Life for Andy and Tania Young had been relatively simple; Tania took care of their two children, Andy worked as a high school teacher, and the family was active in the Gospel. They were residing in Saratoga Springs, Utah and desired to grow their family, but those hopes seemed futile as they struggled with fertility issues. They strived to understand and follow the Lord’s plan for them and listen to the promptings of the Spirit, but their willingness to be obedient was put to the test when Tania received a prompting that would fundamentally change their lives forever.
Tania was taking her six-year-old son Seth to the dentist when she heard a young boy crying in the children’s treatment room. Tania asked the dental assistant if the child was ok, to which the response was that the young boy was an orphan from Latvia who was getting his cavities cleaned for the first time. “My heart just went out to him,” Tania recalls “I said a prayer for him and for his host mom. I just prayed that he would feel comfort and that she would be able to comfort him.”
Once Seth’s appointment was finished, the Youngs were leaving when Tania noticed three young children talking quietly to each other in Russian. Because of Tania’s Russian background, she was immediately interested in the children. Before leaving, Tania asked the receptionist where the four children had come from. She then learned that the children—all of them orphans—were from Latvia and were being hosted by a family living in Alpine. Tania said another silent prayer, hoping for the well-being of the children and left the building.
“I just felt the spirit constrain me and I couldn’t take a step forward,” says Tania “I was in the parking lot and Seth just said ‘mommy what are you doing’. I was fighting with the Spirit, I was fighting with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost was saying: ‘Go back and talk to them.” And I was arguing: ‘I don’t know if I can remember my Russian.’ And the Holy Ghost kept urging: ‘go say anything’ and I was thinking ‘this is so embarrassing’, but finally when I relented and I turned back around, it was like I was released.”
Tania and Seth then went back inside and Tania introduced herself to the children in Russian. The three children immediately became very excited and began talking rapidly in Russian to Tania. Though Tania could not talk a great amount to the children, Tania remembers their faces lighting up when Tania began communicating to them in Russian. Tania also felt an immediate connection to Melanta, age 16, and recalls: “I just felt her spirit, felt this connection to this total stranger. I just felt how beautiful her soul was.”
When Tania left the dentist’s office, she knew that somehow, those children were supposed to be a part of her family. Even though the decision to adopt was something the Youngs had discussed, the decision to adopt four children was something they hadn’t considered. Tania returned home later that day and tearfully began to recount the experience she had had in the dentist’s office with Andy. “I came home and I was crying on Andy’s shoulder and I was saying that I think these children are supposed to be in our family. He didn’t turn around and say ‘are you crazy,’ but he actually listened to me and maybe we were feeling the spirit but we agreed to do a little research.”
The Youngs decided to reach out to the children’s current host family, and invited the host family along with Melanta and her three siblings, 11-year-old Edvins, 9-year-old Andrejs, and 7-year-old Daniela to their local community pool in order to get to know the children and to receive confirmation on Tania’s prompting on adoption. It was during that time that the Youngs learned about the children’s past. The children were all born in Latvia into an abusive home, where their father had beaten them. It ultimately resulted in one of the children being hospitalized. Melanta went to the police, which resulted in their liberation from their abusive father, but caused the children to be separated from each other and put into three different foster families.
The children were eventually placed into New Horizons, a nondenominational orphan hosting program that gave orphans an experience in America for a few weeks. New Horizons’ specific goals are to provide children with an experience in a real, loving family. The children that go through New Horizons are children between seven to eighteen-years-old and their chances of being adopted are slim due to their age. These children are hosted in America for four to five weeks and are taught English, life-skills, and are also introduced to Christ. The families are blessed with a missionary experience in their homes.
So, the children traveled to America and were placed into a host family and met the Youngs towards the end of their visit. The couple had decided to host the kids during Christmas, but as they spent more time with the children, they knew that adoption was the right step for their family. “Hosting costs about $13,000 and hosting isn’t any gateway to adopting and so paying $13,000 to host and another $40,000 to adopt, we decided we might as well just adopt them.”
When Melanta, the oldest child, learned that the Youngs desired to adopt them, she told them that she did not want to be adopted without her younger brother, 13-year-old Lauris, who was still in Latvia. The Youngs to this point, were unaware that there was a fifth child and now had to rethink if adoption was going to be possible.
“When we found out about the fifth child, we had already prepared our house. We have one bedroom downstairs and there were two beds down there and another bedroom had a set of bunk beds and so we were full. But when we found out about the fifth, we were wondering how we were going to make room for another person…It just so happened that one of the bunk beds that we had, had a trundle bed underneath it that you could buy, relatively inexpensively, and it could fit right under the bed, and problem was solved. We just figured it out.” The Young’s attitude quickly turned from doubt to diligence, knowing the Lord would bless them in their efforts to give these children a secure, loving home.
