Sunday, January 18, 2015

Oliver: Part 1

So I'm about a dozen blog posts behind. So much has happened in the last four weeks and rather then write a novel, I've decided to give the update in multiple parts. Warning: They will be wordy and too detailed but it is my hope that all the posts in this blog will serve as a sort of "baby book" for our son as we record this adventure.

Oliver: Part 1

Back in October I wrote a post about feeling "blah" and exhausted from waiting and not knowing what was coming next in our adoption adventure. After a year of paper chasing and appointments and working hard to fund-raise, the holiday's hit and there was nothing more for us to do but wait for our agency to match us with a child. It was crickets for a while and it was frustrating because I had zero control. I didn't want to whine too loudly though because in the adoption world, we really hadn't been waiting that long and, as far as we knew, we might have a lot longer to wait. So I wrote a whiney blog post and moved on. November came and went without a peep from our agency. My hopes of having a match by Christmas were quickly fading.

Somewhere in the first week of December I got a text from a woman at church who wanted to know more about adoption. She and her husband were in the early stages of the conversation and wanted to hear a bit more about our story. We planned to meet for dinner on Tuesday, December 9th. Tuesday morning came and I dropped Sawyer off at Kindergarten and Jane off at Preschool and headed for a hair appointment. I love getting my hair done but it has sort of been a marker for how long this journey has been for us (again, I know "long journey" is relative). My hair dresser was one of the first people to know we had started the process back in 2013 and since I only see her every 3-4 month or so (don't judge- getting my hair done is expensive, yo) its always an interesting conversation of filling her in on whats happened and whats next. The bummer with this appointment was nothing had really changed since the last time I had come in. We chatted about other things and as I got up to leave and grabbed my phone I noticed a missed call from our social worker. The adrenalin immediately kicked in and I was shaking while trying to pay my hairdresser. Our social worker had told us she wouldnt call unless it had something to do with a referral so I was anxious over the fact that I had missed her first call and even more anxious about hurrying to my car so I could call her back.

She picked up right away and immediately asked if I was driving. I think I said something like, "YES! NO! It doesnt matter, just tell me whats up???!!" She laughed and said, "I think I have an early Christmas present for your family!!" She proceeded to tell me about the file of a seven-month-old baby boy, in need of a family. She said he was missing his right hand and was noted as being in good health. I kept saying, "Seven months?? He is only seven months old??" She said she couldnt believe it either and that the Lord knew what we were hoping for in our hearts in regards to being a family for a baby. Our social worker said she would email us the file and include the photos at the end. There was a pretty short time limit for deciding "yes" or "no" on our part so she encouraged us to talk and pray right away. I was giddy on the phone the entire conversation and kept asking the Lord, "Is he ours? Is this our son? Please let this be our son!"

I called Tim as soon I hung up with the social worker and asked him to meet me at home as soon as possible. I picked the kids up from school and could barely hold it together. As soon as we were home, I threw some turkey and cheese on two plates and put a movie on and told the kids mom and dad would be talking for a while. Tim came home and without saying anything, we went straight to our room and opened the laptop. We read through the medical file and personal file and learned a lot about this baby's health, weight, daily schedule, and the institution he was currently living in. At the end of the documents were six of the sweetest pictures I had ever seen. Sitting on our knees, at the foot of our bed, we saw the face of our son, Oliver, for the first time. It was such a surreal moment. One we had waited for and heard about and dreamed of and now were living out. Tim said, "Let's go get him and bring him home." And that was it. He was ours and we were his.

We called our social worker and told her we wanted to pursue the adoption of this baby. She said, "I knew it. The whole China team knew it. They already pulled his file for you. As soon as they saw him, they knew."  Chills.

We went to dinner that night with some new friends and got to talk all about our adoption journey and this time, for the first time, the story ended with the face of our Oliver. Later that night we drafted our Letter of Intent and sent it off to our agency to be sent to China. We told the kids the following evening and could barely keep from announcing it to the world, but, per our agency, were strongly advised to keep the circle small until we received conformation via Letter of Acceptance which was guestimated to come within 50-60 days.

Miracle of miracles, our Letter of Acceptance arrived at our agency 8 days later. Totally unexpected. Totally not "standard wait time." Totally God.

We wont show Oliver's full face on social media until we receive travel approval (we are praying this comes mid Feb) but here is the teaser we posted on facebook.

