GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING MUSICAL ARTISTS YOLANDA ADAMS, MARY J.
BLIGE, SHERYL CROW, THE GOO GOO DOLLS AND KELLY ROWLAND TO
PERFORM, ALONG WITH JESSE MCCARTNEY, ON THE SEVENTH ANNUAL
"A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS," A NEW ENTERTAINMENT SPECIAL
CELEBRATING THE JOYS OF ADOPTION, WEDNESDAY, DEC. 21
ON THE CBS TELEVISION NETWORK
Jamie Lee Curtis, Darryl Hannah, George Lopez, Virginia Madsen and
Victoria Rowell Present Inspirational Stories About Adoption
Grammy Award-winning musical artists Yolanda Adams, Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, The Goo Goo Dolls and Kelly Rowland ("Destiny's Child") will perform, along with Jesse McCartney, on the seventh annual A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, a new entertainment special to be broadcast Wednesday, Dec. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Jamie Lee Curtis, Darryl Hannah, George Lopez, Virginia Madsen and Victoria Rowell ("The Young and the Restless"), who herself was raised in foster care for 18 years, present inspirational stories about adoption.
Following the success of the past six annual shows, this year's special continues to tell moving stories about adoption to raise awareness of this important social issue. The inspirational stories of these American families are enhanced by performances from some of today's most popular performers. In the special, Yolanda Adams performs a powerful cover of R. Kelly's inspiring anthem, "I Believe I Can Fly"; Mary J. Blige sings "Be Without U," from her forthcoming album, The Breakthrough; Sheryl Crow performs "Always on Your Side," from her recently released Wildflower album, as well as "Every Day is a Winding Road," from her self-titled second record; The Goo Goo Dolls play "Better Days," the first single from their upcoming new studio album; Jesse McCartney sings "Beautiful Soul," the title track of his 2004 debut release; and Kelly Rowland closes the show with a rendition of the holiday standard, "Do You Hear What I Hear."
The musical performances frame several pre-taped story segments which are presented by celebrities who either have their own adoption experiences or are involved with children's issues. The stories highlight many exceptional American children and families involved in this rewarding process.
The Xuereb Family (pronounced Zer-reb; Los Angeles): In 1999, Salvator Xuereb became a mentor to a 10-year-old foster child named Justin. "When I first met Justin, I was really blown away by how optimistic he was. Although I was mentoring him in reading and math, I knew that this child needed love, needed someone he could count on," says Xuereb. Justin and his older brother, Jonathan, entered the foster care system at an early age and were living in a group home by the time they were 9 and 10 years of age, respectively. One year later, their lives took a devastating turn when Jonathan was moved to a separate group home more than an hour away. In time, Salvator received permission for Justin to visit Jonathan on day trips. Often, Salvator's twin brother, Emmanuel, joined them and soon, Emmanuel became a mentor to Jonathan, providing a way for the siblings to see one another. "Being a twin, I just felt that one brother should not live without the other," says Emmanuel Xuereb. In 2002, Salvator met his wife, Nikki, and together they adopted Justin. In 2004, Emmanuel made the decision to adopt Jonathan. Today, 15-year-old Justin and 16-year-old Jonathan know that they will never be separated again. "Justin and Jonathan have brought so much life into our lives, it's just awesome," says Salvator Xuereb.
* The Robertson Family (Cleveland, Ohio): Deanna Robertson first saw her sons, Mario and Pierre, on a local adoption broadcast. Although single and with a busy career as a criminal defense attorney, Deanna soon adopted 3-year-old Mario and his 4-year-old brother, Pierre. "I was told that they were learning delayed. I looked into their eyes, and I just didn't think the problems they had in the past would always be problems for their future," says Deanna. Today, six years after their story first aired on A Home for the Holidays, Mario has earned First in Math for his region, and is quarterback for his seventh grade football team. Older brother Pierre is an honor roll student and treasurer of his eighth grade class. "Adopting Mario and Pierre has been the best decision I ever made. I am so proud of them. They see life with such bright eyes, and [they] know that they can achieve anything," says Deanna.
* The Taylor Family: It has been a long and uncertain journey for Hector and his little sister, Jasmine. Placed in foster care at 5 and 4 years of age, respectively, they lived in 13 different foster homes over the next five years, sharing the same home only twice. "If I had any hopes that I was going to be adopted, they were very little. I thought I was going to live as an orphan without my brother forever," says Jasmine. In November 2005, Jasmine and Hector found their way home at last when Brad and Alison Taylor adopted the now 9- and 10-year-old siblings. "I know now that dreams really can come true," says Hector.
* The Bennett Family (North Carolina): In 1999, Nancy and Lynn Bennett had been married 22 years and had two biological children in college when they watched A Home for the Holidays. "We sat in tears as we listened to the little girl who said she needed a home for her siblings. We knew she was a voice for thousands, and realized in that moment that we had a lot more love to give," says Nancy. This was not the first time the Bennetts had thought about adoption. "Years before, I had a dream that we adopted two little girls," says Lynn, "and I never knew what that dream meant until we happened to see the show." In 2002, the Bennetts made Lynn's dream come true when they adopted 7-year-old Sindy and her 5-year-old sister Diana, who had entered foster care due to severe neglect. The Bennett's older children, Katie and Daniel, couldn't be happier with their new little sisters. "The best thing about having Sindy and Diana in our lives is the love that they give," says Katie. "There's just nothing that takes the place of raising your own children, and Sindy and Diana are our children," says mom Nancy.
* Children Waiting (San Diego): There are over one half million children currently in foster care in the United States. This segment gives voice to these numbers by creating an intimate portrait of children who need permanent loving homes and families.
The special is presented in association with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the Children's Action Network. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption was established in 1992 by Wendy's restaurant founder Dave Thomas, who was adopted. It is dedicated to increasing the awareness of the more than 119,000 children in the United States foster care system who have been freed for adoption. Wendy's Restaurants is a program sponsor.
The Children's Action Network was founded in 1990 by leaders in the entertainment industry 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.
A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is produced by Triage Entertainment and Goldsmith Entertainment, in association with the Children's Action Network and the Dave Thomas Foundation. Karen Mack ("One Against the Wind"), Stu Schreiberg ("The Jamie Foxx Special"), Stephen Kroopnick ("Iron Chef America: The Series") and Marilyn Seabury ("NAACP Image Awards") are the executive producers; Kimberly Steer ("Loves Me Loves Me Not") is the supervising producer. Michael Simon ("Rock Star: INXS") directed the special, which was written by Eugene Pack ("Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope").