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Alumni Profile: Tim Hammer ’08, S’12

Tim Hammer ’08, S’12 with his son, Everion, 5, and daughter, Ezhanna, 4.

Adoption runs in Tim Hammer’s family. Adopted by his parents when he was just one month old, the Bethel University and Bethel Seminary graduate recently became a parent himself—to Everion, 5, and Ezhanna, 4, when the adoption papers were finalized in June 2015. 

Hammer’s newly adopted son and daughter are his sister’s biological children. When she could no longer care for them, their social worker contacted Hammer as a potential guardian. He says the life-changing decision to become the children’s caretaker was self-evident: “When the opportunity to take care of them presented itself, there was no question. There wasn’t hesitancy,” says Hammer. “Some people, even the social worker, said this is something really odd for a 27-year-old single man to do: adopt his sister’s children. But it was really clear that this is a journey God called me to.”

Hammer currently serves as Bethel’s associate director of marketing. His colleague Michael Vedders, director of marketing, observes that “Tim set many of his personal goals aside and let his life be totally changed for the sake of those little kids. It’s been fun to see God’s hand in the outcome.”

As a single working dad, Hammer hopes that their unique family situation will become one of his children’s strengths. “Just as I grew up knowing that my parents’ love is not a result of genetic relation, I hope that my kids will see that what makes a family isn’t just a mom and a dad; it’s that I love my kids,” he says. “It’s the love we have for each other, and God’s love for us.”

Hammer graduated from Bethel in 2008 with a degree in biology, going on to earn his M.A. in Transformational Leadership at Bethel Seminary in 2012. He describes the education he received as “priming” him for embracing ambiguity and challenge. “My experiences at Bethel helped me establish a pattern of taking ownership in the community, feeling responsible for my part,” he explains.

That part included being elected Bethel student body president in 2007. “The opportunity to serve in leadership as a student, whether through student government or Welcome Week, was a chance to really invest in something that I believed in,” he says. “It’s the difference between being a homeowner versus a renter—when you are an owner you have a deep sense that your actions matter. It’s less transactional and more intentional.”

This sense of intentionality is now channeled into his consistent presence and participation in the lives of his children. Hammer’s own life is radically different from two years ago, and the change is an enriching and positive one. “I’m surprised and reminded of how smoothly it’s gone, especially considering the fact that two years ago this was not what I was doing,” he says. “It is life and this is normal and this is what we get to do. I pick the kids up, we go get haircuts together, we eat dinner, I try to find time to do laundry. This is the life I get to live.”

Hammer acknowledges that his role is not without challenges. “There are just certain things we aren’t able to do, or certain experiences that I can’t give my kids as a single dad,” he says. However, he frames these challenges from a positive perspective, and continues to view these experiences as having potential to cultivate compassion: “Because our family looks a little different,” he says, “I hope that my kids will get a fuller sense of what it means to be a family, what it means to be a follower of Christ, what it means to have Christ’s love as part of our family.”

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