Ryan and Carmen knew since their first date they would choose adoption to begin their family. Ryan was adopted from birth, and always knew he wanted to provide a loving home to a child in need the same way his parents did to him, and Carmen has always had a heart for children with special needs. She remembers volunteering her recesses in elementary school to work with the precious students in her school’s special education classroom, and kept her love for helping others through her life, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Special Education. (Fun fact: first date was June 28th 2012, engagement was August 4th, 2012, and their wedding was on January 19th, 2013!–even “funner!” fact: the daughter they are adopting’s birthday is Jan. 18 (2004) (that time of year is going to get way more expensive for Ryan!).
Their adoption process began sooner than they imagined thanks to a dream Carmen had been having since before her and Ryan were married (or even knew each other!). Carmen had the same recurring dreams for several years where she arrived home to the Nashville airport with her newly adopted daughter. The beautiful girl had gorgeous darker skin and dark wavy hair on her sweet head, she also had significant special needs, and was met with tears of joy and prayers by Carmen’s family at the airport. Fast-forward a few years after having this same dream over and over again, and while looking at the sweet children on an adoption advocacy site, THERE SHE WAS! THE SWEET GIRL CARMEN HAD BEEN DREAMING ABOUT! Thankfully, she already had a family coming for her, but Ryan and Carmen took her to be their sweet little angel who was telling them now was the time to begin their adoption journey. And so they did. One day while praying for the children and families of Reece’s Rainbow, Carmen scrolled down a page to have her husband grab her hand and exclaim, “Why hasn’t anyone adopted her yet?!” he repeated this several time until Carmen smiled and said, “I don’t know, maybe because we’re supposed to?” And that was it-the beginning of the journey to bring “Hallie”/Lu (soon to be Lucy if she wants a new name!) home. (fun fact: Carmen and Ryan are not actually that big of “I love Lucy” fans, they just thought giving her the name “Lucy” would be a great way to keep her Chinese name incorporated into a name given to her by her forever mommy and daddy)
See, Carmen is the weepy emotional sort and Ryan is the confident strong one–it makes for a great balance in this crazy little journey of life and adoption. Carmen is also the fiercely outspoken passionate one and Ryan is the gentle humble one–making yet another perfect balance in the crazy little thing called love. Carmen traveled to Afghanistan a year and half after 9/11/2011 to teach in newly gender-integrated classrooms, she has also been to Burma to set up day medical clinics in secret house churches, rocked babies in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and lived briefly in Uganda. After having seen so much pain and suffering, she decided she was either part of the problem or part of the solution–impassioning her even more. Once when talking to a friend about how she could possibly maintain a quiet and gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:4) when she’s seen so much injustice and suffering she was handed this ditty: “if you see suffering and injustice, you better shout it from the rooftops”-and that’s what she’s been doing ever sense, shouting it from the rooftops. (“fun” fact: while teaching in Afghanistan, Carmen had the taliban sit on on several of her classes; luckily she doesn’t scare easily, unless it involves spiders-then her life is over )
Ryan is the operations manager for the Home Depot and is always looking for ways to bless the immediate community around him, from donating crates upon crates of watermelon to the homeless mission to doing workshops with individuals with special needs. He is generous and humble-hearted: whenever Carmen approaches him with a way to “save the world (for somebody)” he listens and plans with her on how to do just that. (fun fact: Carmen sometimes convinces Ryan and a few of his coworkers to come and do a mini-workshop with her preschoolers, and one time they made bug catchers and told Ryan they wanted to catch black widows and poisonous snakes in it–Carmen did the important thing and taught them later that snakes are actually referred to as “venomous” and explained the difference–there is always a learning opportunity!).
Since Ryan and Carmen had only been married a year when they began the process to become a forever mommy and daddy to a sweet child on RR, they had to write a letter requesting a waiver (China requires you be married for 2 years). Remember how Carmen has a knack for writing with tons of emotion and being weepy and incredibly impassioned, well she wrote such a letter and pled her (and her husband’s) case, and…it was approved! Then a few weeks later the PA came, and now their are giddy new parents-to-be of a sweet 10 year old. (fun fact: Carmen and Ryan’s first dance was supposed to be to “Fools Rush In”–because, well, that’s what happened, remember the first “fun fact”?, but someone started the playlist before they got to the reception, so they didn’t)
They feel truly blessed, and look forward to walking through this journey with such a beautiful community (Carmen wants to make sure you know that is you!)
Change the world, for somebody.
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at beforeievenknewyou.blogspot.com