OUR NEW NORMAL

Easier By The Dozen: Steven And Roger Ham On Raising 12 Children

In the lead-up to the premiere of NBC’s The New Normal on September 11 Queerty is launching a new series of features, Our New Normal, where we’ll introduce you to LGBT families of all different stripes—same-sex couples raising kids, straight parents raising gay kids, close-knit LGBT communities who view each other as family.

And we want to meet your family, too: Share your story—whether you’re related by blood or linked by love—by uploading photos, videos or notes on our special Our New Normal platform. You could win a family vacation—not to mention bragging rights!

 

 

 

Steven and Roger Ham
Phoenix, AZ

Though they’re a same-sex couple raising a dozen kids, Steven and Roger Ham don’t see themselves as “gay” parents.

“We just happen to be two men who are raising 12 children,” says Steve during a rare quiet moment. “Our lives are pretty normal. It’s kind of all we’ve known for the last ten years. I wouldn’t say it’s anything unique or anything special.”

For Steven and Roger—who have helped rear more than 40 foster children over the last decade—parenting comes somewhat naturally. After all, their days are too packed to allow for much chaos:

The guys wake up at 5am, getting a full 15-minute head-start on their brood. (By September, Arizona schools have already been in session for more than two weeks.)

Before the first bus comes at 6:10, showers must be taken, outfits must be selected and breakfasts must be eaten. Once the young ones are on their way, Steven and Roger finally head to work.

At the end of the day, Steven picks up the kids from school, gets everyone fed dinner and then shuttles the kids to a myriad of extracurriculars–ballet, football, swimming, basketball, gymnastics, soccer, dance – before the Ham household finally settles down at about 9pm.

Parenting may come easy to the Hams, but becoming parents was a long and difficult journey: It was never their intention to adopt so when Roger and Steven moved to Arizona, where both marriage equality and gay adoption are banned—the couple was unprepared for the legal roadblocks ahead.

Showcasing the kind of can-do resilience they’d later need to raise 12 children, Steven and Roger soldiered on. Working through the foster-care system was the first step—ironically the state of Arizona went from not allowing them one child to asking them to care for dozens. Some were only temporarily visitors, others became permanent members of the family.

Were he and Roger to have “a ranch somewhere,” they’d have even more kids, Steven says with perhaps a hint of hesitation. But 12 is more than enough for now. After all, twelve kids means twelve mouths to feed, twelve backs to clothe and twelve college tuitions to pay for.

But, he counters, you can’t put a price tag on making a positive difference in 12 children’s lives. As he runs off to pick up the kids from school, Steven says, “I just know that parenting was what I was meant to do.” Then it’s back to family life—in all its everyday, beautiful normalcy.

Share your family’s story—whether you’re related by blood or linked by love—by uploading photos, videos or notes on our special Our New Normal platform. The best submission wins a family vacation, but the deadline to submit is September 12 at 1:59am—so don’t delay!

 
Photos: Steven Ham, Michael Chow/Arizona Republic