Charlotte Lopez was born on September 25, 1976, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her biological mother's name is Emma, and she has an older brother, Duane, and a younger sister, Diana. Her family moved to Vermont in 1977. Charlotte's mother was mentally unbalanced and was unable to care for her son and two daughters, so Social and Rehabilitation Services of Vermont took custody of the children. Charlotte and her sister then bounced around through five foster homes (Duane was separated from his sisters after the third foster home.) At the age of 14, after spending 11 years with one family that did not adopt her, Charlotte entered a group home for children in crisis. Although there were some tough house rules, Charlotte flourished in the home, kept good grades in school, and entered the Miss Vermont Teen USA pageant, which she won. In August 1992, Charlotte was crowned Miss Teen USA.
At the age of 17, Charlotte's childhood dream came true when she was adopted by Al and Jill on March 7, 1994. Charlotte went on to attend college at the University of California in Irvine. She is now an up and coming actress in Hollywood, having starred in television shows like Beverly Hills, 90210
and The Secret World of Alex Mack
, and movies such as Trojan War
and The Rage: Carrie 2
Charlotte changed her last name from Lopez to Ayanna, after finding out that Lopez was the last name of her maternal grandfather, a man that abandoned Charlotte's mother as a child. Charlotte chose Ayanna as her new last name because in Cherokee ayanna means blessed, which she feels she has been.
In 1996, Charlotte wrote Lost in the System
, a book detailing the childhood she spent in the Vermont foster care system and her triumph in the 1993 Miss Teen USA pageant.