A woman was honored for fostering more than 600 children and looking after them as her very own.
Linda Herring loved the idea of having a big family, but never thought she would foster 600 children who would be given shelter, food, clothing, and love.
Now 75 years old, Herring has been fostering children for nearly five decades in Johnson County, Iowa.
Herring and her husband, Bob, who hail from Oxford, Iowa, have continued fostering even after moving to Tiffin. “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 said. “So, I talked to the Department of Human Services and agreed to take kids with medical needs.”
To fund her cause of fostering, Herring ran a home daycare for local families, she worked as a night custodian in a nearby high school and also volunteered as a first responder for nearly 50 years.
She is known for never turning away a child in Johnson County, irrespective of their age, gender, or special needs, and would even travel far and wide to pick up foster children who needed a home. Soon fostering turned into adopting.
Herring has eight children of her own, out of which, three were foster children she and Bob adopted, she was known to them as “Mom.” 39-year-old Anthony Herring is one of them, he was 6 months old when he became a part of the Herring household and was 3 years old, when he was officially adopted him.
“I appreciate being adopted even more today as a parent then I did when I was a child,” Anthony Herring said. “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.”
He said that Linda taught him how to appreciate and understand children with special needs as two of Herring’s adopted foster children suffer severe medical and special needs. One of them, Dani, is fully dependent on others for care and was given months to live after birth, but now is 29 years old.
Four of her biological children have fostered children, and three of them followed their parents’ footsteps and adopted kids of their own. Three of her grandchildren have also fostered children as well. “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,” Anthony said.
“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,” he added.
Herring’s explanation to fostering children, is love. “I would just love (my foster kids) just like they were my own, probably more than I should,” Herring 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.”
She remembers every little incident she had with the children, she says she was called in by DHS in the middle of the night to pick up three young children who had been abandoned. She also cannot forget the look on one foster girl’s face when she was given brand-new clothes, the first new clothes she said she was ever given.
Now even though her time as a foster parent is over, she treasures the photos and cards she gets from the children she fostered after they’ve been adopted, and also when her foster children come to visit after they’ve grown up.
This evening I got to take part in recognizing a woman who along with her husband Bob cared for well over 500 hundred…
Tonya Stratton, whose mother was one of Herring’s foster children, grew up calling Herring “Grama Linda” and spent her childhood making friends with Herring’s foster kids. “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,” Stratton said in a Facebook tribute to Herring.
“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 would meet anywhere to get a child’
Herring finally put a stop to fostering anymore children in October 2019, due to health concerns, her granddaughter, Amber Herring, said.
She was honored by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, with a resolution of appreciation for nearly five decades of serving as a foster parent to more than 600 children in Johnson County, IA. “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 resolution said in recognition of Herring’s efforts.
The Board of Supervisors, Department of Human Services and a standing room only crowd recognized Linda Faye Herring last night for nearly five decades of serving as a foster parent to more than 600 children in #JohnsonCountyIA. pic.twitter.com/wGV4jqEBMj
— Johnson County, Iowa (@JohnsonCountyIA) January 10, 2020
“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.”
What an amazing life of Christ-like love and sacrifice Linda Herring has lived, she is an inspiration to all of us and a role model to the next generation.