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.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.
The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
A finalist in the Bravo television show Top Chef is bringing one of his four restaurant chains to Henrico County.
Bryan Voltaggio, who was the runner-up of the sixth season of Top Chef, (finishing second to his brother, Michael) and his business partner, Hilda Staples, will open their third Family Meal restaurant, at Henrico's Willow Lawn shopping center. The restaurant is expected to open early next year. > Read more.
The United States Army Field Band will present a free public performance at Deep Run Park in Henrico on Sunday, Aug 3 at 3 p.m.
Members of the band are soldiers who also serve as “musical ambassadors of the Army” and perform for schools and communities nationwide.
The Concert Band will be performing along with the Soldiers’ Chorus. > Read more.
Get up and dance – square dance, that is – with the Tuckahoe Square Dance Club tonight! More musical events this weekend include family-friendly karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House, the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus Concert and the Henrico Teen Theatre Company’s production of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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