Two Dads and a Dozen Children
The Ham Family of Phoenix, Arizona
By Angeline Acain
Note: In 2010 Gay Parent Magazine was the first media outlet to publish an article on the Ham family. The following is an excerpt from that article.
When I received an email from Steve Ham, I could not pass up his offer. He and his partner Roger was in the process of adopting their twelfth child and he asked would Gay Parent magazine (GPM) like to feature them? Since this is the end of GPM’s 12th year of publishing and November is National Adoption month I thought featuring the Ham family in this issue more than appropriate. Steve suggested I also include in this article the worker who helped place their children, Heather Shew-Plummer.
Says Heather enthusiastically, “I love them! They came to my agency only wanting one child and ended up with twelve. I was with AASK-AZ as the Adoption and Foster Care Supervisor for about 10 years. Steve and Roger was one of my very first families. I wrote their home study and placed all twelve children in their home. I am now with Building Arizona Families as the Domestic Program Coordinator. Steve and Roger were on my caseload at AASK and I was responsible for all aspects of the placement. I facilitated the post placement visits, assisted in any resources and services for the family and attended all meetings in regards to the children placed in their home.” She continues, “They are amazing parents and have never been afraid to fight for their children. They are huge advocates and have always been a united front. I was never worried about placing more children in their home; they have an amazing system and routine. I have a strong connection to them and truly love them as parents and all their children! I never realized what a gift they had for parenting until they completed the adoption of their first son’s five siblings. They have enough room in their hearts for every child and they push their children to be the best. I will remain a part of their family forever. We talk frequently and see each other as often as we can. I know that when their children start graduating high school and college I will be right there along side Steve and Roger cheering very loudly!”
In the following interview Steve gives us a glimpse of this incredible family.
Gay Parent magazine: How long have you and Roger been together? At what point in your relationship did you discuss raising children?
Steve Ham: Roger and I have been together for 18 years. We started discussing children after being together about 6 years.
GPM: When you first met, did you both want to have a lot of children?
SH: No, although Roger was already co-parenting a child when we first met, the thought of raising children had not crossed my mind.
GPM: Have you seen the movie Cheaper by the Dozen?
SH: Yes, several times, Ha-ha.
GPM: Please tell me about your adoption process.
SH: We were required to take thirty-two hours of classes and a CPR/First Aid class. We were also subject to a background check.
GPM: Who was adopted first, second, third, etc.?
SH: In the beginning I wanted to adopt just one child. My ideal child was a 3-year-old half African American half Caucasian female. However we where matched with a 5-year-old Hispanic boy named Michael. After meeting Michael we found out he had five siblings and that they were going to be split up and adopted out separately. Michael’s siblings were Elizabeth, Andrew, Jackson, Madison and Vanessa. After Roger and I adopted the six siblings, I really wanted to adopt a baby. Our adoption agency told us that the only way we would ever get a baby is if we did foster care with the intent of adopting, this process is known as fost/adopt. So we put our names on the list and a few days later we were given a baby boy right from the hospital. We were told from the beginning that this child would never be returned to his biological mother and we would be able to adopt him. Much to our surprise he was returned to his biological mother after we cared for Marcus for five and a half months. But three days later we received a phone call about Marcus asking if we would be willing to take him.
Unknown to us our names were still on the list. Five months later while the kids and I are outside hanging up Halloween decorations we receive a call about Ambrose, and here we are three years later. While in the process of adopting Marcus and Ambrose, I was asked to foster a baby boy. His name was Cooper. After Cooper was adopted Roger and I felt so lucky that we had nine children with little or no special needs, so we decided to look into adopting a more hard to place child. We were matched with 4-year-old Logan. When we heard Logan was being separated from his sister Isabel, Roger and I said we would take both Isabel and Logan or neither. While in the midst of adopting Logan and Isabel, Cooper’s mother had another baby and abandoned her. We were called and asked if we would take her. So we adopted Olivia.
GPM: Did you adopt domestically from Arizona?
SH: Yes, we adopted all the children from Arizona except for Isabel and Logan. They where adopted from Washington state which allows same sex adoptions – Roger and I are both named on their birth certificates as their parents.
GPM: Did you experience any discrimination from agency workers?
SH: Once when we were fighting to keep the six siblings together we had to sit in front of a panel and were asked a series of questions concerning the twins, Madison and Jackson. We were asked questions like, “Being that you are two men, how would you change Madison’s diaper?” “What if Madison asks why she doesn't have a mother?” The questions went on and got worse. I know that a straight couple or single male or female would never been asked these sort of questions.
Learn about their children and what a day is like in their household by reading the entire article. Order a digital download at this link http://www.gayparentmag.com/november-december-2010-issue-73-download.