Highland mom raised 12 foster children (video)
Linda Bang could have easily named her Fresh ‘n’ Easy bakery at 331 Hasbrouck Ave. in Kingston “A Baker’s Dozen” in honor of her kids if she had only raised one more.
It wouldn’t have been out of the question for the woman who lovingly opened her home to 12 — not 13 — neglected children in the Greene County foster-care system years ago.
“My kids are blessings,” said the 54-year-old Highland mother and Kingston businesswoman.
“They have blessed me so much, and I think they’re going to go on and bless the world.”
The woman with the big heart and tender voice, no doubt, looks at the kids she raised under her roof as her own.
All of them — Jackie, Christal, Sam, Kimberly, Eva, Cynthia, Heather, Christian, Daniel, Peter, Chrissy and A.J. — are now grown.
Only six of them remain at the 13-bedroom Highland home on 100 acres, where they grew up.
“It gave them room to play and climb trees and run through the woods,” Bang said.
That, like so many other factors, was important for her foster children to grow up normally and happily, she said. Continued...
Her “kids,” now ranging in age from 19 to 37, came from homes where parental rights had been terminated due mainly to neglect, Bang said.
There were challenging days and even rebellious moments, but she and her husband, Raimond, gave them a stable home with lots of love and firm boundaries.
“They were kids that, in general, there wasn’t a lot of hope for. They needed security and love and what all kids need,” she said.
“Anyone who has teenagers, if you multiply it by nine, because I had nine at once, that’s what we had. There have been trials, but there have been joys as well.”
The whole notion of taking in foster children was not something the couple set out to do.
“I was not able to have children,” Bang said. “I married a little later at 28 and was so anxious to start a family, and then I found out.
“We looked into adopting, but the wait is like five years, and we were not considering foster care. We had heard that kids come and go, but then we decided to give it a try.”
The first one, Kim, came in 1990 at the age of five-weeks old.
Bang said the now 21-year-old Kim had been diagnosed as a “failure-to-thrive” baby because her weight was significantly below the norm.
“It didn’t matter to me,” Bang said. “We were handed this little bundle of child and we loved her to health.” Continued...
Next came Jackie right before Christmas at the age of 15 and then 4-month-old Eva in January of 1991.
Before you knew it, the Bangs had a whole clan of kids learning the rules of the house and how to get along with each other as brothers and sisters.
The couple ended up adopting 11 of the 12 children and went through all the regular ups and downs of parenting a household of kids.
Bang, an accountant who once had her own firm, left the work force and took it upon herself to home school the kids.
“It was around the kitchen table mostly. We would have math and breakfast first thing in the morning. Then we’d move into the living room. They’d be on their blankets curled up as I’d read history.”
There were also the milestones of the teenage and early adult years.
“Eight of my kids were competitive swimmers on the Dutchess Devilfish and the New Paltz Hawks,” Bang bragged. “A.J. went on to the finals for the New York State YMCA Swimming Championship. They all did great.”
There were also college educations and (so far, three) weddings to pay for as well as family vacations to Disneyland and, of course, birthdays and holidays.
“Christmas was stressful, but it was always fun,” Bang said. “We’d always let the kids peek in the presents.”
Since the kids have grown, Bang has gone back to work, turning the former Hasbrouck Deli into the Fresh ‘n’ Easy bakery that features her famous cinnamon buns in the morning and hearty soups and sandwiches for lunch. Continued...
Those who haven’t gotten married and moved away help out regularly.
“It’s good because I can still be with them,” Bang said. “They radiate joy and welcome everybody, and they’re giving to the community what Ray and I gave them.”
One of the things she is most proud of is that most of her kids are either in college or have good jobs.
She said they have turned out to be hard-working, honest and generous human beings, who carry no baggage from their past.
“I believe the one thing that they all have in common is a belief in people, and they have a joy for life,” Bang said.
“They believe in the good, and there’s no victim mentality in them at all. They believe that they control their future.”
She said some of them have reconnected with their biological parents through open adoption agreements, but for the most part, Bang’s kids have moved on.
As for her, she said she always enjoys Mother’s Day because it’s a time for her to reflect on all the good that has come from her experience as a foster parent.
“I was shattered when I thought I couldn’t have kids, but the day that Kim arrived, I loved her and every kid like they were ours,” Bang said.
“I don’t regret not having my own kids because I would have maybe had one perfect little child, but in this case, I have 12. It’s amazing that you can love them as much as your own.”
See inaccurate information in a story? Other feedback and/or ideas for us to consider? Tell us here.
Location, ST | website.com
National Life Videos
- EDITORIAL: Kingston school board looks the other way ... again (1433)
- Catskill Mountain Railroad members barred from serving on Ulster County Railroad Advisory Committee (video) (611)
- Law & Disorder: May 18, 2013 (608)
- Kingston High School choir enjoys musical milestones (video) (569)
- Law & Disorder (May 17, 2013) (567)
- Ulster County grand jury indicts five (318)
- Metro-North train crash in Connecticut sends 60 to hospital (270)
- Group raps Hinchey over change of heart on Cantine Dam viewing (70)
- Dick Trickle, former NASCAR driver, dies at 71 (55)
- Kingston High School coaching volunteer charged with rape after alleged sexual contact with two teen girls (9)
- Catskill 3500 Club members hike region's highest peaks (video) (9)
- Injured turkey vulture rescued in Kingston is released after rehabilitation (video) (8)
- Rhinebeck Aerodrome ready to fly (video) (7)
Recent Activity on Facebook
Life Editor Ivan Lajara talks about living in the Hudson Valley, language, the Web, cats and even politics. But he shouldn't.
Official blog of Nancy Donskoj, Kingston Main Street Manager.
New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly's blog was started to promote her new book, published by Chronicle, and has evolved into writing and cartoons about anything.