Romanian children get a U.S. holiday welcome

December 13, 1992|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Picture this Christmas card: Two little boys dressed in red and green sitting side-by-side on upholstered chairs with fine china plates of fresh fruit, sticky cakes, and little sandwiches balanced on their laps.

Quite a fairy tale compared to the life the children knew only a year ago in their revolution-torn Romanian homeland -- filthy orphanages without light or heat; under-fed; deprived of the simplest medicine.

Yesterday, in the glitter of a Washington embassy, the boys speared their Christmas bounty with silver forks impervious to the mist in the eyes of grown-ups, including many from Maryland, standing by.

"Its a wonderful thing to see," said Prince George's countian Gale Stelfox. "It brings tears to your eyes."

The tears came because the little boys stuffing themselves with goodies at the Romanian Embassy -- along with more than 100 others who showed up to sing carols and meet Santa -- are the lucky ones.

They have been adopted by American families like Gale and Richard Stelfox of Mitchellville; families who gathered at the embassy so their children might mingle with others rescued from tragedy in their nation of birth.

"We already had three boys of our own, and we wanted a girl," HTC said Mr. Stelfox, a coin and jewelry dealer.

"We ended up with two girls."

In all, Americans have adopted some 3,800 Romanian children, but tens of thousands more are still left behind in orphanages.

The world learned of these children after the overthrow and execution in 1989 of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. When American television beamed pictures of their hell in rusty cribs around the world, people like the Ballute family of Bowie came forward to help.

"We knew we had room in our home for another child," said Rhonda Balutte, 30, who works in ticket sales for the Washington Bullets.

Said Perry Hall's Dreama Cavoures, who spent a month in Romania for her children: "We got a 3-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl, but I would have brought back five if I could."

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