9:30am PT by Bryn Elise Sandberg
Jennifer Hudson, Train, Earth Wind & Fire to Perform on CBS Holiday Special
CBS' 16th annual A Home for the Holidays has lined up its performers.
This year's holiday entertainment special will feature performances from Jennifer Hudson, Train, Earth Wind & Fire, Rixton, Katharine McPhee, Ashley Monroe, Dan & Shay and Jillian Michaels. Airing on Friday, December 19 at 9:00 p.m., the program will aim to raise awareness about foster care by sharing uplifting stories about families who have adopted from the system.
Produced by Triage Entertainment and Goldsmith Entertainment, Karen Mack, Stu Schreiberg, Stephen Kroopnick and Marilyn Seabury serve as executive producers. Mike Simon is directing the special that is presented in association with the Children's Action Network and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The latter foundation was established in 1992 by Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas, who was himself adopted, as a national non-profit public charity. It is dedicated to increasing the adoptions of children in the United States foster care system.
The special's musical performances will accompany the true stories of the following families:
Valenza-Gee Family (Los Angeles)
"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 received a call about 5-year-old Zack and his 4-year-old sister, Emmary, who were both homeless and malnourished when they entered foster care. "They just stole my heart," says Valenza, who met his life partner, Jared Gee, shortly afterward. "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 Valenza. "Rich and I became life partners and I fell in love with our kids the moment I met them,'" says Gee.
Hunt Family (Los Angeles)
After 17 years as a book editor, Jennifer Hunt 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," says Hunt, who was matched with 17-year-old Josiah. He'd 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. 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, AL)
"Our daughters, Kathleen and Sara, were in their teens when we decided to adopt," says Susan Nolin. "Initially we considered international adoption, but all that changed once we learned how many children are in foster care," says Denver Nolin. Just weeks before Christmas, the Nolins got a call about an emergency placement for a 12-year-old child, Heather, who had been in foster care since age 3. "When I met my family, it felt like I was dreaming. I’d never had a real Christmas before," says Heather. Today, she is a freshman in college studying early childhood education.
Williams Family (Anaheim, CA)
Kelly Williams had two biological sons before adopting her 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 Williams' husband, Jared, adding: "We fell in love with Mara. Her situation was heartbreaking. She didn’t know how to speak because no one had talked to her." 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 Mara's brother Drew. In 2013, the Williams adopted Davion and his little brother, Shawn. "All of our children have added so much love to our lives."