Part 2 coming soon...Oh yes, there is more.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Falalalalala Fully Funded!

We are thrilled to announce that our adoption is FULLY FUNDED!! Every dollar we need to bring our little one home has been given to us from our faithful and generous God and we are overwhelmed with gratefulness.

It has been 15 months since we started this journey of adoption and 14 of those months have been spent in some form of fundraising. We never dreamed we would be fully funded before receiving a match but God knows what we need and is so good to give us more than we ask or imagine.

So what does this mean for Standard Goods? We are going to continue working in our little leather shop to help cover the un-forseen costs we know will arise (things like increased airfare, medical needs, upgrading our hotel room in China, a new stroller, etc.).  We will no longer be promoting the shop as a means of raising funds for our adoption but will be giving a percentage of sales each month to loving and serving the needs of orphans and widows in our community and around the world.

We want to thank the many, many friends and family members who have given towards our adoption. We've received countless cards with checks and anonymous "gifts" in envelopes over the last year. Our matching grant was met within weeks of announcing it and events like the Adoption Banquet at Radiant, the fireworks booth in July, and the Handmade Holiday sale were huge in helping bring in the funds needed. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone involved in helping bring our baby home.

We serve a mighty God who is a father to the fatherless. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks...there is more news coming soon!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Ugly and Honest Truth

So it has been a while since I've updated the ol' blog. Excuse #1 is that we've been swamped with Standard Goods. We had two big events in the same week and so every spare moment of the last month has been filled with cutting, oiling, sewing, and prepping leather pieces.

"Tastemakers" at the Rawhide Stadium

Makers Market at Embellish and Restore in Downtown Visalia, Oct. 14th

Excuse #2 is that I haven't really wanted to write anything...the ugly truth. As of today we've been waiting 59 days for a match. Back in August when we were getting ready to send our dossier to China, we had heard that the wait time for a match was 2-3 weeks from the date the paperwork was logged. In my head and my heart I was really sure we would have a match by the end of September and maybe even be able to travel sometime in December. Three weeks stretched to four and then five and then six and now we are starting our ninth week of waiting. I kinda hate it.

When I was 38 weeks pregnant with Sawyer I remember my doc telling me that my baby was "going to come any day now." I waited until almost a full 41 weeks to meet our firstborn. Those three weeks of waiting were torturous. The excitement paired with fear that came with each twinge or cramp or braxton hicks drove both Tim and I crazy. I feel like I'm right back at those three anxiety wrought weeks. Every time my phone rings my heart stops just a bit wondering if it's our social worker calling to tell us about our son or daughter. It is a crazy and weird emotional roller coaster that I know will eventually end on a high note but, until then, leaves me spinning.

I've even been "nesting." We completely rearranged the kids' rooms to accommodate for the soon-to-arrive brother or sister. I'm telling you, we are so ready to have a name and face and a gender and an age to miss and dream of and long for rather then just the title of "our China baby."

All this to say that every time I've thought to myself, "Hmmm, I should really update the blog today" the thought was closely followed by, "I don't want to write an update titled "No News Whatsoever." This train of thought resulted in almost five weeks of blog nothingness. So there it is. The ugly and honest truth about Tuesday in the Kanallakan's adoption journey. Prayers appreciated as we meander through this phase of waiting and hoping and dreading another day of no phone calls.

Our leather stuff is pretty cool though, eh? :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

We're Almost There...

God is good. So good. 

Ok, before you read any further, look to the right of the screen and notice how much we've raised and how much is left. Our current deficit is $9000. Remember that number as you read this letter that we will be mailing out to friends and family next week. 

Nine thousand. 
Nine thousand.

Ok, now check this out. I know its long, but please read it all :)

September 7, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

About two years ago, we began to sense God inviting us into the adventure of growing our family through international adoption.  During our early months of prayer and research, our eyes were opened to the vast number of orphans with special needs, waiting for a forever family. As we sought the Lord’s direction for our adoption, we felt very strongly that we were to use the gifts and talents God had given Tim as a Prosthetist /Orthotist to love and care for a child with limb difference (missing a leg or arm, etc.).  We continued to pray about where this particular special need was greatest and the Lord lead us to China. We believe our son or daughter is waiting for us there.

