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Arizona Gay Couple Gets Formal Recognition for 12 Adopted Kids
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They had made it to the Esquire magazine’s list of the 10 best dads of 2012. Steven and Roger Ham, a gay couple in Arizona, had been raising 12 children adopted from foster care. To look after them properly, Steven spent six years at home, and went back to work full-time only after the youngest child, Olivia, reached three years of age and became ready to go to preschool.

In Arizona it was tough. The couple had been together for almost 19 years, but in Arizona the two men cannot marry. They had been adopting children from foster care and raising them. However, Arizona recognized only a single parent, Steven, for the children, because it did not allow gay marriage. The result was the children were not entitled to health and Social Security benefits, inheritance rights, or child support, from the other member of the couple. However, two children, who had been adopted in Washington had the names of both parents on their certificates, and were protected from such inequities.

Shelly Krebs, an attorney in Vancouver, Wash., made an offer to the gay couple, after handling the adoptions of the two children Isabel and Logan. She said she would handle the adoptions of the rest 10 children for the cost of one adoption. When reached by the media, Krebs said, “As a businessperson, it’s a little more paperwork, and it’s a little more time for me … The world is not always about time and money.” Krebs held it was nothing outstanding and said, “I basically made happen what could happen under the law.”

  
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To facilitate the process, and for allowing the children to identify with both parents, Roger officially changed his surname to Ham in 2007. As they had no alternative in Arizona, the gay couple also drew up legal papers to transfer guardianship from one to the other if either died.

Things truly changed for them on July 13.

On that day, Steven, who is the director of customer service and events at Activator Methods, told his co-workers he would be a little late to a meeting. At home, Rogers gather the children around the table, put his cellphone on speaker and placed it on top of a huge bowl of fruits.

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Then, as Steven recalls, “The judge came on the line and said, ‘I’m real excited to be doing this.’” Each child provided self-identification over the phone to Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard. Within twenty minutes, the couple won the rights that Arizona denied them.

This year’s Esquire Magazine gave two spots among 10 fathers to Steven and Roger “who showed us how it’s done” in an issue dedicated to fatherhood.





 

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