Skip to content

Every child is a ‘beloved treasure’: Langford family just keeps on growing

Darlene and Calvin Younger have raised, adopted and fostered several children since the 1990s
The Younger family, pictured during a family trip. (Submitted by Darlene Younger).

By Tim Collins

It’s been said that the true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.

If it’s true that a natural extrapolation of that belief is that the true character of a person is revealed in how they love, respect and care for the children under their care, then the Youngers are truly remarkable human beings.

But let’s go back to the beginning.

Darlene and Calvin Younger moved to Langford from Manitoba in 1990. Then, some 30 years ago, Darlene learned that her nieces had been taken into care and decided that she would take over custody and raise the girls as her own.

“Thinking back, a family placement is the hardest ever,” Darlene Younger says. “There are a lot of family dynamics involved and things can get difficult.”

After giving it some thought, the Youngers decided that they may be able to help other children as well and went on to take a host of other children into foster care over the years, always with the attitude that anyone in their care was part of their family.

In fact, they went on to adopt eight of their foster children which, when combined with their own five biological children, has made for a rather large family.

But the unique nature of that family has not always been viewed positively by some people in the community.

“There’s tended to be two frames of mind,” she says. “There are some who are thankful (for what you’re doing) and put you on a pedestal, and others are suspicious and wonder if you’re doing it for the money.”

Neither of those attitudes is helpful, Younger says.

There are also those who will look askance at all foster parents based upon some personal experiences or on news reports telling of tragic failures in the foster system.

But the Youngers have never allowed the attitudes of others to affect their family.

“I see every child as a beloved treasure and when I take a child in, they are family members. It’s that simple.”

Of course, as with any family, there are challenges.

One of their biological children was born with some neurological challenges and over the years the Youngers have also fostered other children with a variety of other challenges.

“Some children are just painfully searching for who they are, and others are born with disabilities and the world is a hard place for them,” she says.

“And sometimes we fight, like any family. We have disagreements but if something important requires family support, we always have each other. When the chips are down, we always have each other.”

And, as one might expect, the logistics of this very large family can be daunting. That hasn’t deterred the Youngers, however, as the children have participated in activities that range from skiing and snowboarding, to hockey, and rugby. Then there’s the figure skating, swimming, gymnastics and PACE theatrical performances.

“We have a big 15 passenger van to get everyone around, although we did buy a smaller hybrid vehicle as well,” Younger says. “We buy equipment on Varage Sale, and the garage is packed with all this stuff.”

Younger credits the support that she’s received from the community for making life a little easier.

“Programs like PACE, for example, and the people involved in hockey … and a lot of others. There have been and are great people who are always there to lend a hand if it’s needed,” Darlene said.

Although some of the Youngers’ children are now grown with children of their own, the house is in no danger of becoming an empty nest. There are still eight children in the home, ranging from a three-year-old to one who is graduating this year. Darlene’s mother and her husband are also there and, since no home is complete without pets, there’s a dog, four cats, a rabbit and a guinea pig.

And don’t think for a moment that a large family stands in the way of family vacations.

“We usually buy a pass for skiing at Mount Washington. This year we went to Mexico and in 2019, we all took a trip to Disney.”

When asked if she would do it all again, Younger doesn’t hesitate.

“Of course. If you see situations where kids are alone and isolated, it’s an opportunity to make a difference. It’s important that we do not turn our backs on any child. I’ve heard it said that a child that isn’t embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth. I think that’s probably true.”

And with those thoughtful words, Younger was off to some deliver some of her children to their next activities.