A MUM-OF-EIGHT told how she adopted SEVEN children – but is still trolled for ‘living off benefits’.
Heather Bell, 50, and her husband Luke, 48, had been trying to get pregnant for eight years when she decided to adopt her oldest son David, now 21.
She then went on to adopt Robert, 20, Joshua, 20, Hailey, 20, Brendon, 19, Izabella, 15, and Noah, 14.
In 2004 she gave birth to her son Gideon, 17.
The family fund their enormous brood by running a farm – but despite this are trolled and accused of ‘living off benefits’.
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“We didn't plan on having eight children but because of my infertility problems we really wanted to have a family so we looked into adoption,” she said, adding they lived in a four-bed home where the girls shared a room as did the younger two boys and the older four boys.
“I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 19 and was told that I might not be able to have my own children.
“For Christmas in 1999 our parents surprised us and paid for us to be able to adopt David.
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“At the time we were just trying to make ends meet and couldn't afford it.
“We chose to have open adoption because we felt that it was important for David and his family to still be a part of their lives.
“After adopting David we wanted to be a help to children and their families to help be a step to reuniting them back together.
“I remember praying before we started the foster care process that each child that came into our home would either go back with their birth parents or if that wasn't a possibility we could adopt them.
“Now 10 years later we have eight children.
“We also chose to let each of our children have a relationship with any family member that was stable and doing well.
Some of our kids see their birth parents and others see grandparents, siblings and uncles.”
She told how the family lived on a farm in The Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA, where they had 4000 chickens and sold eggs throughout the region.
“We also own a masonry company where our older boys work for us,” she explained.
“It takes all 10 of us to make our family work.
“It does cost a lot to have a big family and that's why we own a farm and masonry company.
“We utilise our resources and plant a big garden to can veggies and raise our own animals.
“We work very hard as a family but we also take time to play.
“We built a basketball court that turns into a hockey rink in the winter.
''We hike, swim, canoe and take vacations every year.
“We made a huge sledding hill for the winter and have snow mobiles to play in the sun.
''We get lots of snow each year.”
Heather says she feels like she was “meant to be a mother”.
“I knew in my heart,” she said.
“I just wanted to hug, kiss and love my sweet babies.”
She said meal-planning for such a huge brood was time-consuming.
“We go grocery shopping a couple times a week,” she said.
“I make a menu with the kids and plan out our meals for the week.
“My kids love to cook and usually at least two of them make a meal each week.
“My daughter Hailey is the brownie queen. My Izzy loves to make anything with chicken and potatoes. Gideon whips up the best chicken wings.
“Groceries costs can range from $500 to $700 a trip depending on what is going on, like holidays or birthdays.
We have to be very organised and we try to not buy many processed items and try to make treats homemade.
“We do like treats but it costs a lot to buy junk food all the time.”
The family wakes at 6am and the three youngest go to school before her husband and older boys head out to work for our masonry company.
“Hailey and I head over to the barn to wash eggs and organise the farm chores” she added.
“Twice a week we deliver eggs after washing. We also own beef cows and Clydesdale horses so those chores have to get done.
“After barn chores we head home to have coffee and clean the house and prep for meals.
“I usually will bake a treat for the kids after school and start dinner around 3pm.
“After house cleaning we head to the basement to workout.
''The kids get home by 3pm and do their afternoon barn chores then homework.
“They head out to play basketball or ride 4 wheelers, we are a very active family and don't spend much time inside.
“Dinner is served by 5.30pm and then after dinner we clean things up and visit until bed.
''I also do all the bills for our two businesses so I spend about two hours in my office once the kids head to bed.”
She said Christmas was extra special.
“My husband and I get up early and wash eggs before the kids wake up then after we come home and wake up the kids to check out their stockings then we open presents and take a break to eat a big breakfast and clean up.
“After we eat we finish presents and clean up and start dinner.
''Each of my kids gets seven presents, one big present and six smaller ones.
“I have a ‘Christmas notebook’ where I write down everything they get and what they asked for.
“I have to hide it so they can’t peek.
“I put our first tree up in October and started wrapping presents shortly after that.
“We do have people say we must live off the state because we are so successful, and we got attacked for having a multicultural home.
“We work very hard to have a successful family of 10, we try to be a help to those around us and to be kind to others.
“We have been blessed with great children.
''I'm so grateful for my kids and husband and the life we have created.”
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