Since 1985, foster mom Linda Scott has welcomed 80 foster children into her home.
A Chelmsford resident and former medical professional, Linda specializes in supporting infants and youth with significant medical needs. Many have been given a grim prognosis at a very young age, but with her medical background and a hopeful spirit, Linda is not one to be intimidated by even the most complex diagnosis.
Linda’s fostering journey started with a personal favor. When a close friend fell on hard times, Linda agreed to care for her child. In the year she fostered for her friend, Linda discovered that she enjoyed opening up her home to those who were in need of a safe, loving place to live. She has been welcoming children and teens into her home ever since.
“I have had kiddos stay with me for 24 hours and up to 12 years,” says Linda. “Recently, many children have been placed with me due to drugs – their parent is addicted or the babies were born addicted. I also take in a lot of kids with rare diseases that most people wouldn’t be able to take in.”
The needs of Linda’s placements can drastically vary. She uses the time between one child’s departure and another’s arrival to consult the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) to learn about her kids’ unique conditions so that she can support them to the best of her ability. She sees it as her job to help them progress in every way possible. Despite being told that many of her foster kids would never talk, walk or live past a year, Linda has witnessed infants, toddlers and teens prove medical experts wrong time and time again.
“Do everyday things with them and treat them like your own, and they will amaze you.”
Linda has adopted three children of her own out of foster care over the years, two of which have defied their odds and taught her to never underestimate the power of love and the strong will of a child. Aaliyah, adopted by Linda when she was two years old, has a condition that caused her to be born without her pituitary gland, thyroid gland and hypothalamus. She is also partially blind. Linda was told that Aaliyah would never reach critical developmental milestones due to her diagnosis. Over the years, Aaliyah paved her own way, learning to walk and talk, excelling in school and graduating college. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice.
Over the years, Linda has always strived to establish and maintain a relationship with the parents or birth families of her foster kids, in an effort to create a circle of support for those in her care. She has built quite a few special bonds, including the one she shares with the biological mother of her late adopted son, Christopher.
“She and I sat down and she admitted she was the one who screwed up and I told her I admired her for saying that,” says Linda. “We started talking all the time and became friends. We would take (Christopher) out for the day, go to his family’s house and have cookouts. We had a few families that did that. I always try to do that when I can.”
Even after 80 foster kids, loving every child then having to say goodbye never gets easier, but seeing her kids grow up happy and healthy, and knowing that they are better off when they leave, keeps her motivated to continue helping as many children as she can.
Not only is Linda easily one of the most reliable and dedicated foster parents The Home has worked with in the last 20 years, she is certainly one of the most humble. When asked about caregiving for medically complex children, she steers any credit back in the direction of the kids for their inspiring ability to cope, and even thrive, despite their ongoing physical, emotional and behavioral challenges.
“Sometimes showing them love is all it takes.”