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Woman Who Always Wanted a Big Family Raises over 600 Kids in Nearly 50 Years

Brittany Chalmers
Jun 14, 2022
02:30 P.M.
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A woman from Iowa always dreamed about having a family and deserved the title of Super Mom after raising more than 600 kids. Read her story and discover why she was forced to stop her parenting mission.

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Raising children is challenging, and providing the best life for a dependant often requires sacrifices. Parents are responsible for creating nurturing environments for their kids, and the constant presence of a loving guardian can make a significant difference.

One woman went the extra mile, giving her loved ones much-needed care for nearly 50 years. Despite the struggles she faced, she always put her children first.

Linda Herring. | Source: facebook.com/KCCI

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FINDING HER PURPOSE

Linda Herring's compassion and love shine through when she smiles. She always wanted to have a big family but never anticipated how many children she would raise in her lifetime.

Her life took an unexpected turn thanks to her conversation with a friend. She was encouraged to do something she had never considered—little did she know she was about to find her purpose.

Linda Herring. | Source: facebook.com/KCCI

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WELCOMING MORE AND MORE CHILDREN

Linda's best friend fostered teenage girls, and soon an idea started growing within her. She was open to raising kids but wanted to parent younger children in need.

After speaking with the Department of Human Services, Linda started raising children with special medical needs. She also supervised a home daycare, helped as a high school night custodian, and volunteered her services as a first responder.

Sadly, Linda was forced to end her mission of raising more children in 2019. It was a decision she had been dreading, but it was unavoidable.

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There was no limit to Linda's desire to spread love and assist the most vulnerable in her society. For nearly five decades, she was known as a beloved maternal figure by the people of Johnson County, Iowa, and she never turned away a single child.

Toys in Linda Herring's home. | Source: facebook.com/KCCI

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HELPING CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

Linda and her husband, Bob, welcomed kids regardless of gender, age, or special needs. Wiping noses, helping with homework, and providing love to many kids wasn't easy, but it was worth it.

The 75-year-old's heart of gold and selfless attitude enabled her to tirelessly raise kids for many years. Their garage was always packed to the ceiling with clothing, arranged in size and gender.

Kids living under her roof never worried about what they would wear because she ensured they were cared for. After a few years of fostering kids, Linda made a big decision.

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Toys in Linda Herring's home. | Source: facebook.com/KCCI

"FAMILY ISN'T DETERMINED BY BLOOD"

Linda and her husband adopted three of their former foster kids, two of whom needed medical care and assistance. They always opened their hearts to the often overlooked and most vulnerable children.

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Anthony Herring joined their family when he was only six months old. He flourished in the Herring household, and while they always treated him like their son, the couple made it official when he was three years old.

The 39-year-old was grateful for his family, and he shared:

"I'm forever grateful for the life I was given. She [Linda] and Dad have both taught me that family isn't determined by blood, it's who you have in your life to love."

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HER FOSTER CARE TRAIT

Of Linda's five biological kids, four decided to become foster parents. The mother was proud to have inspired her brood to be selfless and think of the needs of others.

Three of her grandkids also took up the call to foster, and Linda said she had passed down her "foster care trait." Granddaughter Amber Herring obtained her license to be a foster care parent in 2018 and called Linda her hero.

She shared that her grandma always put everyone else first and added:

"I’ve had 22 foster children and have adopted 3 of them. Like my grandparents, I tend to take children with medical and/or special needs who are harder to place in a foster home."

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One of Linda Herring's children. | Source: facebook.com/KCCI

KEEPING FAMILIES TOGETHER

Linda's son Anthony couldn't find the words to express the impact of his adoptive mom's actions and cherished her presence. He expressed:

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"She was always available and ready for a child in need. These kids were usually taken from a traumatic situation ... She also worked hard to keep families together. Keeping siblings together."

Linda always did her best to assist biological parents, guiding them on possible ways to keep their kids. She also added a photograph of every foster child on her living room wall and made the children feel at home.

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INSPIRED BY LOVE

Linda's determination is commendable, and she often received questions about her motivation and passion for the kids. Her answer was simple—she was inspired by love. She said:

"I would just love (my foster kids) just like they were my own, probably more than I should."

Linda cried every time a child left her care and always found it difficult to say goodbye. She cherished the memories she shared with her 600 kids and felt honored to have protected and loved them for a season.

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ENDING HER MISSION

Sadly, Linda was forced to end her mission of raising more children in 2019. It was a decision she had been dreading, but it was unavoidable.

She faced health concerns that prevented her from providing the care she always aimed to give. Linda looked forward to visits from her former foster kids and held onto photos and cards that reminded her of them.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors honored the older woman for her service and the many lives she touched as a foster parent. They thanked her for the willingness to open her heart and home to those in need and wrote:

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"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."

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HONORED AND THANKED BY MANY

Linda's decision to become a foster parent echoed into future generations, and this was evident when Tonya Stratton reached out to say thank you. Stratton's mother was one of Linda's foster kids. She shared an online tribute:

"Grama Linda, it's now your time to relax ... 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 also called Linda "incredibly worthy" and gave her the applause she undoubtedly deserved. Linda's actions made a significant difference and touched hundreds of lives. What do you think about her drive to help others?

Click here for another story about a man who gave up his career to raise 63 children without parents. He devoted his time and resources to giving them a better life.

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