9: Behind the Scenes - The Moli Family
Ashley and Alo Moli always imagined themselves with a large family but struggled with devastating infertility. Brittany and her 5 siblings prayed every night in their group foster home for parents who could love and care for them. A miraculous phone call from Alo’s brother set them all on a surprising path that showed them how God has been and always would be working behind the scenes of our pain to bring us joy.
KARYN LAY: Welcome to This is the Gospel, an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay.
Today's story is really nothing short of miraculous. Last year, when Alo Moli used 140 characters at a time to tweet the unexpected blessing of how his family came to be, he and his wife, Ashley, had no idea that Twitter thread would be picked up by several media outlets including The Today Show and LDS Living. The subsequent video of their experience and testimony has now reached over 2 million people across continents. Today we get to share the rest of the story from the perspectives of Alo and Ashley as well as their adopted daughter, Brittany. As you hear the surprising ways that their lives were intertwined, you'll see that it was surely all part of a loving father in heaven's plan. The story starts with Brittany.
BRITTANY: So I lived with my biological parents for the first 16 years of my life. I was the caregiver for pretty much all of the five siblings from the time I was 12. When my little brother JT was born, I was always the one that they came to, to give them food, to change his diaper, to be his like, Mom, I guess when I was 12. And then I remember when I was 15, my other little brother Ty was born and that's when it kind of like got kicked up a notch. But I was 15, I mean, I was in high school, I was doing all this motherly stuff that got put on me because my biological parents were, I guess, too busy to take care of them.
I was very verbally abused by both of my parents and it was rough for me to create a relationship with them. I always felt like I wasn't really loved by them. It was rough to talk to them, I always kept my distance, but I always wanted to be approved by them. So I always tried so hard in school to impress them, to get good grades, but it just never really was enough. They always had too high of standards for me that I just couldn't keep up with. So it was very, very rough for me, as a teenager, to not have anyone to really talk to, or to really feel loved by their parents. Because when you're in high school, you see everyone in high school like has their mom and dad, or at least like one of their parents, that they love or that love them back and I just never really felt that.
ASHLEY: I was suffering from cysts and severe, severe pelvic pain. And I was in the hospital eight or nine times within the first year and a half we were married with cysts rupturing and surgeries and all kinds of stuff to try and get that under control.
ALO: You know, we're taught, we're just always taught in the gospel, if you do what the Lord asks you to do, then, you know, he'll bless you. So when they first told us that we're going to have an extremely hard time, you know, it's hard to take in at first. Especially for, you know, for Ashley because he was just wanting children and she wanted children right away, and herr time was getting pretty short. You know, there's times where, you know, as a husband you, at two o'clock in the morning and turn over and, you know, just hearing your wife cry. She would turn over to me and just apologize. Just like, "I'm sorry, I can't give you children. You know, it's my fault that we can't have kids."
Just saying everything's gonna be okay wasn't enough. And so, do I give another blessing? Do we pay more tithing? Do we give more generous offerings? So yeah, during that time, yeah our faith was shaken a little bit, no, actually have shaken a lot. You just never know, just not knowing what's going to happen next. So you don't have a plan for something like that, not having children, and then seeing if God is hearing your prayers, if ever. You sometimes wonder if he's even listening.
BRITTANY: I remember on March 5, 2015, there was a knock at the door. And I answered it, and there was two detectives and a police officer out there, and they were wanting my biological dad. I just remember like going back downstairs because I didn't want to be in the mess of all that. So I went back downstairs and my little brother, Nick, he came down he said, "Mom's getting arrested." I was like, what the freak? So I went upstairs and she was gone and the police officers were leaving, and then about 30 minutes later, they came back and they took my biological dad. And then me and my other five siblings, we were being taken to the Christmas box house.
So at the beginning, I wanted to go back to my parents so bad, like, I remember like writing in a journal like, "Oh, this is like the second day in the Christmas box house. Like hopefully I'll see my parents soon." And I remember like getting a voicemail from my biological dad and he was just like, so worried about himself like, "Hi," like, "I'm so worried like, I need you to call like so and so". And it was like one of his attorneys or something. He was like, I need to get out of here and I was just like, oh my gosh. And that was like, kind of the moment, because I was at the Christmas box house for about a week, and that was like the moment that I was like, I don't know if I want to see you.
But in the Christmas box house, that is when I definitely turn to God. I did grow up LDS, I was, we were very inactive though. We didn't go to church, we didn't do anything church-related. So when I got to the Christmas box house, that was when I decided to turn to God to see if he was real, because I had my doubts. So I just remember praying non-stop. I remember reading some Ensign's, writing in my journals, just trying to gain that light in my life. I was just praying that we would, me and my siblings would stay together, that heavenly father would guide us to a loving family. I was just praying that he would hear my cries, and he would listen.
