Some people choose to have a couple of children in their lifetime. Others may decide that raising children isn’t for them. The decision partially comes down to personal preferences, resources available, and lifestyle choices. Regardless of the reasons, every individual has the choice to decide whether or not children will be in their future.
Then there are rare people like Linda Herring from Johnson County, Iowa who decide to foster children for most of their adult life…over 600 children, that is! Due to all of her hard work over the past five decades, the now 75-year-old woman was recently given a Resolution of Appreciation award from her local government.
Linda was first introduced to fostering from her very good friend.
“My best friend was doing foster care for teenage girls and I thought, ‘Well, that would be nice to do the same,’ but I wanted little kids,” said Linda. “So, I talked to the Department of Human Services and agreed to take kids with medical needs.”
Even when Linda and her husband Bob moved from Oxford, Iowa to Tiffin, they continued to foster children.
Linda especially fell in love with caring for foster children. In fact, according to her, she would “love [her foster kids] just like they were [her] own, probably more than [she] should.”
While Linda found it hard to let each foster child go when it came time to say goodbye, she knew it was her mission in life to continue to be a foster parent for other children out there.
“I cried when the kids would leave my home, no matter how long they had been there. It was so hard for me to say goodbye to them. I always questioned, ‘Why do I keep doing this?’ because it was never easy to say goodbye to a child. But I kept doing it because I had so much love to give to these children in need.”
So, Linda and her husband continued to foster children, some of which had severe medical setbacks and other special needs. Over the years, they went from fostering dozens of children until, eventually, that number hit the hundreds.
In fact, “the Department of Human Services would call Linda in the middle of the night to take a child, and she would meet anywhere to get a child.” The foster mom would never refuse to take in a child, regardless of their state of health, gender, or age.
And although she always had children in her household, Linda made sure the resources to raise these young, needy children were never scarce.
According to Tonya Stratton, the daughter of a foster child Linda cared for, “Grama Linda, it’s now your time to relax, but first, you must learn the definition of that and then learn to sit without rocking, learn to appreciate quiet, no more piles and piles of laundry to fold, groceries to buy, diapers to change.”
“It’s your time now to rest, go through your memories, put your feet up or take a nap and try to understand how incredibly worthy you are to do whatever the hell you want.” she continued.
Although as of October 2019, Linda is no longer fostering children due to the state of her health, four of her biological children and three of her grandchildren were inspired by her to start fostering as well. In addition, three of her children decided to adopt.
And as of January 9, 2020, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors made sure to formally honor the incredible woman for her hard work that spanned more than half of her lifetime, recognition well-deserved!
What a wonderful impact Linda has made for hundreds of lives! Watch the video below to learn more about Linda’s work.