Katie Kohnke can blow out only two of the three candles on the Family-versary cake, so she turns to best friend Emily. "Emmie, you get this one," she says. Every April friends and family gather at the Richmond, Va., home of Dave and Betsy Kohnke to celebrate the adoption of Katie, 3, in 2002 and Elise, 17 months, in 2004 from China. "We didn't just get our daughters," says Betsy, an occupational therapist. "They also got us: grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, pets—everything that comes with our family." The Kohnkes decided to adopt after suffering two miscarriages, the birth of a stillborn baby and the death of premature twins. But from such despair, new life flowered. "Family-versary is the birth of our family," says Betsy. Though the girls' birthdays are celebrated in August and May, they open presents on Family-versary day too. In turn, the girls give guests small bags of hard fruit candy. Ladybugs—Chinese adoption good-luck charms—decorate the cake, tables are laden with spring rolls and dumplings, and the house is decked with paper fans, lanterns and red ribbons. "The Chinese believe that we are connected to those who we love by an invisible red thread," Betsy wrote in a note a basket of ribbon-tied cutlery. "Keep this red ribbon to remember that Katie and Elise followed that thread to be here with us." Says Wally Edwards, Emily's dad: "When you look at the lives they might have had and the lives they have now, it's amazing."
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