Dorothy doesn't remember the crash.
She remembers waking up, upside down, to the sound of a banging noise: the jaws of life prying open the crushed metal frame of the car.
She also remembers being pushed through the emergency room doors on a gurney. But she doesn't remember someone asking if there was anyone they could call or her response: "'I'm from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,'" Dorothy says in an episode of the This Is the Gospel podcast.
Dorothy didn't know, she couldn't know, how those words would help her then and now.
But Dorothy hadn't always been able to say she was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, the first few years of her life were spent in the shadow of a "pretty well-known and pretty dangerous" biker gang in California, she shares.
Dorothy says when she was a child, her mother, Rene, belonged to that biker gang. And there was a time in Dorothy's childhood when her mother wanted to end her own life and would leave Dorothy and her brother at their grandparents for months on end.
During this time, Rene came across two sister missionaries who taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ. "And I think that was for the first time that she felt like she mattered," Dorothy says. "She didn't know about Jesus Christ. She didn't know about the gospel. She turned to what the world taught, and I think that's the only reason she went down that path. So when she learned about Jesus Christ, she became even stronger."
But after Rene was baptized, she was beaten severely by her boyfriend when he found out she was looking for a way out of the biker gang they both belonged to.
Rene then went to see her bishop at the time, who advised Rene to get herself and her children away from the gang as soon as possible.
"The rival of this biker gang in California is in Texas, and so she put a map of Texas on the wall because she's not going to find a lot of her old crew hanging out in Texas," Dorothy shares. "And so she put up a map of Texas and spun my brother around, and he pointed to Corpus Christi. And so we moved from San Diego to Corpus Christi not knowing anyone but the Church."
After the move, Rene and her two children were facing homelessness as Rene struggled to make ends meet. Out of desperation, Rene began writing checks to herself, forging her boss' signature over a period of time until she had taken close to $30,000.
But after going to the temple, Rene knew she had to make what she had done right. When she got home, she sat down, wrote a letter to her boss about the forged checks, and called the police to turn herself in.
"I think the reason she stole that money was because she was in a hard spot," Dorothy says. "But she was also stuck between the natural man in her and she went back to her worldly ways for a second and realized, 'I don't want to be like this. This isn't who I am.'"
And when Dorothy and her brother came home from school that day, they found members of the Relief Society in their living room. Rene had been arrested, but instead of placing her children in foster care, the ward took turns caring for Dorothy and her brother. A few weeks after Rene's arrest, she was released and placed on probation and was reunited with her children.
Being on probation came with its own challenges, however. Now Rene had to pay back tens of thousands of dollars while barely making ends meet after moving to Austin, Texas, for another job.
Fortunately, Dorothy and her family were welcomed into an amazing ward where Dorothy met Naomi and Kurt, Naomi being her Young Women president and Kurt being her Sunday School teacher.
"I instantly fell in love with her," Naomi says. "Super spunky, and she became kind of a staple in our home."
For years, Naomi and Kurt had struggled with infertility and failed adoptions as they tried to expand their family.
"We had kind of a plan in our head of how life should work out, and it was kind of the complete opposite," Naomi says. "Lots of money, lots of tears, lots of emotions."
"I remember we were standing beside our bed and I just held her in my arms and I'm like, 'Babe, we're fine. We have each other. Things will work out. I trust that the Lord has a plan for us. I don't know what that is; it would be nice know maybe sometimes but you don't really have to, and He's got something ready for us,'" Kurt says.
During this time, around Dorothy's 18th birthday, Rene's probation was up. Rene still owed much of the $30,000 she had stolen, and the judge told Rene that it was likely she would be sentenced to prison.
That day, Rene sat Dorothy down at their kitchen table and explained to Dorothy that she would likely spend years in prison because of her unpaid debt, leaving Dorothy behind.
Though Dorothy assured her mother that she would be okay, "I went to my closet that night and I prayed, and I said, 'Heavenly Father, my mom's going to go to jail, and I don't really have anybody,'" Dorothy says. "I was really scared."
Before her sentencing, Rene went to Kurt and Naomi and asked if they would take Dorothy in for her senior year of high school.
For Kurt and Naomi, the answer was obvious. "And we said, 'Yeah, of course,'" Kurt says. "We'll take care of her. We love Dorothy."
"We didn't bat an eye at that," Naomi adds. "We would take Dorothy in at any time."
Then, a miracle happened. At the sentencing, the judge completely cleared Rene's records, clearing her of her debt and any potential prison sentence.
"I wish you guys could have seen her," Naomi shares about Rene that day. "She was bouncing, just bouncing down the hall, and she just had this glow about her and she was so happy. And she threw her arms around me and said, 'Naomi, the judge cleared me of all my charges.' And I will remember for the rest of my life, she said, 'The Lord could take me now and I will feel like my work is done.'"
After Rene was cleared of her record, she was able to attend the temple again. After a session, she said something else to Naomi that seemed strange at the time.
