UP family spreads adoption and foster care awareness one TikTok at a time

Michigan

SKANDIA, Mich (WJMN) — With over half a million TikTok followers, 11.2 million views and more than 800 videos, one Upper Peninsula family is getting a lot of attention online.

Meet the Bell family.

“So David the oldest and he is 21,” mom Heather Bell of Skandia said. “And then Robert is 20. And then after Robert is Joshua and he is 19. OK, so next is Joshua and he is 20. And then Hailey is 19 wishes she was 20. And then next would be Brendon is 18, then Gideon is 17. Izabella is 15. And then Noah is 13.”

That brings the family’s grand total to 10. Parents Heather and Luke Bell say that they thrive off of the noise and chaos that their eight children bring.

But their house wasn’t always this full. The Bells tried for years to have children. With Heather Bell insistent on being a mom, the couple looked to adoption with their first son David. After a successful adoption and having friends who were foster parents, the Bells decided to open their home up as well.

“We adopted first and then we got into foster care,” Luke Bell said. “It is very expensive to adopt through private agencies. So then we were like, Heather said there was families that were helping children out through foster care. And then we were introduced to foster care, got our foster license. And it probably took a couple of years, or actually, once we got our foster license, it was very fast. Kids started coming in. We helped lots of kids.”

After David was added, the Bell family quickly grew from a party of three to a party of 10.

“So we adopted Joshua and his adoption was final July 2,” Heather Bell said. “And then July 3, we found out we were pregnant with Gideon. It was quite the weekend. And then we still had kids coming in and out when I was pregnant with Gideon. And then we had Gideon, we moved into this house because we needed a bigger house because we were in kind of a tiny house and needed more room. Then Izabella came in a year after that. And then it was Hailey was two years after that then Noah, it was a year after that, and then the boys were the next year. So just like the last five years.”

The Bells’ story doesn’t stop there. With spare time on her hands due to the pandemic and the drive after Gideon said she would never be TikTok famous, Heather Bell posted a TikTok of Joshua sharing his story and showing off some of his signature dance moves. The video went viral.

“My mom liked it really much because a bunch of people were saying, ‘Oh, I love your dance moves!'” Joshua Bell said.

“And everyone kept saying, ‘We love Josh, can we please see more Josh,'” Heather Bell said

She began sharing stories of her other kids and giving the viewers a glimpse into their everyday lives.

“And then I was like getting messages from people all over the world,” Heather Bell said. “Like ‘We love Josh, oh my goodness.’ And people love my kids. Then I had people asking do I have more kids, so I posted another video about all of the kids’ stories. It wasn’t their personal stories, it was just about when they came in and what did they bring to the family — like Brendon is so funny and makes us laugh. So I just picked a characteristic of the kids and I got even more people asking, ‘How do you adopt?’ and ‘Tell me about foster’ and so like that went viral.”

She said one of the biggest blessings the app has given her is the ability to share her family’s stories and spread awareness for foster care and adoption.

“I just want to help people,” Heather Bell said. “I want to use our family’s story as an inspiration just to make people more aware. I don’t think people are aware that there are tons of children looking for homes, whether through foster care or just adoption, so I just want people out there to be aware that there are people out there that want to help. …The world is so crazy right now so I just want to bring a smile to people just so they know that there is still good.”

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