The eight young children of Jon and Kate Gosselin never asked to become reality TV stars. But once Jon & Kate Plus Eight started airing in 2007, their fates were sealed. And, shortly afterwards, they seemed to become almost pawns in the high-profile divorce of their parents. So, ten years after the twins and sextuplets were first introduced to the world, how are they doing now?
It’s worth noting that the events that led up to the eight Gosselin children becoming TV personalities are also shrouded in controversy. In 2014, for example, an explosive tell-all book written by Robert Hoffman claimed that Kate Gosselin had purposely set out to have sextuplets and become famous in the process. Needless to say, Kate objected very strongly to this assertion and eventually got the book taken off the shelves.
But regardless of Kate’s motivations, she was successful in her endeavor. In 2004, four years after welcoming twins Cara and Mady, she gave birth to sextuplets Aaden, Collin, Joel, Alexis, Hannah and Leah. Not long afterwards, Kate signed up to the NBC reality show Home Delivery. She followed that up with two Discovery Health specials about her brood.
And as the specials were a big success, Discovery went on to sign the entire family up for a reality series: Jon & Kate Plus Eight. That ran for two seasons on the Discovery Health Channel and, after that, was aired on TLC. What’s more, it earned exceptional viewing figures during its time on the latter network.
The family viewers saw on Jon & Kate Plus Eight and diehard fans could read about in their book Multiple Blessings seemed to be a happy one. But all was not well behind the scenes. By 2009, in fact, things had started to completely fall apart. In June of that year, moreover, the Gosselin parents announced that they had started divorce proceedings.
And the decision to divorce hadn’t been a spur-of-the-moment one, as the pair had been estranged for quite a while. The producers of their show, however, had faked that everything was fine. In fact, they had presented Jon and Kate as a content and united couple when, in real life, they hadn’t even been living together.
Plus, when the truth had been revealed, Kate blamed Jon for their break-up. “He does not want to be married to me anymore,” she told People magazine in 2009. “No questions asked, he went and hired a lawyer and said you better get one.” She also added, ominously, “I know that my kids will come out of this, to a degree, with some sort of dysfunction. I’m not stupid.”
Furthermore, rumors spread that Jon had been cheating on Kate for some time with a woman named Hailey Glassman. She just happened to be the daughter of his wife’s plastic surgeon. And, apparently, that hadn’t been a one-off moment of infidelity. It was alleged that Jon had possibly even cheated again, at a drunken bash in Utah with a much younger schoolteacher – and on Kate’s birthday, no less.
In August 2009 the police were even called to the Gosselin house, as Jon and Kate had reportedly had an argument about the children’s babysitter. And, although it barely seemed possible, the drama intensified even more in the following months. In September 2009, for instance, Jon filed a legal action to try and kill the TLC show after it was renamed just Kate Plus Eight. A few weeks later, TLC countered with another lawsuit.
However, as the legal chaos dragged on, with Jon’s attorney claiming that his TLC contract was unenforceable, Jon and Kate’s divorce went through. Kate was granted primary custody of the eight children. But perhaps the most shocking revelations from the saga of the Gosselins’ break-up were yet to come.
Those came in 2010, when charges of child abuse were leveled against Kate from Jon and Kate’s own brother Kevin. Kevin testified before a court that the TV filming had caused psychological damage to his nieces and nephews. Jon, meanwhile, asserted that Kate locked their children in their bedrooms for hours, smacked them and fed them stale food. However, both Kate and TLC denied any allegations that abuse had gone on in the Gosselin home.
And regardless of the validity of those claims, the fact that the children’s parents seemed to flat-out loathe each other can’t have been helpful to the Gosselin brood. As time went by, though, things seemed to cool off a little bit, with Kate and Jon only sniping at each other on occasion. Still, that increasing accord may have ceased when Jon gave a revealing interview in 2013.
Appearing on Oprah: Where are They Now? that year, Jon made damning claims about the wellbeing of his children. “Developmentally, they have problems with their peers. They have problems with talking to other people, and they have problems with wants and needs and manners and morals and what’s right and what’s wrong,” he said.
Understandably, Kate was quick to deny her ex-husband’s claims. “I find it very heartbreaking that my children’s father chooses a public forum to discuss his current opinions of the ‘development’ of our children,” she wrote on her blog. “Each and every one of our children has met and continues to exceed all physical, mental and emotional developmental milestones throughout their lives.”
And in at least one respect, the two eldest Gosselin kids did seem to be progressing in a way familiar to many parents of teen girls. Specifically, in 2015 Kate spoke about how her two oldest children, Cara and Mady, were turning 15 and starting to become interested in boys. “I’ve heard the 15-year-old girl thing is scary… there are bursts of it, but they’re good girls,” Kate added during a Today show interview that year.
But it was clear that no matter how the children were doing, there was a huge rift in the Gosselin family that looked unlikely to be healed quickly. And Mady and Cara were starting to speak out for themselves as well. In 2016, for instance, the two of them made some revealing remarks to People. In particular, Mady said that they didn’t want to see their father and that he didn’t even know them well.
There were also apparently some problems regarding Collin, one of the sextuplets. US Weekly reported in November 2016 that he had been enrolled in a specialist program for “educational and behavioral challenges” and was even living away from home. Kate once again gave an interview where she denied any child abuse had ever taken place.
Come May 2017, though, and the sextuplets all turned 13. Kate celebrated the occasion by posting a picture of a tiny diaper on her Instagram. “I pulled put this extra small preemie diaper from the NICU,” she wrote. “I’ve kept it in my bedside table drawer… to always remind me of how far we’ve come!”
Kate had plenty of pictures on her Instagram, too, of her now-teenage kids. One of them was a side-by-side comparison of old and new photos of her children, highlighting how much they’d grown over the years. “I love you guys! I got six times what I planned on, but I’d NEVER EVER go back!” she wrote in the caption beside it.
But although Kate’s Instagram presents a loving family, it still remains unclear what the future holds for the Gosselin children. Indeed, as Kate Plus Eight is still airing and shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon, there’s a high chance they might grow all the way to adulthood on reality TV. Here’s hoping that, along the way, the kids’ relationship with their father can also be salvaged.