Turning Hatred into Love: One American Girl & Her Forever Family

American Girl Amaya protested by One Million Moms

Five years ago today, a young girl named Amaya was legally adopted by her foster parents.

Two weeks ago, Amaya was featured in American Girl magazine. In her own words she shared the story of coming from the foster care system, becoming part of her permanent family, as well as the charity work she and her parents do in support of other foster kids.

Not long after the magazine was published, right-wing watchdogs One Million Moms called for a boycott of American Girl Doll and their magazine, warning parents against exposing their daughters to such a family.

And such a family it is.

You see, Amaya has two dads. She and her three brothers were all adopted by Daddy Rob and Dada Reece from the foster care system. They live on a farm with ducks, goats, chickens, 2 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

American Girl protested for featuring girl with gay dads
(L to R) Greyson, Daddy Rob, Makai, Amaya, Dada Reece, Tristan

When American Girl heard Amaya’s story, they chose it over thousands of others submitted to be published in their quarterly magazine. They chose it to be featured in their holiday issue — also their most popular.

When profiling a girl for their magazine, American Girl spends time alone with their subjects in order to get the most authentic story. Family and friends have to wait to read it until the magazine is published.

When Amaya, her fathers, and her brothers sat down to read their advanced copy recently, it was truly a special moment. Both parents shed tears of joy, and Amaya also broke down crying. When asked why, she replied that she was so proud that this might help other kids. That it might help even just one foster girl feel hopeful and loved.

As I mentioned, Amaya and her family are involved in charity work related to foster kids. Amaya’s father, Rob, is also a former foster kid. As a child, he recalls arriving at the home of foster parents with his few earthly belongings in a trash bag. This is not an uncommon occurrence. This is still happening today.

Rob co-founded Comfort Cases with the mission of providing a brand new suitcase, duffel bag, or backpack (along with toiletries, pajamas, stuffed animals, etc.) for every foster child in need. Since the organization’s start in October 2013, Comfort Cases has assembled and donated over 10,000 cases. I’ve had the honor of witnessing Comfort Cases in action — it’s truly a sight to behold.

On top of all this, Rob, Reece and the kids are lovely, generous people that our family is privileged to call dear friends. They’re always ready with open arms and an open home, hosting all manner of shindigs for the large number of gay dads and their families we’ve come to know over the past few years.

A gaggle of gay dads (above) & their kids (below) partying at Amaya’s house. Can you spot me, Papa & Jon?

So back to that One Million Moms boycott. Here’s a quote from their web site:

“American Girl is attempting to desensitize our youth by featuring a family with two dads. If your child has not seen this yet, then be careful she is not exposed and can avoid a premature conversation she is far too young to understand.”

Also voicing his opposition is Jason Benham, one half of the twin brothers booted last year from their planned HGTV show for their anti-gay beliefs. From Benham’s Instagram account:

“We’re done with American Girl Doll for our girls. Two dads is not normal, no matter how hard they push it.”

And there have been plenty of sick, hateful things on social media directed at Amaya and her family — from accusations of furthering a gay agenda to horrific comments about rape and abuse.

Yet the positive outweighs the negative by far. Mattel has reached out and offered their support, publishing Amaya’s story online — a first for the magazine’s profiles. The family has been interviewed or written about by The Washington Post and the local NBC affiliate. Rob and Reece have received scores of emails, messages, and postings showing their love and solidarity.

And most importantly to Amaya and her dads, foster kids and the foster care system are being talked about, given more visibility, and in the end more kids will be helped.

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November is National Adoption Month. Today is Amaya’s adoption anniversary. Every day there are foster children carrying their belongings in a trash bag, and the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Please help turn messages of hate into mountains and mountains of love and support. Drown out the voices of fear and bigotry with the voice of an 11-year-old girl who found love and a family, and wants other kids to have the same.

Donate to Comfort Cases    Learn more about Comfort Cases
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Read the follow-up to this article, including the incredible way the boycott of this lovely family backfired!

Top 2 photos by Joyce Smith Photography.

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