CBS special focuses on adoption

There’s no better example of television’s ability to change lives than CBS’ annual special “A Home for the Holidays,” set to air Dec. 22.

The hourlong musical program unabashedly tugs on viewers’ heart strings to raise awareness of the nearly 500,000 children in the U.S. in need of adoption. That includes more than 100,000 kids living in foster care.

Now in its 12th year, the special was the brainchild of the Dave Thomas Foundation and the Children’s Action Network, founded by bizzers in the early 1990s, as part of their efforts to help move children out of foster care into permanent homes. Agencies associated with the “Home” specials say they’ve helped spur the adoptions of about 20,000 children to date.

“Home” mixes musical performances with appeals from celebs and testimonials from families who have adopted, including some who were inspired to do so after watching past specials. This year’s show, which tapes in Hollywood on Tuesday evening, includes Katy Perry, Melissa Etheridge, Maroon 5, Ricky Martin and Nelly.

The small studio audience is made up largely of kids in need of adoption and families with adopted children. The atmosphere is incredibly emotional, especially for the performers.

“We’ve had several occasions in the last few years where artists break down and need a moment to regroup before they can come back and finish the take,” says Jack Sussman, CBS’ exec veep of specials, music and live events. “A show like this shows you the power of network TV. … We’ve never had anyone (perform) on the show who hasn’t said, ‘When can I come back?’ ” — Cynthia Littleton

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