"She said these words, 'It's so great to know that if something ever happened to me, that you would take care of Dorothy,'" Naomi remembers.
Not long after this conversation, Naomi received a call from one of her young women informing her that Rene and Dorothy had been in a serious car accident.
Meanwhile, Dorothy had been rushed to a hospital and was in a preoperation room when three unexpected visitors arrived. Someone had called a local bishop when Dorothy had said she was a member of the Church on her way into the emergency room.
Though this bishop usually turned his phone off on Friday nights to spend time with his wife, he had had the impression to leave it on when he received the call that a woman who belonged to the Church had been in a serious accident. And now he, his wife, and his first counselor were at the hospital with Dorothy.
"I remember him [the bishop] walking through the room, and I felt at complete peace," Dorothy says. "I didn't know anything about my mom. I was kind of in and out, but seeing him, I knew I was okay."
After the bishop gave Dorothy a blessing, she had another visitor. A police officer.
"She said, 'Honey, your mom didn't make it through the car accident,'" Dorothy says. "And I held that bishop's hand and the warmest feeling came over my body. And I knew at that moment that my Savior, I knew He was with me."
Shortly after being told her mother had passed away, Dorothy underwent surgery knowing she had no family nearby who would be there when she woke up. But at around 3 a.m., Dorothy awoke to the bishop's wife, who hadn't left Dorothy's side all night, holding her hand.
"And I think that's what the Lord would do," Dorothy says about that moment. "And I think that's what ministering is, is listening to the Spirit and being there when someone needs you."
The next morning, Naomi arrived at the hospital. Instantly, Naomi says she felt a responsibility toward Dorothy, and she knew Dorothy would be a part of her family.
Dorothery recalls: "She called Kurt, who was on a trip in Boston, and they talked about it, and she said, 'Dorothy, I talked to Kurt. We were praying, we were thinking really hard about it, and we think your mother knew,'" Dorothy says. "'I think, if you want to be a part of our family, we would love that.' And I said, 'Okay.'"
But even with the love that Dorothy had for Kurt and Naomi, there were some challenges that came with joining a new family. Dorothy was 18 and Naomi was 26, and it was difficult for both to adjust to a family dynamic.
"She never had a dad," Naomi says. "So she and Kurt were best friends from the second she walked into our house. It was a little bit of a different dynamic for her and I because I was her fun Young Women leader and then I turned into more of a motherly role."
"I almost felt like she [Naomi] was intruding," Dorothy says of that time. "But it wasn't really intruding. She was adding to what my mom was already giving. She was adding her strength and her divine to my life."
As Naomi, Kurt, and Dorothy navigated their new life together for the next few years, Dorothy made the decision to serve a mission. While teaching families about the importance of being sealed to each other while on this earth, Dorothy had a distinct impression: she needed to be sealed to Kurt and Naomi.
"I'll never forget the day that she asked us to be sealed to her as a family," Naomi says. "She told us that she had been praying about it and her mom wanted her to be sealed to us. And we always wanted that, but we didn't want to ask. We wanted it to be her decision."
Though Dorothy says the judge at the courthouse looked at the three of them a little funny when Kurt and Naomi filled out the adoption papers for a 22-year-old, the decision felt right.
And though the family connection hadn't come together automatically, something happened the day of the sealing that helped solidify a familial bond between Naomi and Dorothy.
"I longed to be a mom and I thought when I got Dorothy that it would just be automatic and it wasn't," Naomi says. "When we knelt across the altar at the temple, instant walls were coming down and there was a healing that I didn't know could happen, and that's when my dreams came true. She completed our family."
While in the sealing room, Dorothy knew that what she was doing was what her mother wanted for her.
"I knew that I was doing the right thing by being sealed to them, and I knew that my mother was there supporting me," Dorothy says. "My mom, she wanted the best for me. And she knew that going to live with Kurt and Naomi would provide everything that I needed to become better and to break the chains and to spiritually find myself."
Since the sealing, Naomi's and Dorothy's relationship has changed. Where before there was conflict, they now see their relationship with an eternal aspect.
"The Lord put two broken people and put us together to make us whole," Dorothy says. "Isn't that funny how He takes broken hearts and He mends them with other broken hearts?"
Today, Kurt and Naomi are the grandparents of Dorothy's children. Known as "Papa Kurt" and "Nona" to their three grandchildren, Kurt and Naomi now see the plan God had for their family.
"There's no doubt in my mind the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us," Kurt says. "It's going to be better than you ever thought. It's going to be better than what you had planned for yourself. We had a plan and it didn't happen and this is better."
Dorothy says she has also seen how God has been with her throughout her life, guiding her through every single step.
"He was always there, just as He was always in my mom's life," Dorothy says. "I am today, I think, even better because I have the strength of my past and my mom and I have a testimony and how to grow in the gospel because of Kurt and Naomi."
Listen to Dorothy's, Kurt's, and Naomi's story below or click here to view the show notes and transcript.