- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Angels in Adoption gala was planned originally to honor more than 190 parents who have made a special effort to open their homes to adopted children. It’s a pet cause of first lady Laura Bush and sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a foster care advocacy group.

The real stars Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt, however, were hundreds of children wearing braces, Brooks Brothers suits and crinoline dresses, dining on chicken fingers, french fries, ginger ale and Shirley Temples — and staying up way past their bedtimes.

Not since Jack Valenti dined alone have so many feet not touched the floor.

Such guests included Andrey Sullivan, a freckle-faced 12-year-old from Whiting, N.J., who was born in Moscow and adopted by his American parents when he was 11 weeks old. “They found me in an orphanage,” Andrey said, gallantly offering his untouched spinach salad. “I’d like to go back to Russia one day to see where my parents came from.”

The young folk were quite naturally impressed by the grown-up scene, especially the performance in their honor by Grammy Award-winning recording artists Jars of Clay and being recognized by Margaret Bush, the sister-in-law of President and Mrs. Bush and mother of two adopted children, Marshall and Walker Bush.

When Margaret Bush was asked to attend the event on behalf of the first lady (who addressed the crowd by video), she couldn’t refuse. She is an accomplished actress who lives in Alexandria and also a longtime national advocate for adoption and foster care.

On Tuesday night, she had just come from rehearsing her new play, “The Gin Game,” to open soon at Alexandria’s Little Theater.

“I went in to audition for the part. It’s a 70-year-old woman. So I wore glasses and a gray wig, and nobody recognized me,” she said with a laugh. “Anyway, I got the part.”

Wearing a lime-green pantsuit and chunky shell necklace by local designer Meg Carter, she told the audience how she had been diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer at age 5 and had undergone surgery to remove her ovaries. When she married George Bush’s brother Marvin, both knew they wanted to adopt.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has been shuttling back and forth between Washington and flood-ravaged Louisiana, also spoke of the importance of the CCAI, which began its work five years ago and recognizes “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” She noted that some parents in the room had adopted five or more children, of all ages and from all over the globe.

Stephanie Mansfield

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