When celebrities are asked to participate each year in "A Home for the Holidays," it isn't random.
By and large, each has a connection to adoption, the theme of the annual CBS special. That's been the case for Faith Hill, Jamie Foxx, Melissa Etheridge and Kristin Chenoweth, all of whom have participated in the show in previous years ... and it's true again for the 13th annual edition that country music staple Martina McBride hosts Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Justin Bieber, Mary J. Blige, Gavin DeGraw and OneRepublic are among the other artists who perform during the hour -- a joint initiative of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, named for the Wendy's founder, and Children's Action Network -- and adoptive-parent actress Katherine Heigl and her adopted sister, Meg Heigl-Beltran, present a story of another family united through adoption.
Also on hand: singer-songwriter Christina Perri, who has "A Thousand Years" on the soundtrack of the movie "The Twilight Saga -- Breaking Dawn, Part 1," and whose half brother is an adoptee; and actress and reality show personality Denise Richards, who adopted a baby girl earlier this year to join the two daughters she has with ex-husband Charlie Sheen.
"They'd approached me because of 'A Thousand Years,' " Perri reports of her "A Home for the Holidays" involvement, "but my dad was married before he married my mom, and he had two daughters and adopted a son. Then my dad married my mom and had my brother and me, but we're one huge family."
Also known for last year's hit "Jar of Hearts," Perri was familiar with "A Home for the Holidays."
"I absolutely remember watching the show," Perri says, "and so do my parents, so it's awesome to be a part of it. It just felt so magical at the taping.
"I think the best part of the experience for me," she adds, "is knowing that the children in my segment are all going to get adopted from this. I had goose bumps the whole time. You don't really think about it in the way it's presented in this show. Half a million children are in foster care, and that's just crazy."
One more child has a home this holiday season thanks to Richards, who finds "A Home for the Holidays" to be "a very moving, emotional special. I was so honored to be a part of it. I got to introduce the story of this wonderful woman (Janet Kerin of Castle Rock, Colo.) who adopted three siblings. I don't think people are aware how many foster children there are who are families. It's a wonderful thing she did, because many times in such situations, siblings are separated."
Richards adopted the infant she named Eloise Joni -- whose middle name is that of Richards' late mother -- as summer began.
"I started the adoption process two years before she was born," Richards says. "There were many times I felt discouraged and things didn't go the way I thought they would, but I always had faith that the right baby would find us, and I just didn't give up. A lot of people think that if you're a celebrity, you get a baby right away, and that just isn't the case."
Initially, Richards wasn't sure whether to let daughters Sam and Lola in on her plans, "but it was actually a good opportunity for me to explain adoption and have them involved in the whole process. They knew it was something I wanted to keep private until the baby was born, and they were great about it."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun