The two dads, twelve children, family? It’s happening in Arizona.
Last month I wrote about a proposed new law in California that would make it legal for children to have three parents. With the definition of “family” expanding to include same-sex parents and kids, grandparents raising kids, three or four adults raising children, and stepparents raising two sets of children, to name just a few, this makes perfect sense.
Steve and Roger Ham, partners for over 19 years, have been raising 12 kids together in a state that doesn’t allow same-sex couples to marry or adopt, and where conservative lawmakers have tried a half-dozen times to keep single people, including gays and lesbians, from adopting foster children.
The two men took in the first member of their brood in 2003, a boy named Michael. But then it turned out the youngster had five siblings, all living in different foster homes, so they decided to adopt his siblings too.
Since then, 42 foster children have passed through the Hams’ door, with the couple eventually adopting an even dozen. In 2007, Roger changed his last name to Ham so that everyone would have the same last name and to avoid any confusion during pick-up from school or the doctor’s office.
But here’s the problem: Steven adopted 10 of the children in Arizona, but since the state prohibits same-sex adoption as well as the adoption of one same-sex partner’s child by another, Roger could not legally be their father. Two of the kids were adopted in Washington, where same-sex adoption is legal and therefore both Steven and Roger’s names appeared on the birth certificates.
With only one legal parent, children in gay households are not entitled to health and Social Security benefits, inheritance rights or child support from the other parent. That seemed all wrong to the Hams, who both wanted to have legal custody of their children.
Their dream came true last month.
Shelly Kreb, the lawyer who helped them adopt in Washington, offered to facilitate the re-adoption of their 10 other kids for the price of one — $1,500. On July 13, Judge Diane Woolard called to inform them that from now on both Steven’s and Roger’s names would appear on each of their children’s birth certificates.
At 2 p.m. July 13, Steven said, he told his co-workers at Activator Methods, where he is director of customer service and events, that he’d be a few minutes late to a meeting. Then he closed the door to his office.
At home, Roger says, he gathered the children around the dining-room table, put his cellphone on speaker mode and placed it on top of the huge bowl of apples, oranges and bananas. He gave the kids watermelon slices to keep them still and quiet.
“The judge came on the line and said, ‘I’m real excited to be doing this,’ ” Steven recalls.
One by one, each child, leaning toward the phone, identified him- or herself to Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard. It was over in minutes.
Steven bolted to his meeting 20 minutes late, grinning, and his co-workers stood and applauded.
I don’t know about you, but this story bring tears to my eyes.
As Steven Ham says in the Youtube video below:
“All of our kids have two parents that love them, and most of their friends don’t.” And isn’t that what raising children is all about?
Photo Credit: screenshot from Youtube video