Rob Scheer entered the foster system at 12 years old after a childhood filled with abuse. Decades later, he works to educate people about the system and let them know what it’s really like to be a child simply looking for a home to call their own.
In his book A Forever Family: Fostering Change One Child at a Time, Scheer tells readers about the abuse he endured at the hands of his biological parents as well as his stepfather, foster father and others. He also explains his journey through the foster system and his eventual homelessness after he was kicked out by his foster family weeks after his 18th birthday.
Scheer eventually worked his way up in the business world and later met his now husband, Reece. They are dads to four children: 14-year-old Amaya, 11-year-old Makai, 11-year-old Greyson and 9-year-old Tristan, two sets of siblings they fostered and later adopted to build their “forever family.”
When the family’s foster journey began, Scheer immediately noticed the kids brought their belongings in trash bags ― just as he had as a child. This motivated Scheer to create Comfort Cases, a nonprofit that puts together bags filled with items like pajamas, hygienic products, stuffed animals and books for kids in the foster system across the country.
Scheer has also spoken openly about his traumatic childhood and his bouts of depression and addiction later in life. He told HuffPost he’s been criticized for this decision, specifically when it comes to sharing his story with his children, but that he continues to do it so other kids will know their past is what gave them the strength to conquer the future.
“No. 1, [those critics] don’t walk in my shoes,” Scheer said. “And No. 2, we should all be proud of our past, no matter how hard it is. Our past really is what helps define us, even for our future.”
One specific challenge Scheer has spoken about are the comments his family ― four black children being raised by two gay white men ― receives. With their kids, the two dads tackle conversations about race and prejudice. With those on the outside looking in, they often have to tackle the idea that people are “colorblind,” or don’t see race, and therefore, see everyone as equal.
“People say that to me all the time. They’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t see color,’” Scheer said. “Well, then you don’t see my kids. My kids are color. My kids deserve to be recognized.”
He noted that he knows for some people that the sentiment comes “from a good place,” but he often points out that by saying “you don’t see color, then you just see a river of white.”
Scheer and his family will continue tackling these comments and these issues, just as they will continue educating others about the foster system, showing them the reality of many kids’ lives and teaching them that these children are just as deserving of love as any other child.
“I don’t want to scare anyone away from the system, I don’t want to scare anyone away from adoption,” Scheer said in a video for HuffPost. “But what I want people to do is to do this with open eyes, to do it with understanding and unconditional love.”