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.
Henrico's Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is one of only 20 gardens in North America nominated for USA Today’s “10Best Reader’s Choice” contest for Best Public Garden.
The 20 public gardens nominated are:
• Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
• Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York
• Buthcart Gardens, Victoria, B.C.
• Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga. > Read more.
Photo by Patty Kruszewski/Henrico Citizen 02/24/2014
The Fifth Annual Henrico Police Athletic League (PAL) Award Banquet, held Feb. 6 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, honored HPAL’s top volunteers and employees, including Morgan Lewis, Youth of the Year; Dale Alexander, Volunteer of the Year; Lowell Thomas, Employee of the Year, and Victor Williams, Board Member of the Year. Also honored for their support were Jim and Christi Dowd of Richmond BMW and Josh Davis of Henrico County Public Schools Pupil Transportation.
Keynote speaker for the banquet was Tim Hightower, a University of Richmond alumnus and former NFL running back. Hightower was introduced by Billy McMullen, former NFL player and a Henrico PAL board member. > Read more.
The Pocahontas Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists, based in western Henrico, last year donated more than $1.3 million worth of manufacturers coupons to U.S. military personnel overseas. Throughout 2013, members and friends of the chapter clipped 952,349 manufacturers’ coupons valued at $1,350,630, which Program Chairman Carole Featherston shipped to U.S. military bases abroad. Military personnel can use the coupons when shopping in base stores.
The National Society Daughters of American Colonists is a women’s genealogical and patriotic society whose members are descended from a man or woman who rendered civil or military service in any of the American colonies prior to July 4, 1776. > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
The Henrico County Division of Recreation and Parks has several events to offer residents this weekend! Do you have what it takes to be a volunteer at Meadow Farm Museum? Learn more about the African Americans who served in the Union Army during the Civil War at Dabbs House Museum, or check out the Henrico County Adventure Series. The Division of Fire will dedicate the new Fire Station #7 this weekend as well. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
But animated South African film has its moments
You might have seen something called Khumba while clicking through a Redbox recently (or perhaps it was nestled in some hidden corner of a DVD sale shelf). And chances are, you passed it by without much of a thought. Makes sense; that goggle-eyed cartoon zebra on the cover (a zebra that’s dangerously close to becoming Madagascar copyright infringement) doesn’t inspire much confidence.
But when Khumba starts up, it looks nothing like you’d expect. The camera gazes across the savannah and the soundtrack swells with triumphant South African vocals. > Read more.
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