With 18 kids and counting, this Tennessee family is ready to dethrone the Duggars as the biggest family in America.
Everyone’s heard of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the Arkansas-based reality TV stars who have 19 children (nine girls and 10 boys) whose names all begin with the letter J. Well, look out, Duggars, because another family is gaining on you in size! Devout Christians Gil and Kelly Bates, who live in the hills of East Tennessee, have 18 kids and counting — and they aren’t stopping procreating any time soon. In an interview with The Daily Mail, the Bates, who celebrated the birth of their 18th child last month, revealed that they are already praying for more.
“Having a lot of children wasn’t something we decided to do in order to be popular; it wasn’t very popular when we were making those choices,” the couple says on their website. “It wasn’t something we did for financial gain; it really wasn’t cheaper by the dozen. We simply trusted that if God said children are a blessing, He meant exactly that. And not wanting to miss out on any blessings, our quiver began to fill.”
Gil, 45, a tree surgeon and Kelly, 43, a stay-at-home mom (shocker!) met in college in 1986, married in 1987 and have been pregnant almost every year since. Today, their brood includes Zach, 21, Michaela, 20, Erin, 18, Lawson, 17, Nathan, 16, Alyssa, 15, Tori, 14, Trace, 13, Carlin, 12, Josie, 11, Katie, 10, Jackson, 8, Warden, 7, Isaiah, 5, Addallee, 4, Ellie, 3, Callie-Anna, 1, and Judson Wyatt, 1 month.
“At first, we thought we might be crazy!” they continue. “We were told that having a house full of children would result in a ruined marriage, a frazzled and worn mom, a frustrated dad, and unhappy children. On the contrary, the children keep us feeling young and the responsibilities have driven us to more committed and meaningful relationships. We were told having a large family would send us to the poor house. We realize that having food, clothes, and living in America — no matter what our tax bracket might be — already makes us richer than most who live in the world.”
The Bates are already planning an expansion of their home, which already features five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, two kitchens (one with a 14-foot dining room table), four washing machines and two industrial dryers.