled the children by telling them nobody escaped grade school without being called names.
Bonnie said she would take quiet moments to teach the children important truths.
“I loved to sit with each child alone, to get to know them individually,” Bonnie said.
The Cards said the greatest blessing they have received over the years is a greater understanding of their Heavenly Father, and knowing that they have grown closer to him by serving his children.