75-Year-Old Has Fostered Over 600 Kids: 'I Had So Much Love To Give To Children in Need'

Linda Faye Herring

Linda Herring was destined to have children -- over 600 of them. The 75-year-old from Johnson County in Iowa was recently celebrated for her five decades of fostering kids in a "standing room only" ceremony thrown for her January 9 by her local Department of Human Services.

  • The celebration comes at the end of an illustrious tenure as a foster parent.

    Herring was also awarded a Resolution of Appreciation from the government service, a tweet from January 10 noted.

    Herring first started fostering with her husband Bob with they lived in Oxford, Iowa, and continued when they moved to a different city, Tiffin, CNN reported.

    "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," Herring explained. "So, I talked to the Department of Human Services and agreed to take kids with medical needs."

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  • Herring also ran a home daycare and worked as a night custodian in a nearby high school while caring for her many foster children.

    A bonafide good samaritan, Herring also was a first responder for nearly 50 years. She was known all across Johnson County for never turning down a child, no matter what the circumstances.

    Herring has five biological children, but over the years she adopted three of the children she fostered. Thirty-nine-year-old Anthony Herring was only 6 months old when he went to live with his adopted mother, and at 3 years old he officially became a member of the family. 

    "I appreciate being adopted even more today as a parent then I did when I was a child," Anthony Herring told CNN. "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."

    Herring's other two children have severe medical and special needs -- one of whom is completely dependent on others for care. 

  • Herring's generosity has even inspired a "foster gene" in her children -- four of her biological kids have fostered and three have adopted needy kids.

    "It's hard to say in words her impact," Anthony said. "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."

    "She also worked hard to keep families together," he said. "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."

    In October 2019, Herring had to stop fostering because of her own health concerns, but she looks back fondly on the days when she had a house bursting with children. 

    "I would just love (my foster kids) just like they were my own, probably more than I should," she said. "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."

    In the Resolution of Appreciation Herring received last week, it stated the many reasons why she deserved this 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," it continued. "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."