Couple with 18 children reveal they're now praying for more... despite having no health insurance
Kelly Bates has had 18 children. She has had no twins, no C-sections and 14 drug-free births and has spent more of her adult life pregnant than not. But, even with the unimaginable logistics of raising a family that could field two sports teams, the 44-year-old mother from Lake City, Tennessee, is praying for two more baby boys. Kelly told ABC News' Nightline: 'It feels more normal to me to be pregnant than not be pregnant. I'm happy holding a baby.'
Family affair: All 20 of the Bates family live under one (large) roof in Lake city, Tennessee
The roll call so far stands at: Zach, 22, Michaella, 21, Erin, 20, Lawson, 19, Nathan, 18, Alyssa, 16, Tori, 15, Trace, 14, Carlin, 13, Josie, 12, Katie, 10, Jackson, nine, Warden, eight, Isaiah, six, Addallee, five, Ellie, four, Callie, two, and, last but not least, Judson, who is just 11-months-old.
The Bates are on track to hit to their good friends - reality TV show stars, the Duggers' - tally of 19 children. The two families see each other regularly - their combined total of 37 children making for busy holidays together.
Parental control: The couple told Nightline that they are paying for more babies to add to their family of 20. It was never the Bates' intention to produce a family that, according to 2010 Census data, is over seven times larger than the average Tennessee household size, they say.
But Gil and Kelly are evangelical Christians who do not believe in using birth control, instead putting their lives - and their home size - into the hands of God. According to the programme, which airs tonight, Gil and Kelly Bates are intent on seeking medical care to help them even the score to 10 girls and 10 boys. 'We both came to the conclusion that we just want to trust God with how many children we have. We never really thought we'd have 18. We thought we'd have maybe one or two - maybe three,' says Gil.The path to having such a large family has not been entirely without intervention, however. Two miscarriages before the births of her last two children made Kelly opt for hormone therapy to strengthen her uterus wall and the mother has just suffered another miscarriage.
The family that sings together: With no TV, no internet and no texting, the family relaxes by playing music together and often perfoms. Kelly and Gill stand together on the far left
The couple see no contradiction in wanting medical help to add to their already enormous family, but not to limit its size. 'We just want to trust God,' said Kelly. 'But at the same time, if there's already a life living, we don't want to deny medical help to a baby that's in trouble. 'Gil says the children wanted more young sibling so much that they have been praying. 'Some of them said, 'Can we fast if the Lord would give us more children?' 'They fasted and prayed.' And, despite wanting more children, the Bates do not have health insurance for their last ten children.
'When there's a medical emergency, we just go to the doctor and America'sbeen the greatest health care in the world,' said Gil. 'When you walk in the emergency room, I don't care what your status of living, they give you the best care possible. ' A Christian clinic looks after pre-natal care, while 'negotiations' with insurance companies has helped in medical emergencies - such as birth complications with Addallee - in the past, said Gil. And, in spite of health issues and potential medical bills, Kelly and the family continue to pray for more babies.
Another day, another meal: All of the children have different chores in a finely balanced system of 'organised chaos'