The Best of Humanity Is All Around Us
The Bells are not your average social media influencers. They are a family of 10 with seven adopted children. Heather Bell is the matriarch and keeps everything running with her husband, Luke, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If you're looking for these Yoopers, their handle is @justthebells10, and they're not hard to find.
They have 2.7 million followers on TikTok, 774,000 on Facebook, 590,000 on Instagram and 181,000 on YouTube. There's a reason why they are so popular.
Like all of us, the Bells are just trying to make it in this crazy world. They love to cook big meals and share recipes that are easy and fast to make.
They talk about adoption and their foster journey, how their family was brought together by adoption through foster care and private adoption. They didn't plan on having eight children, but they are thankful for each one — David, Robert, Joshua, Hailey, Brendon, Gideon, Izzy and Noah.
Some of the children they have adopted are older. Others are teenagers. They even have developed relationships with the birth families of their children and invite them to family gatherings.
The Bells admit they have taken an unconventional path. "Everyone wants a baby [and] an instant family ... and that's not what foster care [or adoption] is about," Heather Bell told FamilyMinded in a story about their family.
"When [kids] are older, you have to work with them differently," Heather explains. "Each child ... has different needs. My older kids really needed us more. They're dealing with becoming adults and they're teenagers. It's different, and it can be challenging. But if you respect the children and let them have a voice, [things will turn out all right]."
Respect the children and let them have a voice. That's the key to alleviating a lot of conflicts and solving a lot of problems.
'This Is What Love Is All About'
Some young people today are not getting the respect they should. Their voices are not being heard. This lack of respect can lead to a cycle of disrespect. Young people get a pessimistic view of the world. They expect negative outcomes and see many problems as unsolvable. Social media doesn't always help.
"We’re in the middle of a youth mental health crisis, and I’m concerned that social media is contributing to the harm that kids are experiencing," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN in late May.
While the surgeon general sounds the alarm that social media presents "a profound risk of harm" for youth, the Bells are flipping the script and spreading joy to the world with their kids. It's refreshing to see, and it's inspiring a lot of people. Here's a small sampling of comments about the Bells from their fans.
They are amazing.
I love your story so much! Your family is such an inspiration to me and your willingness to adopt teenagers reveals what an authentically compassionate couple you are.
You guys are amazing. Been fans since day one. I wish I felt this kinda love from my own family/parents so whenever I feel sad I come here and watch your videos and it makes me so happy.
Many of us enjoy this sweet family due to what we missed. They are the sweetest, fun and all around good folks.
We love you guys! Thanks for making good wholesome content.
Y’all are just so awesome. I can see and feel the love you have for one another.
This is what LOVE is all about!
Superlatives get thrown too easily nowadays. As do dire predictions. There is trouble in the world, but the sky is not falling. When it feels like it is, we can replace "I" with "we." If what people are carrying is too heavy, we can help them carry it.
There are great people around us every day. They should be spotlighted rather than some of the junk we get fed daily. We don't have to fall into the trap of negativity. All it takes is caring and sharing inspirational moments like the ones the Bells give us.
The Bells are the real deal. They are not the only real ones, either.
If you're having a bad day, check out Judge Lynn Toler, aka @realjudgelynn. You remember, Judge Lynn, don't you? She presided over "Divorce Court" for 14 seasons. Now she is #joytrolling on Instagram and doling out wisdom.
"I used to judge people for a living now I don’t judge for peace of mind."
Nothing changes if nothing changes. At the same time, everything can change in an instant. One moment can change a day. One day can change a life. One life can change the world.
The best of humanity is all around us. We just have to choose to see it.
This story was originally published by Southwest Connector, a local newspaper in Minneapolis.