Taking on the role of a foster parent is a monumental responsibility, one that requires a lot of patience and an enormous heart. Foster parents fulfill all of the daily responsibilities of a parent, in addition to the emotional toll of giving yourself fully to a little one knowing that it’s only temporary. Sadly, nearly half of the infants who enter the foster care system have faced neglect, and more than half come from homes with parents who abuse drugs or alcohol. Transferring unhoused infants into loving foster homes is of the utmost importance, and nobody understands the vital nature of a good foster parent quite like Linda Owens.
Linda Owens is a 78-year-old retired grocery store manager living in Hayward, California. Rather than retire to a life of leisure, Owens decided to change the world for the better. Throughout the past 34 years, the single mom has fostered 81 infants – sometimes two at a time.
Anyone who has raised their own infant knows just how exhausting it can be. We give ourselves pep talks, remembering that one day they’ll sleep through the night, eventually they’ll become more independent. But for Linda Owens, her time as a foster mom comes to an end before her babies can feed themselves, use the toilet, or even tell her how much they love and appreciate her.
The babies who are fortunate enough to end up in Owens’s expert hands often require more care than the average infant, some even going through drug withdrawal after exposure in the womb. Owens, however, is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to help.
“It’s a challenging job, but very rewarding,” Owens told KPIX. “This is what God’s handed me a gift to do.”
Owens’s 34 years as a foster mom means that many of her foster babies are now fully grown adults, the oldest now being 37 years old. But Owens has a special place in her heart for each and every baby that has passed through her door, and to this day, she remembers every single one. Some adoptive families have even kept in contact with Owens over the years, sharing their children’s milestones with the woman who helped complete their families.
CBS affiliate KPIX recently honored Owens with a Jefferson Award in recognition of her life-changing efforts, the same month Owens took in her 81st foster baby. Saying goodbye to an infant you’ve poured so much love into raising seems impossible. But for Owens, it’s a sign that she did her job, and did it well.
Of the baby girl Owens is currently fostering she says, “I can give her a kiss on the forehead and wish her the best, and say, ‘I love you.’”