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Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 09/14/2012

Katherine Heigl, Michele Bachmann, Ne-Yo at ‘Angels in Adoption’ gala

Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley at the "Angels in Adoption" gala (Gordon Wenzel)

You know how some celebrities exist purely in the abstract? You’re vaguely aware of their fame, via magazine covers and whatnot. And then, every once in a while, one comes to Washington, and darned if they don’t blossom into an actual compelling human being.

So it was Wednesday night when the gorgeous Katherine Heigl (ex-star of “Grey’s Anatomy,” various chick flicks) and singer-songwriter husband Josh Kelley were honored at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s annual “Angels in Adoption” gala for their public advocacy in adopting their two young girls.

“People often say, ‘Your daughters are so lucky that you adopted them,’” Heigl told the crowd at the Reagan building. “That sentiment has never sat well with us. It doesn’t seem to fit right because the truth is we’re so lucky for these kids.”

Michele Bachmann, Lisa Martin and Dr. Sharon Ford (Gordon Wenzel)
A beaming Heigl and Kelley, who wed in 2007, won the night by simply sharing their story about Naleigh and Adalaide. “We’re not shy about what we do with our children — putting them out there — because we feel that we want to lead by example,” Kelley said. “We want people to realize that the need is there, and this is a fantastic way to grow a family.”

Nothing but warm feelings in this bipartisan crowd. Said Rep. Michele Bachmann, a foster mom many times over: “There is no such thing as an unadoptable child, merely unfound families.” The Republican lawmaker cozied up next to Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Heigl’s mom and her sister, Meg, who was adopted from Korea. Hip-hop star Ne-Yo, in his usual jaunty hat, was honored for his work on behalf of foster children: “I’ve always been told you are given a blessing to be a blessing.” People magazine was cited for its regular coverage of stories about adoption and foster kids.

Ne-Yo with a guest at the gala. (Gordon Wenzel)
The big hit of the evening, though, was non-famous Harold Rhodes “RJ” Sloke Jr., a foster kid turned college student and intern for Sen. Roy Blunt. He explained how a former teacher, Karen Parker, who surprised him onstage, made all the difference in his life: “Every foster child, no matter how lost they may seem to be, has the potential to do great things. . . It only takes one person to help bring about that change.” Not a dry eye in the house.

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By  |  05:00 AM ET, 09/14/2012

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