The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 11, 1997 · Page 13
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 13

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Salina, Kansas
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Sunday, May 11, 1997
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Page 13
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SUNDAY MAY 11, 1997 THE SAUNA JOURNAL Life VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES / B5 ALMANAC / B7 CROSSWORD / B8 Meet most of the new Malavoltl family outside their home In Rockford, III. Front from left: Al Malavoltl, Jacqueline, Juan Pablo and Kenya held by Rose Malavoltl. Center row: Nicole, Rachel, Gabriel, Edgar and Noah (partially blocked). Back row: Wendy and Aaron. Two of the children the Malavoltls are adopting, Eric and Evelyn, aren't pictured. a moth An Illinois family makes dying mom's dream come true — eight kids will stay together By SHARON COHEN The Associated Press Photos by The Associated Press Rose Malavoltl watches as Kenya, 20 months, tries to figure out how to put on her shirt. Kenya is the youngest of eight children who are being adopted by Rose and Al Malavoltl after the couple learned the children's natural mother, a Texas resident, was dying of cancer. EJtie MOW'S MalauolH /^Here's a primer for the -;MalavoW household: .Rose and Al have four -bWoojcaJ children: Noah, 21, V-^and Aaron, 19 — both of . • iwhom are In college — '-Rachel, 16, and Gabriel, 8. tQThey plan to adopt eight of i'Blanca Enriquez's nine Children: Eric, 17, Wendy, 14, V^Ntooto, 10, Evelyn, 8, Edgar, A ?u7, Juan Pablo, 5, Jacqueline, ;cd, and Kenya, 19 months. Her oldest daughter, Erica, is -:0nce the adoption is final, - me Malavoltis irrtend for the •children to use their family ' Juan Pablo, 5, (right) lets out a big yell this spring as he plays on a trampoline at his new home. With Juan Pablo are Gabriel (left), Nicole, Edgar and Wendy (center). In the far back right is Jacqueline. ROCKFORD, 111. —When the moment came, Rose Malavolti crouched beside the dying woman, clutched her wrist, searched her eyes and waited for the words, mother to mother. They were strangers, these two women. They had never shared a meal, never seen each other outside the crowded hospital room, never even spoken to one another in the same language. They had met just one day earlier when Rose flew to Laredo, Texas, from her Illinois home. Now, it was time for the question. Blanca Enriquez was propped up in her bed, her face weary, her bony frame weakened by the cancer that had snaked through her stomach like a lethal vine. In her final months, she had made a request — actually, it was more of a plea. She wanted her eight children to remain together after her death. And here were Rose Malavolti and her husband, Al, who had come more than 1,000 miles, eager to adopt them. But first, the dying mother, just 38 years old, had to know one thing. She asked the question in Spanish, her voice breaking: "Will you love my children?" Shaking trees of good will In the end, when Blanca Enriquez's time on earth could be measured on a few pages of a calendar, that plea became everything to her: She wanted her youngest eight children to grow up together, to share their lives as one family, from 19-month-old Kenya to 17-year-old Eric. Her oldest daughter was married, but she knew the others still needed someone to tend to them, to teach them, to treasure them. It was a mother's wish, confided to another mother, who set out to make it happen. Esther Firova is the kind of person who's always shaking trees to do some good, whether it's raising money for the Little League, the Special Olympics or a homeless person who can't pay a utility bill. So when the principal at her sons' Catholic school asked her last fall if she'd bring laundry detergent to a mother of nine with terminal cancer, Esther, being Esther, wasn't about to have a hello-goodbye-here's-your-soap kind of visit. "It was a mission that we didn't realize was going to be a mission," the mother of five says with a smile. "I couldn't let go." She befriended Blanca Enriquez, remembering her own despair many years ago when her mother was helpless, dying of cancer. And she gently broached the sensitive subject: the children. Blanca's response was measured in sobs. "There were so many tears, I don't know where they came from," Esther says. Yes, the distraught mother said, someone was working to place her children, but no one could take all eight. So Esther tried to calm her, asking: "What is it that would make YOU happy?" "I don't want them to be separated," Blanca replied. Esther started simply, with the most immediate task: giving the family one final holiday season together. She arranged a special Thanksgiving