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.
Holman Middle School student Victoria Nguyen recently was named Miss Virginia American Coed Junior Teen after competing in the Miss Virginia American Coed pageant in Williamsburg. She was the youngest competitor in her division. Nguyen now will advance to represent Virginia at the 2015 Miss American Junior Teen Pageant at Walt Disney World in Florida in November. > Read more.
Companion Extraordinaire Home Care and Skilled Services will be honoring veterans and current military members May 14 at 11 a.m. The event will take place at 5311 Lakeside Avenue.
Companion Extraordinaire dedicated a hall in its new Lakeside office as a “Wall of Honor” and will be presenting 13 military service men and women with certificates as well as placing their service photos on the wall.
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Public vote open through Friday to select winner
Citizen Staff Reports
Henrico resident Haley Malloy is one of three national finalists for a $10,000 scholarship, whose winner will be determined by the vote of the public.
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Relax this holiday weekend with Fridays Uncorked at Southern Season – taste wines from the Roman Empire! Or at James River Cellars who is hosting “Experience Virginia” – sample Virginia wine, beer, cider and mead. And what goes better with wine than strawberries – an annual tradition in Varina, the Gallmeyer Farms’ Strawberry Fields Festival is tomorrow. Other fun happenings this weekend include: “A Little Princess” at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen; weekly dance at American Legion Post 125; and National Theatre Live’s “Man and Superman” at the University of Richmond. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Final performance of 2015 season – ‘Quartet’ – starts this week
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The theatre also announced its four-show schedule for its 52nd season, which will begin in October and continue into June 2016, and announced a new partnership with The Bifocals Theatre Project, an outreach program into senior communities in the Richmond region. > Read more.
It’s a beautiful weekend to spend outdoors and Henrico has many options to choose from! The 31st annual Lebanese Food Festival begins today on the grounds of St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church. The MISS Foundation’s Kindness Walk is tomorrow, as well as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides Walk. Take a Sunday Stroll at Dorey Park with the Pocahontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society or raise money for the March of Dimes at the March for Babies in Innsbrook. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarHenrico County Public Schools’ Special Education Advisory Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the library at Brookland Middle School. For details, call Paulette Smith Cook at 869-1430. Full text