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.
To help celebrate twenty years of service to advocating for abused and neglected children in Henrico County, Henrico Court Appointed Special Advocates, Inc. (CASA) will host an evening with bestselling author K.L. Randis on Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Belmont Recreation Center in Lakeside.
Randis is best known for her bestselling novel, Spilled Milk, which tells her painful – but ultimately triumphant – personal story of abuse and of child abuse prevention. The book is her first novel.
The Ambassador of the Philippines to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. attended the Ninth Annual Filipino Festival at Our Lady of Lourdes Church earlier this month. Cuisia (pictured above with festival performers) was welcomed by County Manager John Vithoulkas and Brookland District Supervisor Dick Glover (below) at the church, which is located in Lakeside.
While enjoying some of the cultural performances at the festival, the ambassador and his wife had a private lunch with Vithoulkas, Glover, Eldon Burton (an outreach representative from U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner’s Office) and Father James Begley, the pastor of OLL. > Read more.
Hundreds of spectators filled the banks of the James River to watch two dozen teams of competitors in the Walgreen’s Richmond International Dragon Boat Festival at Rocketts Landing Aug. 2. The event included a number of races, as well as several cultural performances. The sport is billed as the fastest growing water sport in the world.(Photo by Roger Walk for the Henrico Citizen) > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
‘Fire and Rescue’ proves too predictable, boring
Planes: Fire and Rescue opens with a dedication to the hero firefighters of the world. It’s an admirable notion, and it makes sense, given that this is a film about planes that fight fires.
But here it might be a little out of place, as Planes: Fire and Rescue has a few things on its mind besides supporting the men and women who routinely throw themselves into burning buildings.
Like money. Lots and lots of money – into the 11-figures-and-counting range. In case you weren’t aware, 2006’s Cars was the biggest moneymaker Disney had in decades – not because of how much green the film printed at the box office, but because a combination of toys, games and snack foods stamped with the Cars seal of approval routinely pulls in tens of billions of dollars per year. > Read more.
This weekend in Henrico, you can learn about fall herbs or mad science. Enjoy some laughs from West End Comedy or Three-Penny Theatre’s production of “The Rivah Home Companion.” For music lovers, Jennifer Nettles is in concert tonight and the fifth annual GWAR-B-Q takes place tomorrow at Hadad’s Lake. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarJames River Cellars Winery, 11008 Washington Hwy. in Glen Allen, will host a Labor Day Wine & Cheese Pairing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Celebrate the holiday with a… Full text