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Meet The 75-Year-Old Woman Who Has Fostered More Than 600 Children

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Kids pick up a lot of things from their parents — both good and bad. Children listen to and imitate the words their parents say, their actions and their beliefs (at least until they’re old enough to challenge them).

They can tell when their parents are genuinely interested in something and often that interest will take root in the child, as well. That seems to be the case for the Herring family, which is a lot bigger than most.

It all started with Linda and Bob Herring of Johnson County, Iowa. They ended up having five biological children and adopting three more, but they have also fostered over 600 children throughout the years.

“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, according to CNN. “So, I talked to the Department of Human Services and agreed to take kids with medical needs.”

“[Johnson County] would always bring me little ones,” she told KCRG-TV. “They knew I had a preference for baby girls.”

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The Herring home became a place of love and light for kids who had seen the uglier parts of the world. It was a sanctuary where each child was loved and cared for as an individual, even in the details.

One of Linda’s adopted sons, Anthony Herring, even said that whenever a new kid arrived, his mother would make sure their photo was included on the wall.

“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,” he said. “That seems like a small thing, but it helps them feel like they’re at home.”

Herring became known as the woman who wouldn’t turn any child away — even the most challenging cases had a place in her heart and home.

“We adopted a little girl who was in a wheelchair and she was handicapped baby,” Linda said. “The mom didn’t want her.”

The number of children that passed through her home didn’t phase Linda, who also at certain points ran a day care out of her home, worked nights and volunteered with the fire department.

“It was a benefit to me because I love kids,” she explained. “I’ve always loved kids. We adopted three. We had five of our own. We always had a big family.”

Her lifestyle rubbed off on her kids, four of whom now foster or have adopted kids of their own.

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“We’ve adopted a son,” said Bob, one of Linda’s sons. “I have a sister that’s adopted four kids, I have a sister that’s adopted five kids.”

“It’s really cool to see the impact she has on so many people lives,” Anthony said. “Not only that, just the way she lived her life and opening her door for kids all the time … She’s just been a good model for our family to always put other people first, so I think that’s been probably the biggest lesson I learned.”

“I appreciate being adopted even more today as a parent then I did when I was a child,” Anthony 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.”

“It’s not hard to open your heart to a kid,” Linda confirmed. “It seems like there’s always little kids that need someone to care for them.”

“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 appreciates when the children from her past catch up with her or send her notes. On Jan. 9, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors honored her for her 50 years of service, and a “standing room only crowd” showed up.

While she’s since retired from fostering, being 75, her life is still full of children — now they’re grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“And I love every minute of it,” she said.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking