A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS – THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY will be broadcast Friday, Dec. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Host LL COOL J will introduce inspirational stories about children adopted from foster care, and Gwen Stefani, Train and Lukas Graham will each perform. Highlights from the Grove’s annual tree-lighting ceremony, including a performance by Andy Grammer, will be featured during the special.
For the last two decades, the award-winning special has raised awareness for the hundreds of thousands of children in foster care and changed the lives of a generation of foster children. The special features uplifting stories of adoption from foster care, enhanced with performances by today’s most popular artists.
The entertainment industry’s top names have taken part in this poignant special over the past 20 years, including Maroon 5, Muhammad Ali, Candice Bergen, Justin Bieber, Mary J. Blige, Kate Capshaw, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child (Beyoncé), Kelly Clarkson, Sheryl Crow, Jamie Lee Curtis, Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres, Celine Dion, Melissa Etheridge, Rascal Flatts, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Josh Groban, Faith Hill, Dustin Hoffman, Jennifer Hudson, Enrique Iglesias, Carole King, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Adam Levine, Ricky Martin, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Katy Perry, Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo, Martin Sheen, Ed Sheeran, Martin Short, Steven Spielberg, Gwen Stefani, Rod Stewart, NSYNC (Justin Timberlake), Carrie Underwood, Bruce Willis, Henry Winkler and Stevie Wonder.
Many families that have adopted from foster care have been featured on A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS since it began. Over 90 percent of the adopted foster children featured on the show have graduated from high school and gone on to follow their dreams of college, advanced degrees and successful careers, including nursing, teaching, social work, legal counsel, business, construction and the military. Many have started happy families of their own.
Three of the stories featured on this year’s show are updates on families who were featured previously. They include:
Farmakis Family – Elkhorn, Wis. (Featured in 2009)
Minuette and younger sister, Josette, had a brutal childhood. “Growing up, it was hard because our mother was a drug addict,” says Josette. “We didn’t have food, and we were both physically abused.” Eventually taken into foster care, the sisters were separated and lived in eight different homes before they were adopted by Dan and Angie Farmakis in 2007. Currently, Josette, 25, is following her dream of becoming a nurse. “Our parents looked past the trauma we’d gone through and saw us for who we really are. It feels like I’ve always been their daughter,” she says. Minuette, 27, is living her dream of working as a social worker at the same agency that placed her and her sister with their family. “Working with kids like us in foster care is not only a privilege, it’s an honor,” she says.
Felipe and Rafael Mosqueda – Marathon, Wis. (Featured in 2002)
Brothers Felipe and Rafael were desperate to stay together and running out of time. By ages 15 and 12, the boys had lived in more than seven foster placements and were considered unadoptable. “My brother and I were on the verge of being separated, and that was the scariest thing imaginable,” says Felipe. “When we met these boys, I knew we could make such a difference in their lives, and we adopted them in March 2002,” says Erika Albrecht. Today, Felipe and Rafael are both married with children and have successful careers. “Our parents raised us with so much love. My brother and I wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for adoption,” says Felipe. “My brother and I were best man at each other’s wedding, and my wife and I have talked about adopting in the future,” says Rafael.
Oden Family – Los Angeles (Featured in 2015)
Kenneth and Evette Oden took a leap of faith and saw potential in two foster children who were born exposed to drugs. “When we first met Kyle, I remember holding him really close to my chest. He looked right in my eyes, and I just knew that he was my son,” says Evette. “About a year later, we got a phone call that there was a little girl who needed immediate placement,” says Kenneth. “The bond we felt with Kynnedy was just as strong.” Kyle, now 20, took honors classes in high school and earned an academic scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. Kynnedy, 19, is a sophomore at San Francisco State University.
The following family is being featured on the special for the first time:
Pascucci Family – Syracuse, N.Y.
“If I wasn’t adopted by my parents at 17, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” says Ethan Pascucci. “I lived my early childhood with a parent who was a drug addict. I was 9 when my stepfather was stabbed to death in the home where I slept. My journey into foster care began that night.” John Pascucci had been in Iraq for 15 months as a combat engineer. “When I would see a child waving to us at one o’clock in the morning, it made me think every child, no matter how old they are, needs the love and security of a family,” he says. He and his wife, Karen, decided to adopt from foster care. “Our original plan was to adopt a 9 to 12-year-old girl, but we fell in love with a 16-year-old boy who was 6’3”,” says John. “I was finally looking at parents who would love me for a lifetime, and that changed everything,” says Ethan. He began taking AP and honors classes and signed up for crew. He became a star rower in high school and was awarded an athletic scholarship to Syracuse University.
Currently, there are more than 438,000 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.”