Linda Owens, a 78-year-old retired human resources manager from Hayward, California, has served as a foster mother to 81 infants over the last 34 years. “What I do comes from my heart for every fragile infant who needs a good start in life,” Owens said, according to a report by the Washington Post.
Her first foster baby came to her in 1987 from Alameda County Department of Children and Family Services in Northern California. Since then, she has taken in several newborns each year. Often, the infants have been exposed to drugs in their mothers’ wombs, so they remain with Owens under court orders until a judge determines they can be reunited with their parents or they are adopted.
Owens said some of her infants “had pretty rough journeys in utero, and there are very few who haven’t been drug-exposed.” This meant “a lot of nurturing, sorting-out and structuring to do to get them a good start in life.”
“Nurturing these babies has been my calling — I feel like it’s a gift God handed to me to do,” she said. “When they’re ready to leave my home, my hope is that what I’ve instilled in their lives for the future will go on with them.” Her last infant was a baby girl who stayed with her for seven weeks before she was adopted by a new family.
Sometimes the infants only stayed with Owens for a few days or weeks, while others lived with her for months. “I’ve had some who were 22 months old before they were adopted into their forever family,” Owens told the Post. “My oldest girl would now be 34. I think about her often.”
According to Owens, the goodbyes are always “very emotional” and she “remembers them all.” She added, “I always imagine what their lives are like now. I did the very best I could for them. And now I hope they have fallen into a good life.”
The Washington Post notes that Owens “was recently honored by a local television station and is among the longest-serving of Alameda County’s 500 foster parents….”
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there were more than 30,000 babies in the American foster care system under the age of one in 2020, though many are not legally adoptable. For additional information and resources on adoption, click here.
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