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88-year-old woman is being honored for fostering 40 kids over the span of 40 years

An 88-year-old woman was separated from her husband in the '80s and all she knew was taking care of kids.

88-year-old woman is being honored for fostering 40 kids over the span of 40 years
Cover Image Source: YouTube | WUSA9

Growing up in a loving family is a gift, and Emma Patterson understands its value deeply. For 40 years, she created a safe and nurturing home for over 40 foster kids in Montgomery County, Maryland. Currently, she has one child who will be graduating from high school this year, after which she plans to retire from fostering, reports TODAY.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

For Patterson, it was never about the money but ensuring these kids did well. The 88-year-old said, "The best part of everything is all of my children have turned out to be absolutely fantastic." The Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich recognized her years of work with an award presented to her on May 31, 2024. She said, "For them to recognize me in the way that they have, it has just touched my heart."

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Patterson has welcomed kids as young as 5 and even teenage parents with their babies. Many of these children have stayed in touch with her over the years. addison Scott, who was 5 months old when she came to Patterson's home, now plays basketball at the University of Mississippi, reports NBC Washington. It all started for Patterson when she separated from her husband in the '80 and the only thing she knew was taking care of kids. She told TODAY, "I had been married quite a long time, and I was sort of trying to find my way because I didn't really have a career."


According to a county spokesperson, she is one of the longest-serving foster parents in the county and has raised the most kids. She shared that she had never done anything, thinking people would pay attention to it. "This was just something that I felt I wanted to do," she expressed. Other than the kids she fostered, Patterson has two biological children and helping their friends led her to be a foster parent.


"It started with some of my children's friends not being taken care of. My children would bring them home and I would just try to give them something to eat and let them have a place to stay. I would just do the best I could to help them a little bit," the 88-year-old said. She is a proud parent to all her kids and said that they have become business owners, basketball players, and more than that, "just wonderful humans."

She believes their success shows how well she raised them. Patterson shared her approach, "When they say 'Foster parenting,' it's the parenting part, not that foster part, that's important to say. That parenting part, you have to put 365 days into it, 24 hours a day. You have to really try to be there 100% for the kids because the kids, most of them, would not be in foster care if it wasn't something traumatic and bad that happened." She could do it because she was raised by loving parents and knew what kind of environment kids needed.

She said, "I was raised in a family where every day I knew somebody loved me." "I knew somebody cared about me. If you can be raised in an environment where somebody just really loves you and truly cares about you and is just kind to you, I think that means more than anything else," Patterson said. The woman cherishes her fostering experience. She feels it was "God's gift" that she could take care of all those children. "I'm very thankful," she shared. "I have no money in the bank. I don't have anything, you know, but I feel that in my heart it's something that I can just take to my grave with me."

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