A Texas woman who found out she was adopted thought she was all alone in the world, until she found out she had 13 siblings.
“I assumed I was an only child. It never crossed my mind that I had siblings, let alone 13,” Shaquanna Bell of Houston told InsideEdition.com. “Plus, they had been looking for me.”
The 33-year-old explained that she found out in middle school that she was adopted.
“My initial reaction was shock,” Bell said. “I happened to look like my adopted family so it never crossed my mind I may have been adopted.”
She said it took her many years to process her anger and hurt toward her biological family, but ultimately just felt grateful to her adopted family for loving her and her eight adopted siblings.
When she went to renew her license recently, she said she began getting curious again as to who her birth family was and asked her niece to dig around on social media to see if she can track them down.
To her astonishment, she was one of 13 siblings.
“I was shocked, overwhelmed, nervous and scared,” Bell recalled.
Bell soon found out she was the 10th of the 13 siblings.
Janell Haines, 51, the oldest of the 13 siblings, told InsideEdition.com finding Bell was a long time coming.
Haines explained that she and four of the siblings grew up alongside their birth mother in Massachusetts, where they still live. The rest of them were sent to live with foster families around the country or adopted at a young age.
Twenty years ago, their sister Loretta Grant, who is the seventh sibling, met the second sibling Equilla Haines by chance and asked if she was her mother since they had the same last name.
“Equilla asked why would she ask that question and Loretta introduced herself,” Haines said. “Equilla asked to see her right foot because as a girl, Loretta sustained a third-degree burn on her foot. Loretta then removed her sock and there it was, the burn on her foot.”
Loretta, who was separated from the family when she was 13, said she was in contact with their eighth sibling Tawana Grant and the ninth Quantavia Grant.
In 2004, they were reunited with the fifth sibling Eboni Cooke-Zeba and the sixth, Alisha Cooke. In 2007, Keith Tabb, the third sibling and Sha-Ron Tabb came into the picture. In 2015, the 11th-born sibling Crystal Bailey met the whole family.
Their mom, who has battled drug addiction her whole life, died of cervical cancer before she was able to reunite with many of her children.
“Loretta was 18 years old at that time and couldn’t bring herself to go in the room where our mother lay bedridden in the last stages of cervical cancer,” Haines recalled.
Bell explained it has been an overwhelming process getting to know all of them, but they have kept in touch every single day since she found them.
“We all have high cheek bones, are under 5-foot-6, huge smiles and love to joke,” she said. “I’m slowly learning about my siblings as a group as well as individually.”
The family now hopes to reunite all together for the first time since they have all found each other.
“Now all 14 pieces are all alive and well, we long to get together for the first time,” Haines said.
To support their reunion, visit their GoFundMe page.