ASHLEY: Originally, we wanted to have biological children and then adopt later down the road. We just thought we would have our own first. And then when we weren't getting pregnant and had started fertility treatments and still weren't getting pregnant, I went to my husband and said, why don't we adopt first? Maybe there's kids out here that need us more than ours do right now. And at first, he was opposed to it.
ALO: Yeah, I was very against it. And I think, more so, it was because I was questioning my abilities to become a father immediately.
ASHLEY: So I said, well, let's just pray about it. So we prayed about it, we went to the temple, and a week after we got the answer that we would adopt, his brother called and said, You know, "Hey, we have three kids that need a home desperately. Call your wife and talk to her."
ALO: So my, my brother, how he plays a role in this, is he works for a foster placement agency.
ASHLEY: He called me and I said, okay, you know, all right, like, let's do it, you know. And he called his brother back to let them know and his brother said, "Sorry, bro, there's actually six. So we can either split them up or you can take them and you know, we know that you and ash can do it." So he called me back and he said, I don't believe this like the three turned into six. And I was like, "Okay, well, let's do it." And he's like, what? And I said, you know, "I'm one of the oldest of 13, there's no way that I could be comfortable and not have anxiety having my little brothers and sisters go somewhere where I couldn't watch them." And I knew, I knew that Brittany was the caregiver. And she was the one taking care of, you know, the little ones that were 16 years, 15 years younger than her and I have a brother that age. So I said we either take them all, or we don't take any. I can't make that decision, to split a family up like that. So Alo said, okay, I'm going with it. And he called his brother and said, "We'll take them all.
BRITTANY: Monday at the Christmas box house, they came to me and they said that they have this couple that is willing to take all six of us. And they asked if I would be interested in meeting them. And I said yes. I said, "Yeah, let's meet them. Let's see where this goes." And then a few days later, that's when we met Alo and Ashley. I didn't know what it was gonna lead to, I didn't know if they were going to be our foster parents or they were just there wanting to meet us.
When we first met them, it was really overwhelming, because I wasn't expecting them to be so young. When you think of like foster parents, like you think of them being like older, like they have, like other children, you know, but they were newlyweds, they were married for like a year and a half. But I knew that I wanted to know more about them, like watching them communicate with my other siblings, because they have cognitive disabilities, two of them have autism now, and it's hard to communicate with them at first. But with them, like, they instantly like caught on to like everything that they said. So that was when I was like oh my gosh, like this could be like some real stuff. And when I found out that they were going to be, that we were going to be moving in with them, I was just so excited that we would have parents that would help my siblings. The transition was pretty difficult, because I was the caregiver. They didn't want me to be the caregiver anymore, they wanted me to be a teenager. I was happy and I was like confused because I didn't really know how to be a teenager because the last four years of my life, I didn't know what that was.
Ashley: Well, in the beginning, it was rough. We were told, oh, they have some special needs, but you'll be fine. We had no idea the special needs and what went into it. And in fact, my little one, at the time no one knew his disability. And he actually screamed, if he was awake, he was screaming bloody murder, the first 10 months,the first 10 months we had him. And I remember saying, "I prayed for a baby. Why are you sending me a child that won't stop screaming? I don't understand what what did I do?" You know and we would, I would hold onto that and pray every day like, "Please help me to not be upset that screaming won't stop. And please help me to not be upset that I sleep for two hours at a time. Like, please help me to have the energy." And I had to hold on to being able to pray every day because otherwise, I wouldn't have made it. I had to hold on to my faith, I had to talk with my husband, I had to pray and I had to take different steps to be able to say, okay, if I'm going to lose it right now, we have to do something different, something has to change. I could see the progress when I would change something and I was like, okay, we can do this. We can get through the day and that's all, each day we got through it.
BRITTANY: Along the way, there were some mistakes trying to fit in, find the right crowd. And there were some mistakes that my parents found out about and that just like led me to thoughts that they didn't want to adopt me anymore, they didn't want me to be with them anymore. They just talked me through it and they, overall, were just like, we're here for you, we're going to be fighting for you, we're not gonna give up on you. And that was the biggest thing for me because I always felt like I was never enough for people to fight for me. And Alo and Ashley definitely showed me that I was enough, and that they were gonna fight for me. They were going to teach me how to be good, how to stand up for myself. And they showed me that they were also going to be my cheerleaders throughout the whole way. I just wanted them to be my forever parents.
