The Radford and Sullivan families are among the most prominent families in Great Britain.
The Radfords are officially the largest family in the country, 44-year-old Sue and her husband, Noel, are the parents of 22 children, and even now they are grandparents, as their oldest children have already had children of their own. Sue gave birth to her first child, Christ, at the age of 14, and then, as soon as they reached the official medical limit, she and her husband married, and from then on Sue was pregnant practically every year.
For Sue and Noel, the blessing of children has still not lost its charm, they are equally happy with each new offspring, and not only them, but also the children. The large family is extremely close-knit, they usually go to ultrasound examinations together and also sit together at home to listen to the babies’ heartbeats in Sue’s ᴡᴏᴍʙ, because the mother wants the siblings to bond very early.
Sue and Noel are both adopted children, their own parents gave up on them for some reason, and they think that this may be the reason why they started such a large family.
“The good thing about living in such a big family is that you always have someone by your side. I think what we like about it is that you always have company. There is always someone by your side, there is always someone by the children’s side. I don’t think they’ll ever be lonely,” says Sue.
At the same time, having a large family is a big responsibility and a lot of work. Noel works 80 hours a week in a bakery, and Sue helps him, even though there is hardly a time when she is not pregnant. In the Radford family, even everyday things like the morning routine or a family dinner are a challenge, since in such a large household there is always someone who doesn’t want to get up or can’t find their shoes, and there are many hungry mouths to feed.
In such circumstances, the question may arise: when do they stop having children? This question is all the more relevant as Sue is now at an age when childbearing is increasingly risky for both the fetus and the mother. Many accuse Sue of not being a motherly instinct but more of a kind of ᴀᴅᴅɪᴄᴛɪᴏɴ, and even Sue’s own children joke that for their mother it’s like a “ᴅʀᴜɢ with its own entrance”. At the same time, Sue is also really obsessed with prams, and the family always goes shopping for a new pram together when they are expecting a new family member.
Like the Radfords, the Sullivan family is constantly adding new members. Tania and Mike are raising 13 children, including a pair of twins. When they met, Tania already had two children, and then the family continued to grow. However, in the large family, everything did not turn out exactly like a dream. Tania also had 8 ᴍɪsᴄᴀʀʀɪᴀɢᴇs, from which she never fully recovered, but despite this, they never thought they should stop. As Christians, they believe that every child is a true blessing, and they want to bring as many children into the world as they can. Tania already knew when she was a little girl that she wanted a big family, and as an adult she realized this dream.
Everyday life in the Sullivan family is a little different from that of the Radfords, as Tania teaches her children at home. Although she has no teaching qualifications and dropped out of university when she became pregnant with her first child, she decided to take her children out of the public education system and instead teach them herself.
“I like to know what they do and what influences them. I don’t need to be a teacher. I am a parent and I am as good a teacher as any. Teachers will never care as much about their education as I do,” says Tania, who is convinced that she can give her children a proper education.
The Radfords and Sullivans are not the most ordinary families with their ever-expanding households, and maybe there really is some truth in the fact that these two women are addicted to having children, but they seem to be happy this way and wouldn’t give their large families for anything in the world.
“I would never want my children to feel unloved, unloved, or uncared for. I think we like to feel like we’re never alone, and that’s what we like about being so many. We will never be lonely,” says Sue.