A woman in Hayward, California, has fostered more than 80 babies over the years through foster care.
Linda Owens has cared for 81 infants in 34 years as a resource parent. “It’s a challenging job, but very rewarding,” she says.
The 78-year-old retired grocery department manager has fostered the babies as a single parent. “This is what God’s handed me a gift to do,” said Owens, who has loved taking care of babies since childhood.
She remembers every one of her 81 foster children. Lately, Linda Owens took care of a 7-week-old baby girl after she left the hospital as a newborn. The baby is the 81st infant she brought into her home.
She has stocks of baby gear and clothes some are bought with her own money. Many of the newborns came to her exposed to drugs in the womb and as a result, have developmental delays. They don’t sleep through the night.
Mia Buckner-Preston is the Placement Division Director of the Alameda County Department of Children & Family Services, which places children in foster homes.
“Her experience, the care, the love she provides to the babies, it’s immeasurable,” said Buckner-Preston. She is among the county’s 500 resource parents and also one of the longest-serving. “She’s in a category almost all by herself,” said Buckner-Preston.
Pediatrician Mika Hiramatsu says her vast experience taking care of babies comes handy. “She’s always been very optimistic, always determined to give these babies the best possible start in their lives,” said Dr. Hiramatsu.
The parents of the babies also gain from her experience. Erica adopted a baby girl Owens fostered 12 years ago and gave her good advice about the baby. “She’s in her crib. Leave her alone. I know you want to play with her but if you wake her up, you’ll start interrupting her sleep,” said Erica.
Today, Erica and her daughter still visit with Linda and share the tween’s milestones. “She’s turned out beautiful,” Owens smiled. “It makes you feel good that you fulfilled your job.”
Once her job is done and the time comes for her to hand the babies to their birth or adoptive families, it can be heartbreaking. She remembers them all. The oldest is now 37. She’s also cared for three sets of twins.
The baby that she is presently cradling in her arms who will soon leave, Owens said, “I can give her a kiss on the forehead and wish her the best, and say, ‘I love you.’”