Adoption dream fulfilled

| October 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
The common thread of adoption binds together Linda Smisek, left, Elaine Harty, Becky Zwirner, Jane Jeffrey, Daria Doyle, Kim Doyle and Mike Tschimperle of St. Wenceslaus School in New Prague. Five in this group are adoptive parents, one is trying to be, and the youngest one in the group, Daria Doyle, is the adopted daughter of Kim Doyle, principal of St. Wenceslaus.  Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

The common thread of adoption binds together Linda Smisek, left, Elaine Harty, Becky Zwirner, Jane Jeffrey, Daria Doyle, Kim Doyle and Mike Tschimperle of St. Wenceslaus School in New Prague. Five in this group are adoptive parents, one is trying to be, and the youngest one in the group, Daria Doyle, is the adopted daughter of Kim Doyle, principal of St. Wenceslaus. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Kim Doyle had two desires in her life — to be a teacher and to adopt children.

“I never thought I’d ever be anything else but a teacher,” said Doyle, who has worked in education for more than three decades, 29 of those years as a school principal. She has been principal at St. Wenceslaus School in New Prague, which she attended herself, since 2007.

The adoption journey was a little more bumpy, and it included a curve ball that nearly turned her life upside down.

Most adoptive parents choose this option after their efforts to have biological children have failed.

Doyle was different. She wanted to adopt children before she was even in a relationship.

“I always wanted to adopt a child,” she said. “That was just my lifelong goal to have an adoptive family. Even when I was really young, I wanted to have an adoptive family. I wanted to have a bunch of kids that were adopted, and not have birth children. I just felt that call from very early on.”

She zeroed in on the goal while in a serious dating relationship that started when she was 30. Complications caused a delay in setting the wedding date. Finally, Doyle and her fiance, Bill Hendrickson, decided on spring of 1998.

Not knowing how long the adoption process would take, they submitted their application while still engaged. After conducting a worldwide search, they chose an orphanage in Russia, with a young girl there waiting to be adopted.

To their surprise, they were approved to adopt soon after and traveled to the orphanage in November 1997, with several months to go until their wedding date.

Doyle was ecstatic. After bringing home her 2-year-old daughter, Ksenia, she turned her attention toward her upcoming nuptials.

But, her plan slowly began to unravel. First came the hardship of having to delay the marriage for another year due to several complications. Then, during that waiting period, tragedy struck. Hendrickson died of a diabetic reaction on June 21, 1999. And, with that misfortune, Doyle became something she had never envisioned — a single mother.

She made adjustments in her career to accommodate the new role, and managed to serve as principal at two Catholic elementary schools — Blessed Trinity in Richfield and Our Lady of the Lake in Mound. She commuted from New Prague and eventually enrolled Ksenia at Blessed Trinity while she was working there.

Then, she took an amazing step that makes her a hero in the eyes of her current colleagues at St. Wenceslaus — she adopted a second child.

Not wanting to let her dream of adopting more children fade, she brought her desire before the Lord on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27) of 2000. She remembers the day partly because it was Thanksgiving, with her adding a plea for another child to her prayers of gratitude for the one she already had, and partly because it turned out to be the exact date her second adopted child, Daria, was born.

She went back to the same orphanage in Russia to get Daria, thinking that her two daughters would at least have this in common as a way of helping to build family unity.

Eventually, the principal job opened at St. Wenceslaus, and she finally was able to both live and work in her hometown. Ksenia was in seventh grade at the time and was able to finish elementary school at St. Wenceslaus. Daria came for kindergarten, and she now is in seventh grade.

In addition to the chance to be close to home and have her girls in the school where she works, Doyle has one more important benefit — four teachers on her staff who also are adoptive parents, plus one more who is working on it. Each of the four teachers — Elaine Harty, Jane Jeffrey, Linda Smisek and Mike Tschimperle — also have two children. The soon-to-be adoptive parent is Becky Zwirner, who is going through the application process with her husband, Bill.

“Knowing that they’ve all been through the process, and knowing that they’re praying for Bill and me is huge,” said Zwirner, a math teacher for fifth- through eight-graders. “It is amazing. We have such a small staff, and such a large percent have completed the adoption process.”

The school has a full-time teaching staff of 15, which means one third are adoptive parents, assuming Zwirner is successful in finding a child. That fact was celebrated at a school Mass on Sept. 24.

“We didn’t really think much of it,” Doyle said. “But then Ann Christy, our religion teacher, planned a Mass. She did an opening [reflection] of opening our hearts to others. And, she did a special tribute to all of us who had adopted children. And we looked at each other and were like, ‘Wow. Look, there’s five of us and each of us has two kids that we adopted. We did this little thing in front of the altar and it was very moving and touching.”

It’s also a strong pro-life statement, as one of the adoptive parents pointed out.

“In the news, you hear children being abused, being killed, being aborted,” Harty said. “There are other options out there, and we are examples of those options, and what a blessing [adopted children]  have been in our life, to give these children a chance.”

On top of that, the pro-life legacy forged by Doyle and her teachers will be continued by at least one of the adopted children, Doyle’s daughter Ksenia, who is a freshman at St. Mary’s University in Winona, where she plans to study education and follow in her mother’s footsteps.

“She is very much a pro-life advocate,” Doyle said of Ksenia. “She knows she could have been aborted. She’s so thankful that didn’t happen to her. I’ve seen her text messages to people she knows who have gotten pregnant. She says, ‘Whatever you do, don’t abort.’”


How adoption has enriched my life

Four teachers and principal Kim Doyle at St. Wenceslaus School in New Prague offer comments on their experiences with adoption and raising adopted children. Each of the five has two adopted children and no biological children.

Elaine Harty
Third-grade teacher (part time, after 40-plus years at the school)

“It helped me appreciate life in general. When I hear that children are murdered — they don’t want children so they abort — I have a real hard time with that. So, I look at my children and I thank them every day that they’re here with me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. They’re just a part of my life.

They are a blessing to me, and I couldn’t love them any more if they were my biological children.”

Jane Jeffrey
Second-grade teacher

“I can’t imagine this earth without either one. What a loss that would have been if they hadn’t been born.”

Linda Smisek
Teaching assistant, K-6

“It made me a mom. More than anything, that’s what I wanted to be. Finding out that I couldn’t be a [biological] mom was just absolutely terrible. We were 23 when we found out we were unable to have biological kids. So, we put our names in, and we waited and waited and waited. And, the longer we waited, the more desperately we wanted it.

Then they finally called and we met our son. And, we realized that that was our baby, no matter what. When God made me, he said, ‘You’ll be a mommy, but it’s going to take another mommy to get you there.’ That’s what I’ve always told my kids. This wasn’t my plan and it wasn’t your plan, it was God’s plan to have us come together in a different way. And, we were so fortunate to be able to adopt.”

Mike Tschimperle
Physical education teacher

“It’s made it complete for my wife and I. We got married and we couldn’t have kids. We both love kids. I’m a teacher and she was a nurse, and we took care of kids when we were in college. We babysat and we worked at a group home for three years, so we took care of young adults who were needy. It just worked out [to be able to adopt].”

Kim Doyle

“People told me, ‘You saved this little girl’s life.’ I think she [daughter Daria] actually saved my life. I have to say that. Having children just fills in the holes — the need, my need. She saved my life because she gave me a life. She gave me a life that I’ve always wanted by having her and [older daughter] Ksenia. When Daria came along, she completed the circle. So, we have a small circle of three, but it’s very complete with the three of us.”

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