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Party of 12
Father's Day special for educator with 10 kids
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Steve Miller's big band may be rocking the house this Father's Day.
The 38-year-old Miller is dad to 10 children, half of them adopted and with special needs ranging from spina bifida and cerebral palsy to fetal alcohol syndrome and blindness.
To top it off, Miller is the only grown man in a house with seven women, including wife Tammy.
But it's the small triumphs, like watching 4-year-old Teagan Miller traverse the swimming pool without water wings, that keep him going.
His philosophy: It's good to be king.
"Honestly, it's awesome," said Miller, the new principal at Otwell Middle School. "From the little one's perspective, I'm like the king. I can do no wrong."
Their oldest daughters are entering middle school, but Miller's already set a high bar for anyone that wants to marry them.
"(Forty years from now) I would want them to know that the best job I have in life is to be as good a father as I possibly can be," he said. "That is the ultimate job.
"I hope they can look back and see me as someone they would want their husbands to emulate. That's my goal."
He has devised a way to see this plan through.
"When it gets to the point when they're supposed to be on a first date, I can take them out," Miller said.
He plans to hold all the doors, pull out all the chairs, all the stops, really, so they can have a basis for comparison. That way, he said, they'll know how to expect to be treated.
As for the official holiday honoring dads everywhere, Miller anticipates a gourmet feast about 7 a.m.
"They usually make me stay in bed and they usually bring me breakfast in bed, which consists of toast, a bowl of Fruit Loops and coffee," Miller said.
The educator, who comes to the local school system after stints in Buford and Gainesville, seems to thrive on the album of mental snapshots the children create.
"Honestly, the best gift I can get is having a beautiful day and staying at home with them and watching them have fun," he said.
"It's about a memory, not a gift. It's about staying home with them and watching them enjoy each other."
Paternal instincts run deep in Miller's gene pool.
"My mom passed away when I was 12 and my dad, who took on both roles, always made it a point to be there for me no matter what, whether it was cooking dinner or taking me to soccer games," he said.
From ages 12 to 18, he said, Edwin Miller raised him after his mother, Florence, died of breast cancer.
Tammy Miller's parents, Jeff and Patricia Wood, also set a high bar.
She grew up with five sisters adopted from as far away as Asia and Guatemala. In all, there were nine girls in the Wood household. That's partially where Tammy Miller gets her heart for adoption.
"Many people don't realize how many kids are in the foster system," she said.
Miller taught at a school for the blind in New York before coming to Georgia with her husband.
"We always knew we were going to adopt, and it's just evolved into this," she said.
That's not all; they may adopt again.
"We're definitely open to it," she said. "If it's meant to be, God will lead us down the right path."
With 10 children, it begs the question, especially on Father's Day: What is it like being responsible for so many lives?
"It's thrilling and overwhelming at the same time," Steve Miller said. "We get to shape and instill our core beliefs of integrity and character into each of their minds."
The couple's oldest son, Patrick, already reflects his parents' qualities. The 15-year-old beamed when his mother remarked that he's a good leader for youngest son Aidan, who also has spina bifida.
"I like it," he said of the family's bustling household in eastern Forsyth County. "I have a lot of brothers and sisters to have fun with."