After 12 months of intense paperwork and fundraising, we are close to seeing this dream and calling become reality. On Aug. 20th of this year, our application to The People’s Republic of China was received and accepted and we are now waiting to be matched with our son or daughter. We anticipate this match to happen very soon and pray that we will be traveling to China to bring our child home as early as January of 2015.

International adoption is costly and risky on many fronts. Because we are confident that we are walking in God’s calling on our family, we do not fear the “unknowns” ahead of us. We know that God is with us and will provide for our needs as a couple, as parents, and as a family with a special needs child from another country. Sawyer and Jane are very aware of our decision to grow our family in this way and are thrilled and anxious to meet their new sibling and will love them well. It is awesome to witness the love that is growing in all of our hearts for this family member who we have yet to meet but who we all miss and long for deeply.

We estimate that bringing our child home will cost around $30,000. We have spent the last 12 months working hard to raise these needed funds. In October of last year we launched our handmade leather goods shop, “Standard Goods: Leather and Tools, Co.” and have made and sold over 500 leather pieces, made at our dining room table. All sales have gone directly towards our adoption savings fund. We have hosted garage sales, managed and manned a fireworks booth, and helped lead the facilitating of our church’s annual “Adoption Celebration” dinner which raises money for adopting families.

In total, through our Standard Goods sales and other fundraising efforts, along with the generous donations of a few close friends and family members, we have raised about $21,000 towards our $30,000 estimated total cost. This accomplishment is nothing short of miraculous and we are beyond grateful for God’s faithfulness.

A few weeks ago, we received the incredible gift of a $4500 “Adoption Matching Grant” from our Radiant Church family via the non-profit ministry of Lifesong for Orphans. This grant will be matched dollar for dollar to help pay our remaining adoption expenses.  We would like to invite you into being a part of our new child’s adoption story. 

Would you pray about partnering with us in bringing our child home? Our goal date is October 30th, but funds will be accepted towards our adoption until our child is home and/or our adoption is complete.

Please make checks payable to “Lifesong for Orphans.” In the memo note our family name and account number: Kanallakan/#4734 to assure the funds go towards the correct account. Please mail to:

Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

Lifesong has been blessed with a partner that underwrites all US administrative and fundraising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners) and 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption.

Another option is to give online. Our family blog is and along with updates on our adoption adventure, there is a PayPal donation button set up with a direct link to our Lifesong account.
You can also visit: and select “Give to an Adopting Family.” Simply complete the online form and fill in family name and number fields with: Kanallakan/#4734.

In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donors suggested use. Individual donations of $250 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $250 will gladly be sent upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.

Thank you for your prayer and support. Your investment will help change not only the earthly life of a child but will advance the Kingdom as we raise our new son or daughter in the knowledge of their Heavenly Father who has never left them and loves them dearly. Please pray that as we get closer and closer to China that God will continue to prepare not only our hearts, but our new child’s heart for the redemptive story that awaits.


Tim, Amber, Sawyer and Jane Kanallakan

Whew!! Now, just in case you've forgotten, we have $9000 left to raise in order to be fully funded. I know it's Friday but do a little math with me. Because our grant is a matching grant it means all funds donated will be automatically doubled. 

$4500 plus $4500 equals: FULLY FUNDED!! 

We are overwhelmed with how God has provided for our adoption and super excited to see how He brings us to the finish line with the gift of this matching grant! 

As mentioned in the letter, if you would like to give, there are a few ways to donate towards our final push in being fully funded. We have set up a PayPal button here on the blog that is directly connected to our Lifesong account as well as included the link to Lifesongs website where you can use our family name and account number with your gift. 

Also, we would LOVE to mail you a copy of our family letter, along with an endorsement letter from Lifesong and a family photo for your fridge to serve as a reminder to pray for us. Just email us your mailing address at and we'll send the packet next week. 

This 12 month journey has been one of ups and downs, highs and lows, and lots and lots of prayer. We know we have only seen the tip of the iceberg and that the true challenges lie ahead, but God has given us a gift of faith during these months of working and fundraising and we are believing that our adoption fund will be full by Nov.1st. Will you join us and pray in agreement towards this goal? 

I keep thinking about Jesus talking to his friends about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and how much God delights in taking care of them. We have felt the delight of the Lord as we have seen Him provide the money needed to bring our child home. He has taken such good care of us and we are overwhelmed. 

Thank you to our friends and family for praying for us, for contending with us, for standing in a hot fireworks booth with us, for donating baskets to the Adoption Banquet, for babysitting our kids while we worked on paperwork, and the million of other ways you have loved us on this first leg of our adventure to China. 

We're almost there... 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Standard Goods Giveaway: Handmade Leather Guitar Strap

If you are not currently following us on Instagram, grab your phone and get on it! Our name is @standard_goods and we post regular updates on both our adoption adventure and our Standard Goods shop. This week we have an awesome giveaway happening so don't miss out! Giveaways are a great opportunity for us to not only drum up business, but also spread the word about our shop and our adoption story. Winner will be selected on Friday so hurry and enter today!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

30 and Waiting...

Today is August 21st and I have been 30 for two whole days! 30 has been the magic number for so long it is surreal to finally have arrived. China would not accept our dossier until both Tim and I were 30 so we've been holding onto our documents and counting down the days. Since our agency only sends dossier's to China on Friday, our initial plan was to have everything sent out on the 22nd (tomorrow), which is the Friday following my birthday.

Let me back up a bit...

Our first dossier goal was to have all our documents state certified by July 23rd. So, on Wednesday, July 23rd, my friend Monica (a fellow "waiting momma" with twin kiddos in Haiti) and I jumped into our mini van and road tripped it up to Sacramento to get 'er done.

I had assumed the certification process would take a while. I was sure there would be one or two documents that I missed a signature or dated it wrong or was notarized incorrectly or something so we identified the nearest UPS with an available notary to fix any issues that would come up and headed into the Secretary of States office to start the process. I took a number (though there was only one other person waiting at the time we arrived) and sat down. Three minutes later I was handing my documents over to be certified and was told to sit down and wait. Eight minutes after sitting down, I was told my documents were ready and have a nice day. What? Seriously? No issues? No re-do's? No "run to the notary next door and get this taken care of and then come back"? Nope. We were done. After just about four hours in the car, we spent maybe a total of fifteen minutes in the Sec. of States office before we were done. And just like that, we had all of our documents state certified by our goal of July 23rd!

 And since July 23rd was our ninth anniversary, we celebrated it the next day with a night out in the big city of Fresno.

With our documents now State Certified, the next step was to send them to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco to be Authenticated. Since this was not something we could road trip to make happen, we UPS'd our documents to the Consulate and were told to wait up to three weeks to get them back. Again, we were kinda expecting something to go wrong and prepping our selves to need to re-do a document or two. I mailed our dossier to San Francisco on July 25th and we had everything back, no issues, completely authenticated (with a super rad Chinese stamp) on August 7th. I spent most of the next day copying, scanning, and emailing everything to our agency. On Monday, August 11th, we sent every last document to our agency for final review.

On the 13th our agency received our dossier. On the 14th it was approved. And on the 15th, one week earlier then we had been praying for, our dossier was on a plane to China. Because it would take a few days of travel, our agency felt comfortable sending it out before my 30th birthday. We haven't received an official word yet, but it is most likely that our dossier was logged in with The People's Republic of China this past Tuesday, the 19th, my 30th birthday.

So what now? Now we begin to play "the waiting game." We have done all the paperwork we can do for now and it is all out of our hands. Now that our dossier is logged in and I am 30, we are eligible to be matched with any child fitting our profile. This means I am checking my phone and email often. Really often. Waiting to hear from our social worker who will give us our referral. It could happen this afternoon. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen next week or next month.

Don't get me wrong, we're not just twiddling our thumbs while we wait. As you can see from our little fundraising thermometer on the side of the blog, our estimated expenses have gone up a bit due to a recent increase in fees from our agency. However, you should also notice our amount fund raised has increased a lot as well which is super encouraging and faith building. So, since we still have a bit of a deficit, we are working hard at our Standard Goods business and cranking out the leather works. Our Etsy shop stays consistently busy and we've signed up for three fall "craft fairs" where we will be selling our goods to hopefully make a nice dent in the deficit. We have also applied for a grant and are hoping to hear more details on that soon. Once we receive and accept a referral, we will need to pay a fee of $15,000 so we are hustling to ensure we can write that check as soon as we see our little one's face. Lord, let it be soon!!

A huge "thank you" to those of you who have been praying for us during the paperwork process. We've felt your prayers and cherish the encouragement you've been to our family. We're getting close and the support we have from our friends and family makes it so much less scary and so much more exciting.

How cool would it be if my next update post is news that we've been matched with a child!?!!