June 15, 2021 by Cathy Stack
The first newborn Linda cared for was in 1987 for the Alameda County Department of Children and Family Services. She says that baby girl, whom she thinks of often, would be in her thirties now.
The foster mom says the best part about caring for infants is when she sees their smile and engaging eye contact. Linda says that she enjoyed providing care to each infant and remembers them all. “They all leave a mark on your life,” she says. She has drawers filled with pictures of the babies she has cared for throughout the years.
Family Services values Linda as an exceptional foster mom whom they rely on when they have an infant in need. They contact her several times a year to pick up newborns who are not allowed to live with their birth mother at that time due to a court order. Many of the infants were exposed to drugs in the womb, while others are developmentally delayed. They all require special care.
“The small babies who come to me under 5 pounds are required to eat every two hours. They need as much love and care as you can possibly give them,” explains Linda.
The babies typically stay with Linda until a court decides it is safe for them to reunite with their parents. Alternatively, they are matched with an adoptive family. The infants are usually in Linda’s care for a few days or months. In some special circumstances, the infants stay for longer periods. She usually takes in one baby at a time; however, she is licensed to have two infants at once. Over the years, she has cared for three sets of twins.
Linda describes the moment when the child leaves her haven for their new home as bittersweet. She knows her job is to “secure them, to build their trust to go onto their new adventure.” She holds the infant close for one last hug and a kiss goodbye on the forehead and wishes them well in their new life. She hopes the love she has instilled in their lives will carry with them to their future.
Since Linda is now retired, she is free to travel and do whatever she desires. However, she feels compelled to continue taking care of infants, which she believes to be her life’s calling. The lack of sleep and demands of the job are worth it all, she says. She plans to continue to be a foster mom until her health forces her to quit.
Linda explained that her love for newborns goes back to her childhood. She has vivid memories of watching her mother, a nurse, who often cared for sick infants in their neighborhood. Linda’s compassionate nature and gift for child caring made her the one that family members called on for babysitting duties. Since Linda never married or had children of her own, fostering was a way to satisfy her maternal yearnings.
“I’d always wanted to do something with children, and babies were my passion,” she explained.
Linda was inspired to become a foster mom in 1986, when she met a neighbor who was a foster mom. She recalled thinking that it would be a challenging yet rewarding thing to do.
When Linda had a full-time office job, her sister volunteered to watch the infants for her during work hours. “I would drop them off at her house at 5:30 in the morning, and she would watch them with her own kids,” the foster mom recalls. “My sister knew how important it was.”
As a foster mom, Linda is paid a stipend for each infant in her care, but most of that money goes to purchase baby food, diapers and clothing.
Linda fondly reflects on the newborns she has nurtured throughout the years. “I did the very best I could for them. And now I hope they have fallen into a good life.”
Linda’s local TV station recently honored her with the Jefferson Award for her longstanding service and outstanding dedication to fostering the most vulnerable in our society.
PassItOn and Foundation For A Better Life also believe Linda Owen is a true hero for opening her home and heart to the most vulnerable newborns. Her loving action demonstrates the value of caring. In providing these vulnerable infants with a safe and nurturing home, she has impacted generations of children. She was the person who was there when the newborns needed someone the most. Please help us celebrate Linda and share her heartwarming story.
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