When I was a little child, I wanted to be an actress or a writer. But when I was 14 years old, my mother put a stop to this dream of mine. Today I am grateful to her for that.
Out of spite, I went to medical school; but I was all the time insisting that someday I would be an actress! Even while studying at the medical school and then working as a nurse, I would not give up this dream. I visited an art school, taught drama classes, and worked as a volunteer in the community center. I worked on costumes, made puppets for different performances and, in my free time, I made bulletin boards at work.
I had big plans. Why, I would start my own art school! But suddenly my dreams were destroyed because of health problems.
The doctor ordered an MRI on my brain. During that procedure I made God a promise: If the MRI results ended well, I would do whatever He wanted me to do. But, as soon as I learned from the MRI that I was okay, I quickly forgot that promise that I had given to God, and I shoved it as far back as possible into the far recesses of my mind.
The following summer I was leading a children’s camp, and I met there a director of our local foster home, who offered me a job as a foster mother. Suddenly I felt in my heart that it was time to keep that forgotten promise… And that started my new life….
I began studying at college (Mission work with children and youth in the Bible school, Martin), while I also began training for foster parenting. I often got up at four in the morning to fulfill all of my obligations.
At Christmas that same year I received two great gifts, Kevin and Luke …
Kevin was 2-1/2 years old, and Luke 11 months. Kevin didn´t talk, still wore diapers, and had outbursts of anger. Luke weighed only 12 pounds; he lay on his back and was very very sick. Both children had been abused – Luke even fought for his life in the hospital after the abuse by someone in his family who had thrown him against the wall because he had been crying…
We spent 16 months together. It was hard and beautiful at the same time. I had become a temporary mother of two gypsy boys. The first night I sat near the beds of these two sleeping children, looking at them and wondering whether I could handle it… I was 22 years old and suddenly I had the responsibility for two tiny lives.
Suddenly I was responsible for their breakfast, lunch, dinner, school, reading, work, laundry, or trying to soothe them when they were ill or having bad dreams–all while spending long hours on my own studies during the nights. Well, I learned a lot about what was really important– and also a great deal of holy patience!
My biggest joy was when we went to the Department of Neurology at the hospital in Kežmarok for a routine check-up for the boys. Their doctor noted Lukáš´s impressive progress. Whenever we would arrive at the hospital’s Pediatric Department, the doctor would call all her colleagues to look at Lukáš´s good growth and how well he was doing. The doctor said she would like to move all the children to my flat! For me, her words were the biggest reward.
On my 23rd birthday Lukáš took his first steps. That same day my good friend and her brother came to visit us. Today my good friend is also my sister-in-law☺.
It was difficult to build a new relationship with this special man, while taking care of two small children. We could never have a normal “date”. And the truth is that we both wanted us to be a family of four! But my boys had expected something else… they naturally wanted us to become their legal, adoptive parents. Letting them go was very difficult for me, one of the most difficult times in my life. No longer are we their mum and dad, only their “aunt” and “uncle”. I´m very happy for these two boys for they now have fantastic people around them and a nice and blessed family.
Shortly after the boys left, little Jenny came to us. She was 5 months and was very sick. At that time I also found out I was pregnant with our first biological child.
Soon I was surprised by severe pain in my lower abdomen, and I started to bleed very early in my pregnancy. Fortunately our baby was all right. The biggest support to me at that time was my husband´s father and mother. They became a real mum and dad to me. Although I had come from a broken family, I could finally experience how life goes with an ordinary family.
Our wedding day was the most beautiful day – all “our” children were with us: Kevin, Luke, Jenny, and the baby in my belly.
Because, during my first pregnancy I had had health problems, I could not provide adequate care of little Jenny. We had to give her to a different foster family, who took care of her. We miss her still. Today I continue to wonder if I could have possibly kept Jenny with us. I constantly think that perhaps I failed her.
Oh, first time pregnant
The birth of our first child lasted three hours. It was complicated but, thanks be to God, our daughter Lilian (Lili) was safely born on the 12th of December, 2009. From the first moment of her birth, our lives changed. I became a real mother from Lili’s first breath. I could see how she depended on me from her very first seconds of life and, therefore, I was better able to understand how Kevin, Luke, and Jenny had felt through their foster family experience with Luke and me.
