This woman has fostered over 600 children in 50 years: "I loved them like they were my own"

This woman has fostered over 600 children in 50 years: "I loved them like they were my own"

Linda Herring has five biological children and went on to adopt three of her foster children.

When Linda Herring first started fostering children with her husband, little did she know that she would end up raising more the 600 of them. The idea came to her when she saw her best friend taking in teen girls to care for them. "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 Herring who began fostering with her partner, Bob when they lived in Oxford, Iowa. "So, I talked to the Department of Human Services and agreed to take kids with medical needs," she added, according to PEOPLE.

But even after she moved to a different city, Tiffin, continued fostering kids, reports CNN. The next thing she knew, the 76-year-old from Johnson County, Iowa was celebrating five decades of fostering children. In a "standing room only" ceremony organized by her local Department of Human Services back in 2020, she was presented with the honor. To celebrate her milestone achievement, Herring was also awarded a Resolution of Appreciation from the government service as her illustrious tenure came to an end. Apparently, she had to stop fostering in October 2019 owning to her own health concerns. 


But looking back, she loved having her home filled with children. "I would just love (my foster kids) just like they were my own, probably more than I should," she shared. "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." Fostering children is not all Herring did but she also ran a home daycare and even worked as a night custodian in a nearby high school.

The good samaritan, who was also a first responder for nearly 50 years, is known all across Johnson Country for never turning down a child irrespective of the circumstances. Herring, who reportedly has five biological children, adopted three of her foster children. Anthony Herring, 40, was just 6-months-old when he was taken in by Herring who officially adopted her at the age of 3. "I appreciate being adopted even more today as a parent then I did when I was a child. I'm forever grateful for the life I was given. She and Dad have both taught me that family isn't determined by blood, it's who you have in your life to love," Anthony told CNN. 


"It's hard to say in words her impact. She was always available and ready for a child in need. These kids were usually taken from a traumatic situation and she'd take them in, provide a warm bed, clean clothes, warm meals, and love," he continued. "She also worked hard to keep families together. Keeping siblings together. Helping biological parents make the changes needed to be able to keep their children. She always makes sure a new child in her home was given a professional photograph that was placed on the wall in the living room. That seems like a small thing, but it helps them feel like they're at home." 

The Resolution of Appreciation that Herring was presented last year mentioned why she deserved the honor. "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," it read. "Linda mostly fostered young children with special medical needs and kept bins of clothes in her garage, stacked to the ceiling, labeled by size and gender. No one had to worry about a child going without clothes at Linda's, even if they arrived with nothing but what they're wearing."

Cover image source: Twitter | Johnson County, Iowa

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