Adopted teen settles in with her new family
More than a dozen family members will gather at Lisa Brooks’ Henrico County home this Christmas.
Her mom and dad from New Jersey will be there.
Some of the children that she raised as a foster mother during the past 20 years will be there.
Her biological daughters, Ashley, 25, and Taylor, 14, will be there.
And her three-year-old grandson, Tyler, also will be at the two-story home off Parham Road, along with Brooks’ newest daughter, Alexis.
Brooks adopted Alexis, 17, last year after she became her foster mother through KidsPeace, an agency that serves children with special needs.
It wasn’t long before Alexis made it her “forever home.”
Brooks, who works for Verizon, was surprised to learn that she was eligible to adopt even though she was single. As soon as she learned the news, she talked with Alexis about becoming her mom.
“I sat down with Alexis and asked her, ‘Would you like for me to adopt you? Do you want to change your name to my name?’”
Alexis recalls how it felt to become part of the Brooks family.
“I was really excited because it’s been awhile since I’ve been with a family. I felt welcome. When I found out I was going to be adopted that made things a thousand times better.”
Since being adopted, Brooks said Alexis has made tremendous progress. She gets good grades, has an after-school job and recently earned her driver’s license.
Alexis said she loves being part of the Brooks family and this time of the year is extra special.
The house is filled with decorations. Stockings hang near the railing leading upstairs. A tree decked out in burgundy and gold fills a corner of the living room.
This year, the children decorated the tree by themselves.
“It was kind of hectic because no one knew where everything was supposed to go. This was the first year we got to do it by ourselves. It turned out better than what we expected,” Alexis said.
The ornaments adorning the tree are unique.
“Each ornament has [a name] on it to show that we belong,” Alexis said. “It’s basically a family tree.”
On Christmas morning, Brooks will cook a huge breakfast. The kids will insist on opening presents before they sit down to eat.
The rest of the day will be spent munching on treats, playing games, doing skits and just hanging out with the family.
Brooks will have time to savor all that comes with having an open home and an open heart.
“I had a two-parent home. I had a beautiful childhood and I just want to give back. I love children. My doors are always open.”
Other children need forever homes
James is 14. His mother and father have passed away in the last year.
He is one of at least six children in Henrico County who are still hoping to find homes for Christmas and beyond.
Hundreds of children in Virginia are waiting for adoptive families.
While the county finds homes each year for about 12 children, finding homes for teens like James can be difficult.
“We have a shortage of available families to adopt our teenagers,” Shawn Rozier, assistant director of Henrico County Social Services wrote in an email. “Teenagers still want a forever family and they still need the love and care [of a] family.”
For details about how to adopt or become a foster parent in Henrico County, visit http://www.co.henrico.va.us/dss/.
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This story is part of the series “Virginia Tapestry: Reflecting Our Rich Diversity,” produced by In Your Shoes Media.
Richmonders Jim Morgan and Dan Stackhouse were married at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Lakeside Mar. 7 month after winning the Say I Do! With OutRVA wedding contest in February. The contest was open to LGBT couples in recognition of Virginia’s marriage equality law, which took effect last fall. The wedding included a package valued at $25,000.
Morgan and Stackhouse, who became engaged last fall on the day marriage equality became the law in Virginia, have been together for 16 years. They were selected from among 40 couples who registered for the contest. The winners were announced at the Say I Do! Dessert Soiree at the Renaissance in Richmond in February. > Read more.
The Fourth Annual Healy Gala will be held Saturday, Apr. 11, at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The event was created to honor Michael Healy, a local businessman and community leader who died suddenly in June 2011, and to endow the Mike Healy Scholarship (through the Glen Allen Ruritan Club), which benefits students of Glen Allen High School.
Healy served as the chairman of Glen Allen Day for several years and helped raise thousands of dollars for local charities and organizations. > Read more.
The Richmond Battlefield Ruritan Club is holding a Brunswick stew sale, with orders accepted through March 13 and pick-up available March 14. The cost is $8 per quart.
Pick-up will be at noon, March 14, at the Richmond Heights Civic Center, 7440 Wilton Road in Varina.
To place an order, call Mike at (804) 795- 7327 or Jim at (804) 795-9116. > Read more.
Two events this weekend benefit man’s best friend – a rabies clinic, sponsored by the Glendale Ruritan Club, and an American Red Cross Canine First Aid & CPR workshop at Alpha Dog Club. The fifth annual Shelby Rocks “Cancer is a Drag” Womanless Pageant will benefit the American Cancer Society and a spaghetti luncheon on Sunday will benefit the Eastern Henrico Ruritan Club. Twin Hickory Library will also host a used book sale this weekend with proceeds benefiting The Friends of the Twin Hickory Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Ichiban offers rich Asian flavors, but portions lack
In a spot that could be easily overlooked is a surprising, and delicious, Japanese restaurant. In a tiny nook in the shops at the corner of Ridgefield Parkway and Pump Road sits a welcoming, warm and comfortable Asian restaurant called Ichiban, which means “the best.”
The restaurant, tucked between a couple others in the Gleneagles Shopping Center, was so quiet and dark that it was difficult to tell if it was open at 6:30 p.m. on a Monday. When I opened the door, I smiled when I looked inside. > Read more.
Disney’s no-frills, live-action ‘Cinderella’ delights
Cinderella is the latest from Disney’s new moviemaking battle plan: producing live-action adaptations of all their older classics. Which is a plan that’s had questionable results in the past.
Alice in Wonderland bloated with more Tim Burton goth-pop than the inside of a Hot Topic. Maleficent was a step in the right direction, but the movie couldn’t decide if Maleficent should be a hero or a villain (even if she should obviously be a villain) and muddled itself into mediocrity.
Cinderella is much better. Primarily, because it’s just Cinderella. No radical rebooting. No Tim Burton dreck. It’s the 1950 Disney masterpiece, transposed into live action and left almost entirely untouched. > Read more.
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