Woman fosters 81 infants over 34 years

Linda Owens in the San Francisco Bay Area has opened her home and her heart for babies in need. For over 34 years she has fostered 81 infants. Danya Bacchus shares her story.

Video Transcript

- Finally tonight, on this Mother's Day, CBS's Danya Bacchus introduces us to a woman with a big heart and a special calling.

LINDA OWENS: And that big smile.

DANYA BACCHUS: Linda Owens of Hayward, California, has opened her home and heart to the smallest in need. For over 34 years she's fostered 81 infants and counting.

LINDA OWENS: I never married, I never had children, so for these babies to come into my care it's a rewarding, very rewarding, heartwarming thing to be able to have sleepless nights.

DANYA BACCHUS: The 78-year-old has been given many names through the years.

LINDA OWENS: Mama Linda, Ms. Linda, or baby whispers now.

DANYA BACCHUS: Do you remember all of the children that come into your care?

LINDA OWENS: They all have a mark in your life. I have pictures of when I started. I've got pictures in drawers, and pictures in boxes. Some of them come very small.

DANYA BACCHUS: A number of them have a tough start. Some newborns have been exposed to drugs and are developmentally delayed.

LINDA OWENS: A lot of them aren't on target, so this is what the challenging part is-- the reward is-- to see the smile, the eye contact.

DANYA BACCHUS: Owens' care's felt long after the babies leave her home. Erica adopted a baby Owen's fostered 12 years ago, and she still remembers her advice.

- If she's in her crib, she's like, leave her alone. I know you want to play with her, but if you wake her up, she goes, you're going to start interrupting her sleep time.

DANYA BACCHUS: You providing this safe and healthy environment for these babies, is allowing you to give the gift of motherhood to other people, or parenthood. Do you look at it that way?

LINDA OWENS: Yes, I do. When they're matched with a family that's going to adopt them, that's the warming part of the job that I have done to secure them, to build them trust to go on to their new adventure.

DANYA BACCHUS: Owens considers herself a temporary mother, but what she offers is everlasting. Do you know how much longer you will continue to do this?

LINDA OWENS: I would like to do it as long as the Lord gives me the health and the strength to do the job that I'm doing.

DANYA BACCHUS: A job, well done. Danya Bacchus, CBS News, Los Angeles.

- Mama Linda, Happy Mother's Day.