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Same-Sex Couple On Supreme Court Ruling On Same LGBTQ Foster Parents

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

We want to bring in another perspective now on this Supreme Court ruling. So we're turning to Rob and Reece Scheer. They're married fathers of five children, living in Montgomery County, Md. They adopted their kids through the foster care system, and they lent their voices to a friend of the court brief in support of the losing side of this case.

Rob, Reece, thanks for being here.

REECE SCHEER: Thank you. Good morning.

ROB SCHEER: Good morning. Thank you for having us.

FADEL: Good morning. So Rob, I'm going to start with you and just ask you to react to what our previous guest said, that this is about the religious liberties of her clients.

ROB SCHEER: Well, you know, first I want to educate your guest because if she's had any dealings with children who are in the foster care system, the first thing we have to stop doing is labeling them. They are children in foster care, children experiencing foster care. They're not foster kids. And it's something that children across our country no longer want to be called. Secondly, I want to make sure that it's very clear that, you know, we've had people reaching out to us and say, well, just go to another agency.

FADEL: Yeah.

ROB SCHEER: It's not about that. It's about...

FADEL: Yeah.

ROB SCHEER: ...The 120,000 children that are sitting in the system, where parents' rights have been terminated, and they're looking for a forever family. If these churches and these agencies do the job they were supposed to do, we wouldn't be seeing the numbers that we see in foster care today.

FADEL: Now, you've spoken publicly about being a foster kid yourself. How does your experience inform your view of this case?

ROB SCHEER: Well, you know, again, it just shows me how the church is a lot of talk and no action. I was a child who aged out of foster care in 1984 and became homeless. And understanding that 30,000 children in our country age out of foster care, and 70% of them will be homeless within the first two years. Where is the church there? Where is these agencies that say they care about the children?

You know, we have five kids. Our oldest is 20. Our youngest is 12. All five of them came to us through foster care. And if you look at each one of my children and ask them, the one thing that they say is that they want love. They don't say that they want a mom or a dad. They want love. And that's what...

FADEL: Yeah.

ROB SCHEER: ...We give them every single day.

FADEL: You know, Reece, I'll bring you in here. Can you talk about how you and Rob became fathers and if you ever faced discrimination in the process?

REECE SCHEER: Yes. We became fathers in 2009 - is when our first two children arrived into our home. And we chose this route because of my husband's previous experience through foster care and what he dealt with. And to me, it seemed like a natural form for us to bring in children to our home. And with that - I'm sorry. I kind of lost my train of thought there.

FADEL: That's OK.

REECE SCHEER: I apologize.

FADEL: What does it mean when you brought your kids - what did it mean to become a family in this way?

REECE SCHEER: Well, what this was is, really it was based upon an experience that I had outside of our own home where I saw a child out on the street who was less than 3 years old, at 3 o'clock in the morning. And I'm like, what kind of parents or family are watching these children? And so I felt that there was definitely a need for parents, that I believe like Rob and I are, that bring these children into our home and be able to raise them with good values and good structure that they truly, truly need.

FADEL: Rob, many point out that this is a narrow decision by the Supreme Court on this specific case. So in the broader sense, does it impact parents like you?

ROB SCHEER: You know, it actually does impact parents like us. And the reason I say that is because anything that impacts a child who's in (unintelligible) foster care - 438,000 - 230,000 enter every year. Any opportunity that we are closing the door for a child to have a loving family, it does affect us. You know, Family Equality, who we support highly, we are focusing right now on the John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act. And also, we want to make sure that we focus on the Equality Act. Children deserve a loving family. And I feel like the Supreme Court has failed us on this.

And again, I understand it. We can go to other agencies. It's not about that. What I hope I see - that we see happens is we hope that we see states throughout our country realize that the funding that they're giving, the agencies that they're choosing when contracts are getting ready to be renewed, they new - do not renew these contracts with agencies that are not opening their doors for everyone.

FADEL: In Chief Justice John Roberts' opinion, he wrote, Catholic Social Services seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs. It does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else. Can you, in the few seconds that we do have left, react to that?

ROB SCHEER: Well, I can react to it by letting you know about our son, our oldest son Alex, who was actually with a faith-based agency. And when we met him at the age of 18 wanting to be his parents, we were turned away by this agency. They would not return our phone calls. And after going to the state and the county, we realized it was because we were same-sex. If we had not pushed the county and the state to take Alex's case back into the county, our son, who now is 20 and graduated from high school, freshman in college, he would not have had the foundation and the love of a family. Instead, what would have happened...

FADEL: Yeah.

ROB SCHEER: ...He would have aged...

FADEL: Yes.

ROB SCHEER: ...Out, like so many other children, and would have been homeless.

FADEL: We'll have to leave it there. Rob and Reece Scheer, thank you.

REECE SCHEER: Thank you.

ROB SCHEER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF FATB'S "UNRAVEL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.