Steven and Roger Ham are raising 12 children in Arizona, a state that bans gay and lesbian couples from adoption and marriage.

The Hams, known as daddy and papa to their adoptive children, were profiled in Sunday's The Arizona Republic.

The men met in 1993 in Reno and fell in love on their first date. But it would be 8 years before they decided to adopt what was supposed to be their only child, Michael.

But Michael continually worried about his four younger siblings, who still were in foster care, so the men rounded up Elizabeth, Andrew and the twins, Jackson and Madison.

“It was very heart-wrenching to see this little 5-year-old with these big adult concerns,” said Steven. “He should have been playing with his Legos.”

“It broke our hearts,” Roger added.

Ten of the children are adopted in Arizona, and legally belong only to Steven, because the state does not allow gay couples to adopt or a gay spouse to adopt a partner's child. The dads are considered full parents in two adoptions from Washington state.

“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,” the paper wrote. “If a gay couple splits up, only the legal parent has custody rights.”

The couple has taken in 42 foster children over 10 years; some moved on, some stayed.

“We knew the kids deserved a better life, and someone who would love them, no matter what,” Steven said. “None of my kids will ever tell you, anytime in their lives, even years from now, that they didn't feel loved.”