American Girl Magazine Faces Criticism for Photo of Adopted Daughter and Two Dads

PHOTO: The Scheer family, from left, Greyson, 8, Rob, Makai, 8, Amaya, 11, Reece, and Tristan, 6.Joyce Smith
The Scheer family, from left, Greyson, 8, Rob, Makai, 8, Amaya, 11, Reece, and Tristan, 6.

A magazine for young girls is facing criticism from a conservative mother's group over a photo of an 11-year-old with her two fathers.

In the November/December issue of American Girl magazine, Amaya Scheer of Maryland is shown with her three younger brothers -- Greyson, Makai and Tristan -- along with their fathers, Rob (Daddy) and Reece (Dada). Amaya shares her experience in foster care and how her family works to give back to other kids through Rob's charity, Comfort Cases.

However, One Million Moms, an organization affiliated with the American Family Association, said in a blog post that its members are "disappointed" in American Girl for spotlighting Amaya's "Forever Family."

"1MM supports adoption and taking care of orphans as we are biblically instructed to do in Psalm 82:3, but American Girl could have focused the article on the child and not about the parents since it is a magazine for children. The magazine also could have chosen another child to write about and remained neutral in the culture war."

The group is encouraging readers to not only unsubscribe from American Girl magazine and catalog, but also avoid shopping at the company's stores until it stops "pushing the homosexual agenda to children."

Monica Cole, director of 1MM, told ABC News today that the group started its campaign against American Girl after receiving several complaints from AFA supporters.

"The article was great. The little girl is precious -- all the kids were precious. It's just, anything related to sexuality should be handled by the parents. Our issue is with the picture itself. It should have been left out. American Girl was pushing an agenda and being very politically correct."

Cole said many children whose parents subscribe to the magazine began asking questions too soon.

"It's a red flag for conservative parents because now they are not sure of what will be published in the future," Cole said.

Stephanie Spanos, a spokesperson for American Girl, told ABC News that Amaya's story exemplifies the company's mission to uplift young girls.

"American Girl stands in strong support of all girls everywhere. Our singular goal is to encourage, inspire, and unite girls of all ages and backgrounds, and we love shining a spotlight on their amazing gifts and achievements," Spanos said. "Amaya’s story about her efforts to help kids in foster care is a perfect example of how one young girl is making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. The article is very much in line with the thousands of others we’ve shared in American Girl magazine over the years, and we are proud to have shared Amaya’s story with our readers."

In her profile, Amaya recounts how she and Makai arrived at the Scheer's home with their belongings in trash bags. Fourth months later, Greyson and Tristan joined the family with trash bags in tow as well. This brought up old memories for her Daddy Rob, who did the same thing when he was in foster care, Amaya told American Girl, noting that Rob was so inspired by their common bond that he created Comfort Cases to "help kids in foster care feel better about themselves."

PHOTO: Amaya Scheer, 11, is featured in the Nov/Dec issue of American Girl Magazine with her adopted brothers and two dads.Joyce Smith
Amaya Scheer, 11, is featured in the Nov/Dec issue of American Girl Magazine with her adopted brothers and two dads.

"We provide nice new bags and backpacks for kids to travel with as they move around," Amaya said.

The packs include donated items such as toothpaste, pajamas and blankets, which Amaya said she helps sort through.

Reece Scheer told ABC News he and his husband see the American Girl story as Amaya's moment.

"We had no idea what was said until it was published," Scheer said. "We sat down as a family and read it. We got very choked up and emotional about it. She was crying because she was blessed to be featured."

Scheer said once he heard about the backlash, he spoke to Amaya directly.

"I just told her, 'There are some people out there that don't agree with our family so you might hear something. I just want you to be aware of it,'" he said.

1MM said the Scheer family photo can spur a "premature conversation" about a family with two dads. But Scheer said the choice to have that discussion depends on the family.

"My belief is children don't understand discrimination. It's taught to them. They see who loves each other, but they don't see what love should be. Love is love. It doesn't matter what form it comes in," Scheer said, noting that he and his husband were initially taken aback by 1MM's response.

"You believe moms live with unconditional love, so it was saddening to us to hear something so heated from moms. I believe that Mattel and American Girl are showing this is the new family that's out there. This is the modern family."

Cole said conversations about non-traditional families should be led by parents rather than corporations.

American Girl "portrayed this as something that is typical. We stand up for decency and what is moral. Anything that could cause controversy should be left out of children's magazines." Cole said, noting that she realizes the public may view the opinions of 1MM as "out of date," but insists the organization's agenda is timeless.

"As far as scripture goes, that doesn't go out of style," Cole said. "You can love the sinner and hate the sin."

Cole said it "would be wise of [American Girl] to keep their content G-rated" going forward. But Scheer said he hopes others make an effort open their eyes and hearts to his family before passing judgment.

"Understand who we are and what we fight for and what we do in the community and how we love our children. You have to be there," Scheer said.