Although the Youngs have already been through a long process, they still have a long way to go. Before gaining full custody of the children, the Youngs are required to spend a month living in Latvia with the children in order for social workers to see how they interact with the kids and how they all function as a family. That process is called a home study, but is just one part of the adoption process. After spending a month living abroad in Latvia, the Youngs will return home—without the children—and wait for an orphan court date which will ultimately decide whether or not the children will become a part of the Young’s family. The Youngs are hoping to have full custody of all five children by November, but because the number of children they want to adopt is larger than usual, the process could take much longer.
Though the process is grueling, Tania and Andy have seen a bounty of miracles. From anonymous monetary donations from neighbors and even complete strangers, to friends donating four brand new mattresses to accommodate the children; the miracles they have seen continue even now. Andy, a Volkswagen enthusiast, has been working on restoring an old Volkswagen in order to sell it to continue to fund the adoption.
“I’m a Volkswagen addict. When I finish it, I’m just going sell and put money towards the adoption. I’ve told a lot of my friends I’m going fix this car up and sell it to help fund the adoption. A lot of people have come out and supported like offering to do the bodywork or giving some parts or one guy offered to paint the car for me. It’s been a chance to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally offer service like that. It helps other people see that there are still people in the world who are willing to sacrifice for others. It’s scary and it’s going to be a sacrifice.” Even though the Youngs realize how much they are going to have to sacrifice, their eagerness to give these children a home overpowers any obstacle that stands in their way.
The Young’s faith throughout this whole experience has been unwavering. From the very first encounter Tania had with the children, to making the decision to adopt, the Youngs have been steadfast in their decision, never doubting that the Lord would move mountains in order for these children to become a part of the Young family. Though the roadblocks in the Young’s journey have been extensive such as monetary worries, relocating to a foreign country, and above all, doubling the amount of people in their family, the Young’s have faced it all with unwavering faith, love, and hope, never doubting the Lord would make a miracle happen. “We believe in miracles. There’s this huge mountain in front of us and we were thinking, ‘how are we going to move this mountain?’ But the Lord can move mountains.”
The mountains in front of the Youngs seem to be endless, but one thing keeps them moving forward: “[These kids are] going to get the gospel. And that’s just gold. The gospel and eternal family—a forever family. That’s gold.” Andy stated. For the Youngs to have the chance to give these hurt children the power of the gospel is something they are very excited for. Though the children have already heard about the gospel, their exposure to gospel principles has been small.
The host family that were fostering the children were LDS as well, but the children still had trouble adapting to the principles. The couple had been prayerfully asking the Lord what they could do in order to help expose the children to the gospel in a way that was comfortable. In answer to their prayers, the couple decided to purchase gospel materials—CTR rings, personal progress manuals, Books of Mormon, and Duty to God manuals—in Russian in order to help the children become familiar with the Gospel on their own terms.
Though the children have had a difficult life, the Youngs are hoping that the healing power of the gospel will help the children realize that life is still good. “My concern more, is for the older ones,” Andy stated. “Considering the difficult life they’ve had up to this point, I hope that all this that’s happening [the adoption] helps them understand that God does exist and that there is a plan. And in a long round-about way, this is where they’re supposed to be. Whatever had to happen, happened but through this trial they learned that this is where they were supposed to be and that sometimes bad things happen to good people, but so do the good things.” Helping the children realize that the Lord does have a plan for them and that His love is something that is eternal and constant, is an understanding that the Youngs are excited to give to the children.
Both Tania and Andy expressed gratitude for the overwhelming amount of support that the Lord has given them. Tania doesn’t regret any part of acting on the prompting that she felt that day in the dentist’s office though at the time, the Youngs were unsure of where the process was going to lead them. Tania reflects: “If you’re listening to the spirit and listening to the promptings, especially when it’s major like this, it’s for your good, even if it’s going be hard.” Andy’s feelings are similar to Tania’s: “There’s no wrong to this, we know it’s the right decision, but it’s difficult, and we try to figure it out and everything will fall into place. We’re not going to be living in a mansion, we’re going to be pretty humble, but we can give them is something that they’re lacking which is stability and a loving home. Ultimately, that’s what’s going matter most in the end.”
Tania and Andy’s willingness to follow a prompting that seemed out of their reach, has led them to five, beautiful, happy, blue-eyed children from Latvia. Through their attentiveness to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, Tania and Andy and their two children have created a stable home, centered on the gospel of Christ, for five children who have not known that kind of love before.
The couple are hoping to have full custody of the children by November but still have an extensive journey ahead of them even when the children are legally a part of the Young family. The couple has set up a fundraising site at www.gofundme.com/adopt4love. Any donations are greatly appreciated by the Young family.