Calm of ballet helped ease transition to new family, language

Emily Dore’ enjoys role with Lafayette Ballet Theatre

Herman Fuselier
The Daily Advertiser

Emily Doré is a 14-year-old with a shy smile. That smile grows wider when she talks about ballet.

Emily Doré', an adopted, special needs child from China, performs in Lafayette Ballet Theatre's production of "Snow White."

An honor student at Ascension Episcopal School, Emily was able to skip the seventh grade so she could be with students her age.

Life has left few clues that Emily was once a special-needs, foster child in the country of her birth, China. She had a congenital defect that left two holes in her heart.

Surgeons in China repaired the defect. But just before she turned 6, Emily, who spoke no English, moved to the United States. Kevin and Lynette Doré, a Lafayette couple unable to have children, had adopted her.

After nearly five years of waiting and months of paperwork, the Dorés wanted Emily.

“We saw Emily’s video and said yes right away,” said Lynette Doré.

Emily is among the 60 local dancers in Lafayette Ballet Theatre’s production of “Snow White” at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 24 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center. Choreographed by Bruce Wells and designed for audiences 12 and younger, this show is the first performance in Louisiana.

Emily will dance as a member of Snow White’s Court. The performance is not her first. She’s been in at least five LBT productions of “The Nutcracker.”

But this shy student, who also likes to watch Netflix, feels at home on stage.

“I don’t really like sports that much, because you have to run and stuff,” said Emily. “I’m afraid of a lot of things.

“I’m calm and quiet and peaceful. That’s what ballet is.”

Emily’s parents said ballet’s soothing effect helped ease her into life in America.

“The first year, I didn’t let her be in ‘Nutcracker,'” said Lynette Doré. “I wasn’t sure about the English and if she could do all the things they wanted her to do. She was very shy.

“The second year, she got a taste of the stage and I think she really blossomed from there. She enjoyed being on stage, but she’ll tell you that she didn’t.”

‘We got the phone call’

Adoption has been life’s blossom for Lynette and Kevin Doré, who didn’t become parents until they were 19 years into their marriage.

Ballerina Emily Doré, left, sits with her mother, Lynette, at their home in Lafayette. Emily performs Lafayette Ballet Theatre's production of "Snow White" March 24.

In 1990, Lynette had an ectopic pregnancy, when an embryo grows outside the uterus. Surgeons told her that she couldn’t have children.

The Dorés started hearing about China opening its doors to adoption. The Chinese government held a strict rule that families could have only one child.

The discovery led to the 2003 adoption of their first daughter, Lilly, who is now a softball player and javelin thrower at Ascension.

Shortly after Lilly arrived, the Dorés sought a sibling for her. But that adoption turned into a four-and-half year wait.

“One night in bed, (Lynette) spoke to me and said ‘Why don’t we change from a non-special needs to special needs (child)?’” said Kevin Doré. “That was in February. In April, we got the phone call.”

Nine months of paperwork ended in a parent-child match on April 21, 2009. The Dorés went to China in July to begin three weeks of face-to-face meetings with Emily.

After returning to the States with Emily, the Dorés said, Lilly excelled in her role as big sister.

“She clung to her older sister,” said Lynette Doré. “They were two peas in a pod. Whatever Lilly did, Emily would do.

“That’s how she caught on to the language. From there, my oldest daughter was in Montessori school. We sent Em to Montessori school with Lilly. I think that helped immediately.”

All in the family

The Dorés live a daily life of work, school, softball, ballet and other family activities. The ectopic pregnancy is a distant memory. “Snow White” will soon be a highlight.

The parents can’t imagine life without children who were born more than 7,000 miles away. They’re all just one family.

“In the beginning, I had the greatest fear that there wouldn’t be a connection,” said Lynette Doré. “I couldn’t possibly be a good mother. Going so far to get a child, that would be out of my realm.

“But I find doing it the first time, made it so easy to do the second time. I never look at my children and see somebody different, until somebody points out that they’re Asian.

“Other than that, they’re like any other kid. We holler at each other just the same.”

Want to go?

What: Lafayette Ballet Theatre presents "Snow White"

When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., March 24

Where: Heymann Performing Arts Center

Tickets: $13 - $27