dinner, then lobbied Laredo's business community to fill a long Christmas wish list for the family. Her appeal spread like a chain letter of mercy into Catholic schools, homes, banks, a grocery store. Folks began phoning Blanca, inquiring about the possibility of adopting some of the children. Her response was terror, laced with anger. "She said, 'My kids are not animals! They're human beings. I don't give one here and there!' " Esther recalls. "I'd just hold her and tell her, 'People don't mean harm.... We can't get mad at people caring.' " There was talk of placing the five youngest in a children's home. Then along came David Teran, a San Antonio promotions salesman who read the Christmas flier while visiting Laredo's convention bureau. "There's a family in our community with tremendous needs," it declared. "Their mother is terminally ill and there is no father present and no source of income." Teran handed over $20, but that seemed too easy. So he stopped by to offer Blanca spiritual support, and they soon became fast friends. He visited often, bringing footballs and soccer balls for the children, who'd squeal "David!" and line up to be hugged when they saw him. He drove his wife and three kids down to meet them. And he asked his mother to send her Christmas gift to his family — money to upgrade their computer — to Blanca and her children instead. 'We'll take them' Then, in the funny way fate has, something magical took place. Far, far away, in Illinois, a couple with four children had been trying for some time to adopt three Mexican siblings. They hired a translator to help with the documents — Teran's mother, who lives in Indiana. Please, the prospective mother said during one of their phone conversations, pray for the adoption. Certainly, Margaret Teran said. But in return, she asked her to pray for Blanca's children, who soon would be motherless and had to stay together. ~~ See WISH, Page B6 T RELATIONSHIPS Hey weight police, don't monitor what your mate eats DORIS WILD HELMERING St. Louis • Post-Dispatch Harping won't keep your spouse alive; try to set a good example instead Is your mate overweight? Do you try to monitor what your mate eats? If so, you're probably caught in a not-so- nice power struggle. A woman told me that she had bought a chocolate cake but needed to hide it so her husband wouldn't eat it. As she's talking, I'm thinking, "The guy's almost 50. He should be the master of his food intake. Her telling him what to eat is not going to make him a happy camper. He's going to resent it. She's also putting herself in the bad- guy category because when she directs her husband what to eat and not eat, he feels resentful." When given this kind of feedback, many women respond, "Yes, but I don't want him dying on me because he has clogged arteries and is overweight." What I say: "I doubt if your harping is going to keep your husband alive. Besides, you're not with him every waking hour. If he wants to eat or overeat, he will. He'll just do it behind your back. In policing one's mate, you become the nag while your mate becomes the sneak. Ridiculous!" If your mate is overweight or has a health problem and should not be eating certain foods, it's up to your mate to restrict his diet. The best way you can help is to have healthy food in the house and provide a good example by healthy eating yourself. Here's another frequent weight issue. A woman's angry because her husband wants her to lose weight. She's put on 60 pounds in the last four years and he no longer finds her attractive. She is angry and asks if it's fair for him to expect that she lose weight. Gaining or losing weight has nothing to do with fairness. If your mate finds you unattractive because of the extra pounds, and you want to be attractive to him or her, then it's important to lose the weight. Notice teen's good qualities What about the father who's unhappy with his teenage daughter about her weight? He should stay away from the weight issue except to provide good role-modeling by eating healthily. Teenagers who are overweight are painfully aware of the fact. Comments such as, "I thought you were watching your weight," or "You'd really be beautiful if only . . ." do not serve either parent or child. You also don't want to chip away at the already fluctuating self-esteem that many teenagers have. Instead, focus on your child's attributes and good qualities and work hard to look beyond her weight. Doris Wild Helmering is a psychotherapist and author. Her newest book, "Being OK Just Isn't Enough: The Power of Self-Discovery," is available by calling, 1-800-444-2524. SUGGESTIONS? CALL SHERIDA WARNER, LIFE EDITOR, AT (913) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sjnews®saljournal.com

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