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Recently, the headlines, "13 kids and counting: 65 year old German mother pregnant with quadruplets dismisses critics" was a human interest story that brought back fond memories.

Annegret Raunigk, a Berlin school teacher, a single parent of 13 children who is soon to retire gave birth to four babies. Her children are ranging in age from 9-44 are from five fathers. She decided to get pregnant again because her nine year old daughter wanted a younger sibling.

When I wrote for the Londoner the title of one of my columns: "Rob and Debi celebrate the arrival of their 31st child." was an eyeopener.

He strode into the Bob Hayward Y waiting room with a newborn child in a car seat tucked easily under his arm. Six foot-five and two hundred pounds of muscle. He told me that his name was Robb and this was his families 31st child. Funny, no one laughed or called him a liar.

He gave me his telephone number and promised to ask his wife Debi if she would give me an interview.

First thing Friday morning I met with the Den Oudens in their kitchen. Rob has been a custodian for the Thames Valley District School Board for the past 15 years Of late he has drawn the 3-11p.m. shift coming home at 11.30 p. m. to spend a few precious minutes with Debbi, his "domestic goddess."

When I came into the house there was Debbie sitting on a kitchen room chair. She was happily feeding William, a three month old child, they had picked up at the hospital when he was 24 hours old.

The Den Oudens have been fostering babies for 10 years and William is their 31st child. The infants stay with the family varies between one day all the way to 18 months.

The proud parents described a typical day. Rise and shine at 5.30 a.m. to take care of the family needs. At first William had to be fed every two hours. Diapering, bathing and feeding 365 days a year is the norm for newborn babies.

It is sure hard to find a baby sitter who is willing and able to tend to the needs of the children. An evening out for dinner is a fond distant memory. ``Ones freedom is sure restricted when you have to care for new born babies.``

The family receives $30.00 per day-a little over $1.00 per hour for a 24 hour day for each child they care for. The cost of diapers, Pablum and other baby needs comes out of the cheque. Any good parent knows that you don`t stop the care giving in the middle of the night - there are no statutory holidays or time and one half for overtime.

It is very hard to give the babies over to the adopted parents even though you know that all of your hard work makes the adoptions possible. The day that the babies leave is usually sad and hard for the family.

I had to ask, "Why would anyone want to constantly care for someone else`s baby?" Rob and Deb both laughed . Simple answer: `"we both love children."

There is a need for foster parents. The Den Oudens have some wise advice to those contemplating fostering. Qualifications: loving parents with copious amount of patience, a good sense of humour and a thick skin to handle the baggage. Rob reminded me that "sleep is highly overrated."

With our busy self indulgent world there are few people who are willing to give up their expensive solitary way of life to embrace a large family. According Stats Canada 2013 the "typical family" was a couple with no children. The average number of children at home per family was a whopping 1.9 child per family. At that rate we are not even reproducing our selves and have to rely on immigration from off shore to be able to sustain ourselves.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com