California woman has fostered 81 infants over the past 34 years
78-year-old Linda Owens of Hayward, California was recently honored after taking in her 81st infant as a foster parent. “This is what God’s handed me a gift to do,” said Owens, a retired grocery department manager.
Owens took in her first baby 34 years ago, and cares for each child on her own. Sometimes she even watches two at a time.
Owens cares for the children until they are adopted or can return to their birth family. When she has to part ways with the babies, she often struggles to say goodbye.
“I can give her a kiss on the forehead and wish her the best, and say, ‘I love you,'” Owens said of the baby she is currently fostering. She has had this 7-week-old baby girl since she left the hospital as a newborn.
She gets paid for her foster care, but she also buys certain supplies like baby gear and clothing with her own money.
Many babies have come to Owens exposed to drugs in the womb, while others have developmental delays. Many of the babies do not sleep through the night.
About 140,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. About 59 percent of those adoptions come from the foster care system, according to Adoption Network.
Owens says she still remembers all the babies that she has cared for, despite all the years that have passed. The oldest child she cared for is now 37. She has also cared for three sets of twins. “It’s a challenging job,” she said, “but very rewarding.”