Clearly the birth of our daughter Lili brought us indescribable joy. But we still missed the other foster children. We still viewed their photos, videos, remembering what we had survived. We still reflected on little Lukáš´s funny first words, on Kevin’s witty sayings, or Jenny´s funny baby faces. Sometimes I still wake up in the middle of the night because I am dreaming about all my children. Once I was their mom, and I will stay their mum forever.
Second baby on the way
Lili was fourteen months old when I found myself pregnant again. When my doctor asked me if we had twins in our family history, it was pretty clear to me what was coming. I could only sigh–deeply! In my 9th week of pregnancy one baby was slightly smaller; eventually only one baby was visible. (Doctors called it ‘vanishing twin syndrome’.). At four in the afternoon on the day of my second child´s birth, my husband Luke decided to go to the hospital because “he didn’t want to just watch on the internet how he could help his wife give birth. He wanted to be present!”☺. About 8:20pm that evening our daughter Isabel was born. And so began the cycle around my two princesses.
I wanted to be the perfect mom with everything tidy, clean… But, I realized very quickly that it probably would not go so easily. Fortunately, we were rescued by two miracles: one is called Spievankovo (“a land made from many songs”, in the Slovak language); the second miracle was a little elf named Wow. Spievankovo and elf Wow, battery-operated, mesmerized our two children so that they went into “sleep mode” and were able to sit quietly one whole hour and watch this “world of fantasy”.
I liked this beautiful and simple idea! Suddenly, I picked up on this concept as something that I would also love to do as my job!
Isabela was one year old and Lili was 3 when I saw on the internet a poster advertising a play at the ‘Bambino Pediatric Center’ – the story of the Gingerbread House. “Hooray,” I thought. We went to the ‘Bambino Pediatric Center’ to see this performance. We watched as two volunteers presented a story using pantomime with two dolls and an audio tape. Their effort was touching, but something was missing here… Soon I had become a member of the ‘Bambino Pediatric Center’ where I began teaching a dancing course and where I directed my first Children’s Day.
On the way to this event the idea for “Dorothy from Fidorkovo” (an imaginary country) was conceived.
Fidorkovo’s landscape is pink and children are always happy. The streets are named after flowers and people’s names are vegetables or fruit. In school, instead of learning math, children learn how to tie their shoe laces and how to button up their clothing and zip their coats. They read fairy tales and sing from morning to evening. Dressed in the costume of a little girl – Dorothy from Fidorkovo – I try to engage children and take them into an imaginary world through interactive theater performances.
And that’s how Dorothy from Fidorkovo began to supervise children’s events, reading and acting out stories not only from Fidorkovo but from the classic fairy tales, as well. She likes it very much!
My dream comes true. Dorothy has met a lot of children…
The children now welcome me and look forward to seeing me again. When I am out and about in the community, they recognize me as well. They do not have the opportunity to experience a real theater, so their immediate reactions when they see ‘Dorothy from Fidorkovo’ in person, are humorous and amazing.
And what are my own girls saying about this? I can answer that question with two stories. For example, after my very first performance, I said to the audience of children: “So, little children, Dorothy says goodbye to you. It’s time for her to return to her Fidorkovo!” And from the very back row of the audience I saw my Lili crying and saying: “Mummmm, please do not go to Fidorkovo! I need you here next to me.”
Or another story: I sometimes come home right from the performance, even in costume, to turn on the washing machine and heat our lunch at the same time. Once I heard tiny Isabel´s voice shouting at me: “Hey, Dorothy from the make-believe land of Fidorkovo … I need to pee!”
I have come a long way.
Many people have helped me a lot and, yes, even a few have hurt me along the way. But, thanks to them all, for each one has helped me to ‘hang in there’ and to grow stronger. For sure, however, my husband is still my biggest support! He had found me when I was not even looking for anyone, when I was a single mom of two gypsy boys. He carried little Jenny in his arms when I couldn´t do it because of my health. He stood next to me, holding my hand through the births of both our children. He tenderly cared for me when I had high fever and inflammation. He took care of our children when I was in the hospital. He is, without a doubt, the most loyal fan of Dorothy.
Lenka Zemčáková, alias Dorothy from Fidorkovo, studied Mission work with children and youth in the Bible School in Martin, Slovakia. When she was 22 years old, while still a Bible School student in Martin, she became a foster parent for two gypsy boys. Later she married Luke. She and her husband were then foster parents of three children – Kevin, Lukáš and Jenny. After this ministry God gave them their own family…
Thank you for your answers!