Business brings Christmas to foster twins

The Detroit News

There were big smiles and big hugs on Christmas Eve morning when twin girls Heaven and Nevaeh Caleb, 6, had their Sunday breakfast interrupted by gift-givers from a Detroit-area business.

The twins, who have been in the care of foster mom Michelle Henry, 50, since they were just two weeks old, will be officially adopted by Henry early in the new year. But on Sunday they were "adopted" by Donna and Michelle Lewis, sisters who own Painting With A Twist studios in Detroit, Farmington and Ferndale. 

The girls are but two of the seven people who make a home at the house on the 38600 block of Lancaster in Farmington Hills, including Henry and her husband, Henry's son and his daughter, and another one of Henry's seven daughters.

The bags of gifts lifted spirits at the home -- some of them, anyway. Henry said that after the gifts were given and the media cameras left, her 10 and 13-year-old children asked why they weren't given gifts, too. Henry had to explain why the circumstances are different.

Their twins' birth mother, then 19 years old, had no housing, no money, no family and no support network -- but did have legal troubles and lost custody of the girls. Henry stepped up, and had to pick up the two-week old babies from a police station in Detroit.

"The people who worked at the station bought bottles, and diapers and toys," Henry recalled. "They fell in love with the babies at two weeks old."

Henry now raises the girls as if she were their grandmother. After adopting the twins, she expects to adopt their younger sister, Grace, 3, later. 

Sunday morning, Henry heard about the arrival of news crews before she saw them.

From right, Painting with a Twist franchise owner Michelle Lewis talks with Nevaeh and her sister, Heaven at their home in Farmington Hills.

An older daughter had arrived home and noted the vans lining the suburban street. Henry figured someone on the block had died. 

"I laid back on the couch and started watching TV, then I looked and I looked again and saw news cameras and bags of gifts," Henry said. "I wish I had make-up on, I'll tell you that. I needed make-up on."

The girls opened a small number of their gifts Sunday and planned to open the rest Christmas morning.

About 13,000 Michigan children are in foster care, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.