A gay couple from the US state of Arizona have revealed they are adoptive parents to 12 children.
Steven and Roger Ham cannot legally adopt in the state as a couple, nor can they marry. But they have given a dozen children the chance of a ‘forever family’.
The story began in 2003, after the couple decided they wanted to become parents. They adopted five-year-old Michael, who had been neglected. Shortly afterwards, they won their battle to adopt his four siblings.
In the following years, they fostered dozens of children and eventually adopted another seven.
They completed their family in March 2009 when Steven flew to Washington to meet four-year-old Logan. After discovering that he had an 11-year-old sister, Isabel, Steven told their caseworker that he would take both of them to avoid splitting them up.
At the same time, Roger received a call from a caseworker telling him that the biological mother of one of their children had given birth again and asked if they would take the baby girl. At 12 children, they decided to close their fostering and adoption licence.
The couple are both listed on the birth certificates of their two children from Washington, while only Steven is the legal parent of the ten adopted in Arizona.
Steven, a part-time care worker and temp, and Roger, a school-bus driver, told the Arizona Republic about the military precision needed to get the kids fed, washed, dressed, to school and to various activities ever day.
They have a 15-seater van and as well as 12 children, look after four dogs, two cats, a guinea pig and a parrot.
The family lives in a 3,000-sq ft house and has strict rules, such as grounding for bad grades, good spelling in text messages and tidying everything away.
However, the couple say they are happy to let their children be themselves, allowing their sons to join cheerleading squads or wear nail polish.
The children range in age from Olivia, almost two, to 16-year-old Vanessa.
Steven, who takes on the brunt of the childcare through the day, said: “Sure, there are days when I am ripping my hair out, but I wouldn’t change it for anything,.
“We knew the kids deserved a better life, and someone who would love them, no matter what. None of my kids will ever tell you, anytime in their lives, even years from now, that they didn’t feel loved.”
Read more and see pictures of the Ham family