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Family of 20 Prays for More Kids

The Bateses of Tennessee are one big happy family, and we do mean big. Gil and Kelly Bates, the subject of a recent ABC Nightline special, have 18 children ranging in age from 11 months to 22 years. And they’re considering having more.

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Evangelical Christians, Gil and Kelly don’t believe in birth control, feeling it’s not their place to prevent a pregnancy if God sees fit to bless them with one. This means Kelly, a stay-at-home mom, has been pregnant every year for the last 22 years. Though five-year-old Addallee was born with some complications, the other births were healthy. The couple hasn’t had a single set of twins and Kelly delivered each of her 18 children vaginally, 14 of them at home. Um, whoa.

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Now 44, Kelly has recently had a hard time carrying a pregnancy to term. Before her last two successful pregnancies, she had two miscarriages due to low progesterone levels. She started hormone therapy to help her carry the two youngest children to term. The couple doesn’t want to interfere with a pregnancy, but they do want to give a baby all the medical help he needs, even before coming into the world, despite the fact that the couple and their children don’t have health insurance (although prenatal care is provided at no charge at a small Christian clinic).

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The younger children are dying with more little sibs to play with, asking if they can pray for them. And while the kids are most invested in Kelly getting pregnant again, mom and dad aren’t completely opposed to the idea, either. They’ve even granted the children permission to fast and pray after they’d begged enough.

Is there such a thing as “too big” of a family? How did you know you were done having kids?

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