Jennifer Hudson, Train, Earth Wind & Fire, Rixton, Katharine McPhee, Ashley Monroe, Dan & Shay and Jillian Michaels will appear on the 16th Annual A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, an entertainment special to be broadcast Friday, Dec. 19 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. The special features uplifting stories about families who have adopted from foster care in order to raise awareness of this important social issue. The inspirational stories of these American families are enhanced with performances by some of today’s most popular artists.
Musical performances will accompany heartwarming stories that highlight the remarkable American children and families involved in this rewarding process. This year’s special profiles the following adoptive families:
VALENZA-GEE FAMILY (Los Angeles, Calif.):
“I always wanted to be a dad. At first I thought I would adopt after I had a life partner. But as time went on, I thought, ‘Why wait? I can adopt as a single parent or as a gay parent.’” Rich Valenza became certified to adopt and received a call about 5-year-old Zack and his 4-year-old sister, Emmary. The siblings were homeless and malnourished when they entered foster care. “They just stole my heart,” says Rich. “I remember being excited to move in with our dad because I could tell he really cared and would keep us safe,” says Emmary. “After I adopted my children, I met Jared,” says Rich. “Rich and I became life partners and I fell in love with our kids the moment I met them,” says Jared Gee. “Our parents are awesome and I can’t imagine what our lives would be like today without them,” says Zack.
HUNT FAMILY (Los Angeles, Calif.):
Jennifer Hunt had been a children’s book editor for 17 years when she decided to adopt. “I was adopted as an infant, so I grew up with the sense that family are the people who open their arms to you.” Jennifer was matched with 17-year-old Josiah, who had been in foster care since age 2. “The risk of aging out and becoming homeless was a real concern and it made me scared. I did everything I could to focus on my education, because I knew college would give me a better chance in life,” says Josiah. “When I met Josiah, I knew in my heart that he was meant to be my child. He had goals and dreams and really needed a parent to care and be there for him,” says Jennifer. Today, Josiah is a freshman in college studying 3D animation. “Without my mom, I wouldn’t be where I am now. She has shown me more love than anyone in my entire life,” he says.
NOLIN FAMILY (Birmingham, Ala.):
“Our daughters Kathleen and Sara were in their teens when we decided to adopt,” says Susan. “Initially we considered international adoption, but all that changed once we learned how many children are in foster care,” says Denver. Just weeks before Christmas, the Nolins received a call about an emergency placement for a 12-year-old child who had been in foster care since age 3. “We fell in love with Heather the moment we saw her,” says Susan. “When I met my family, it felt like I was dreaming. I’d never had a real Christmas before,” says Heather. Today, Heather is a freshman in college studying early childhood education.
WILLIAMS FAMILY (Anaheim, Calif.):
Kelly and Jared Williams had two biological sons before adopting their daughter, Mara, in 2006. “Being a parent was so rewarding, and our sons Drew and Jordan were very supportive of our decision to adopt,” says Jared. “We fell in love with Mara. Her situation was heartbreaking. She didn’t know how to speak because no one had talked to her,” says Kelly. Mara thrived in the care of the Williams family, and today is a talkative 12-year-old excelling in school. “My brother and I couldn’t imagine our sister alone in foster care, and we looked forward to our parents adopting again,” says Drew. In 2013, the Williams adopted Davion and his little brother, Shawn. “All of our children have added so much love to our lives.”
Currently, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. The inspirational “Children Waiting” segment gives voice to these forgotten children by creating an intimate portrait of their hopes, their dreams and their wish for a “Forever Family.”
The 16th Annual A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is produced by Triage Entertainment and Goldsmith Entertainment. Karen Mack, Stu Schreiberg, Stephen Kroopnick and Marilyn Seabury are the executive producers. Kelly Brock is the producer, Kimberly Steer is the supervising producer and Mary Donaldson is the coordinating producer. Mike Simon is directing the special.
The special is presented in association with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children’s Action Network. Wendy’s founder, Dave Thomas, who was adopted, established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a national non-profit public charity, in 1992. It is dedicated to dramatically increasing the adoptions of children in the United States foster care system.
The Children’s Action Network (CAN) was founded in 1990 by leaders in the entertainment industry in order to harness the power of the entertainment media on behalf of children. The special is a part of CAN’s National Adoption Campaign to raise awareness of the joys of adopting and to find homes for the children who are waiting.