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How This Global Family Found Unexpected Love

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Photography by Tommy McMillion

There’s an old adage that says, “Love comes when you least expect it.” Cara and Brandon Kelley, and now their son Sidney, are living proof that there’s truth to that proverb. Growing up a world apart, they had no clue that a chance encounter on social media would end in the creation of a happy family. For anyone who hears the story, it seems like destiny.

Cara’s World

Cara grew up in a small town in New South Wales, Australia called Aubrey, left at age 25 to teach, and then, moved to Scotland because her mum was born there. She enjoyed globetrotting and soon traveled to the U.S. to train teachers in San Diego, California. But something in her gut told her not just to visit; she needed to live to the United States. There was “no logical reason to move, but it felt right,” she says. Following her hunch, in 2012, she blindly moved to Denver, Colorado, U.S., and within two days, she was hired as a teacher. “That moment for me defined that’s where the magic happens — trusting your gut.”

A right swipe on a dating app almost defined another step in her life. After two years in the state, she was deciding what to do next when she met Brandon on Tinder.

But a date never materialized.

In 2014, Cara decided to return to Australia and started a charity page on Instagram.

Meeting Brandon

Back in Denver, Brandon was intrigued by a new Insta profile. He’d been looking for a woman to join the board of his company, and the essence of this new page struck him. He inboxed the profile and the two began speaking. Brandon insists, “I heard God telling me — as clear as I hear you right now — ‘Do whatever you can to help these people.’” This prompted him to expedite a passport in three days. Three weeks later, he flew to Australia.

The charitable group, Brandon shares, took high school students to other countries to create 100 percent recycling communities. “I loved it and I said, ‘Absolutely!’ This is the vision and the connection I want to build in this world — I love you already,” he recalls saying.

Little did he know, the force behind the organization was Cara — his Denver Tinder date that had never come to fruition. But that all changed quickly once he landed Down Under.

Palpable Energy

As soon as they met, the proverbial sparks flew, and apparently everyone could see it. “I was thinking business at this point and [out of nowhere] my mum said, ‘I think you found your one,” Cara shares.

It didn’t stop there. The day after Brandon’s arrival, a stranger turned around and — unprompted — said, “You two, you need to fly to Fiji and elope. I have a friend who has a jet.”

“We thought she was joking,” says Brandon. But then the stranger’s friend walked up and said, “It’s not a jet — it’s a sea plane.” Brandon continues, “It was crazy; it was just insane.”

Brandon and Cara couldn’t ignore their feelings any longer, either, and it was time they acknowledged it. To be fair, Brandon had barely been in the country one day. Even so, “From the moment we connected, my life has accelerated,” Cara says. “I thought it was things you hear in the movies or things people say, but everything shifted.” Brandon adds, “That whole story about her even coming to America is why I love this woman so much.”

Brandon extended his Australian weekend business trip to almost a week. Upon flying back to Colorado, he packed up his house, and his life, and flew back Down Under.

On Cara’s side, the feelings were mutual. “As soon as he left, I told everyone, ‘I’ve met my future husband.’” Friends and family believed her, as it wasn’t like her to jump in so quickly. “They knew it for sure because I never had said anything like that before. My older sister always told me, ‘You’re too fussy, you’re too picky.’ This go ‘round, her tune changed. ‘It’s about time,'” Cara recalls her sister saying.

Meanwhile, when Brandon returned to Australia, he asked Cara’s grandma, mother and dad for her hand in marriage. “Everyone I’m really close to, as soon as I met Brandon, could see [our connection] straight away,” Cara says.

Upon returning from Australia after their whirlwind week together, Brandon acquired the first ring his dad had purchased for his mom. This would seal their engagement. He proposed on a tucked-away pier in Sydney Harbor. “There are no animals in this harbor because there are so many boats and ferries,” he says. “I have this ring in my pocket, thinking ‘What am I going to do?’ and this random, lone seal pops up like, ‘Yah — do it already.” So he proposed.

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The New Family

It’s like the world was conspiring to push them together. “Obviously it was a huge honor for me, but it was such a surprise [the ring] fit me perfectly,” Cara shares.

Before meeting Brandon, Cara had always known she’d eventually move back to Denver, but she thought it would be to get her master’s degree — not because she fell in love. By November of that year, less than six months after their initial meeting, the couple was together in the U.S. Everything was seamless: Cara easily got a visa, she was offered a job immediately and they found the perfect apartment. Everything was falling into place.

They’d been living parallel lives and possessed all the traits, values, skills and attributes the other wanted. And now, they were complete. Within a year of meeting, they married. Within a year of moving to the States, they had a son: Sidney Ike Kelley. “Sidney is her grandad’s name, and we met in Sydney,” Brandon explains. “Brandon’s gradad’s name is Isaiah, but he went by Ike,” shares Cara.

And like his parents, Sidney’s stumbled into the greatest love one never expected. To look into his parents’ eyes, their adoration for each other has clearly spilled over to one lucky little boy. May their luck and zest for life do the same.

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9 comments

  1. I love this story and how it is an example of becoming cross-cultural for both parties, and their son! These soulmates found their connection through global mobility and their son is going to grow up in a multi-racial, multi-cultural household with many valuable experiences.

  2. This story is fantastic and I love how it represents crossing cultures. Their son will have many future household experiences to find where he stands in today’s society. It might have been luck but it sure seems like destiny for these two.

  3. This story is a great representation of a cross cultural family. Both parents will be able to pass on cultural influences to their son. The story is quite personalised which makes it more enjoyable to read. The pictures give a great visual image of the family and makes the reader feel as though they can understand the story better.

  4. This is such an unbelievable story. It’s so crazy how technology and social media have taken over, connecting people of completely different backgrounds. Their family is so beautiful and will have the best story to tell their son when he grows up and learns more about who he is and where his family came from.

  5. There are a lot of bad things happening around the world, and when love comes out on top, it reminds me to appreciate the happy moments. This cross-cultural and multi-racial family is teaching their son to be proud of who he is and that is beautiful.

  6. First I would like to start by saying this family is beautiful and the pictures taken were stunning. I would want those framed in my house if it were my family. Very enjoyable to read and lighthearted.

  7. This story is completely beautiful. The pictures are absolutely stunning and it was a nice read especially among the sad stories that are always in the news and other media outlets. I love the intersections of this cross-cultural and multi-racial family. I wish the best to them and their beautiful son.

  8. This love story brings me hope for the world. Seeing two people fall so deeply into connection in this way by following their guts and trusting their instincts is an honor to read about. Reminds me of the New York Times Modern Love column!

  9. I enjoyed reading this article because it’s a real-life romance that came about through two culturally fluid people who met doing something they both loved and believed in. Cara’s go with the flow nature of getting up and moving despite there not being a reason too, but just because it felt right speaks to her ability to trust in herself and her ability to succeed no matter where she ended up. Brandon’s support and infatuation with Cara coming from her showing how strong and capable she is makes this story all the more storybook-like. The fact that two people who not only support one another’s ambitions and whims and celebrate their differences is something that I wish more romantic movies and books touched on, the stories are out there, it’d be nice to see their relationship as an exemplary one to show the definition of love at first sight.

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