ALO: It was probably a couple months after we had taken them in. I was upstairs just getting ready. We were getting ready for church, actually. And I was just buttoning up my shirt and about to put on my tie. And I'd heard one of my kids yell, "Hey, Dad, can you help me?" And I turned to my wife, I was like, "Did you just hear that?" She said no. And I hurried up and buttoned up my shirt, put my tie on and ran downstairs. I was like, "Hey, what did you say?" He's like, "Oh, I said, Hey, Dad, can you come help me?" And I still can remember that day. It was just so chaotic in the house, I was so mad because my kids weren't getting ready fast enough for us to get to church, but time stood still that day when I heard my name called "dad." And then Ash was being called "mom." And that day was the day I was like, "I'm a dad!" And he recognizes then, I have that title.
BRITTANY: About a year later, that's when we found out that reunification was no longer one of our goals, and that we could get started with the adoption process. So then two years after that, so three years total, being with Alo and Ashley, my mom and dad, we got adopted on April 3, 2018.
ASHLEY: The adoption day was awesome because we had my family, Alo's family, my best friend, you know, the people that finally came around. You know, at first, it's hard for people who aren't in this situation to be like, why would you do that? But they all eventually were on board and took them in as their own. So we had probably 100, maybe 150 people that came to their adoption. And it was awesome. We were there, the kids were excited, the kids were nervous. It was every possible emotion I think that there could be.
ALO: We all got to stand, you know, and the judge had turned to each of our kids individually, and, you know, she asked, you know, "Do you know why you're here today?" And then that's when Brittany just like, "You know, Judge, I've been waiting three years."
Ashley: It was a dry eye until Brittany got on and then everybody started crying. So, as soon as she started crying, then all the kids started crying and there wasn't a dry eye in there at all.
BRITTANY: That was the happiest day of my life cause that's all I've ever wanted, from the last three years of my life. And I just remember sitting up there, and them asking me, "Do you want to be adopted by Ashley and Alo?" And I just started crying, and I said yes. And that was a day that I will remember for a lifetime because that's the day that I forever became a Moli. And it's been a journey, but they've had our best interest in mind the last three years, and they're going to have our best interest in mind for the rest of our lives.
During this whole, the whole process of growing up and being in foster care, God has put me in many trials. He tested my patience. He just wanted to make sure that I was going to be prepared. But I just wish that his timing was a little bit better. Because I was a 16-year-old that got put in foster care and I thought that my life was over because I was 16 in foster care, who'd want to foster a 16-year-old? But He definitely knew.
ASHLEY: Trust in God's timing. That was my
ALO: We did not like that saying.
ASHLEY: That is not something I was very happy about because I wanted it now and then and we wanted children, we wanted to be a family and at the time, I was so mad that I wasn't getting it and not understanding why. I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing, I'm doing everything you told me if I do, then I should, you know, receive blessings. And it wasn't at that time, but now I have my big family and if I didn't trust in his timing, and I didn't stay faithful, I could have lost out on the opportunity to have these babies, they might not be mine at that point. So to definitely trust in His timing, because He knows way more than I do.
ALO: I think knowing that there was a foster child for him the same time, I think God knew that. I don't know if there are prayers that are ever interconnected with each other, if that's how it works, but He knew that there was a child in Ogden, who was praying the same time, the exact same time, the year of 2013, 2014, praying for a family that would give her the same love that we wanted to give a child. And to know that God was, you know, his hand was in that all the way, was extremely humbling. You can't tell me that there's, there isn't a God that provides that kind of-- that is aware and had it all mapped out for us.
BRITTANY: He listened to my prayers, he listened to my parent's prayers, and he put us together and his timing, I mean, now that I look back at it, it couldn't have been better. It was perfect.
KARYN LAY: That was Brittany, Alo and Ashley Moli. This story gets me every time. There's a lesson for me and maybe all of us in this gentle illustration of God working behind the scenes to create a joyful life for the Moli's. As each person struggled through what was probably the worst experience of their life, their prayers did not go unheard. And in fact, their difficulties became the answer to someone else's prayer. It's not unusual to feel alone or forgotten in the day-to-day act of being human. And I think the trick is to open ourselves up to the possibility that our Heavenly Father is still present, even when we don't see him or hear him in familiar or expected ways.
Thank you to the Moli family for sharing their story, and thank you for joining us for this episode of This is the Gospel. If you have a story to share, call our pitch line at 515-519-6179 and leave us a message with a short synopsis of your story. And of course, be sure to check out past episodes at LDSliving.com/thisisthegospel. If you love the stories we've shared, rate us on Apple or anywhere you listen to your podcasts and tell your friends, it'll help more people find us. Have a great week.