Linda Herring has been fostering children for almost five decades.

Linda Faye Herring Fostered Children
Credit: Johnson County, Iowa

A 75-year-old woman from Iowa has spent the majority of her life caring for hundreds of children in foster care, and she was recently honored with a resolution of appreciation by her local government.

Over the course five decades, Linda Herring has taken in dozens of foster children while running a home daycare and working nights as a custodian, she told CNN. Herring has given kids a home no matter how old they were or if they had special needs, and she would often travel to pick up a child in need.

“I would just love [my foster kids] just like they were my own, probably more than I should,” Herring told CNN. “I cried when the kids would leave my home, no matter how long they had been there.”

Herring told the outlet that she was first inspired to help foster children when her best friend began providing shelter to teenage girls.

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

Along with her five biological children, Herring has adopted three children who were once under her care. Anthony Herring was one of those children.

“I appreciate being adopted even more today as a parent than 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.”

According to the Adoption Network, about 428,000 children are currently in foster care in the United States and more than 114,000 cannot be returned to their families. Only 135,000 children are adopted in the country each year.

Nearly 20,000 children will age out of the foster care system when they reach the age of 18 or 21, depending on the state where they live, AdoptUSKids reported. These young people will then be at increased odds of experiencing homelessness and becoming unemployed, the organization said.

According to CNN, Herring and fostered more than 600 children in the 50 years since she started.

But in October 2019, Herring cited health issues as the primary reason she could no longer take in any more children.

To honor Herring for all the good she has done in her life, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and Department of Human Services commemorated her with a resolution of appreciation on Thursday.

Herring said that despite how difficult it has been to part with the children she has cared for over the years, she knew that they needed love and she had plenty of that to give.

“It was so hard for me to say goodbye to them,” Herring recalled to CNN. “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.”