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 www.dadwillbuildyourleg.blogspot.com 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: www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate 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.

Blessings,

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 akanallakan@gmail.com 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!?!! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

June-July Update: Foster Youth Graduation, Adoption Celebration, Car Accident, Fireworks Booth, Dossier Prep...Nap.

So the last four weeks have been a bit insane. "A bit" is an understatement. Super-duper insane is more accurate. As you can see from the title of this post, we have had our hands full with some pretty intense events.

Here's the recap:

Foster Youth Graduation

As the Program Coordinator for City Without Orphans, Tulare County, I get to do some really cool things with some super cool people. Case in point = Attend the ILP Foster Youth Graduation Dinner with thousands of dollars worth of donated raffle prizes in hand.

Each year the Tulare County Independent Living Program (ILP) hosts a graduation dinner for foster youth who have completed high school. Traditionally, there is a raffle but this year, due to budget cuts, the county did not have the funds to purchase the prizes. Three local churches stepped up and committed to providing the raffle gifts. The county couldn't believe the generosity of the faith community and the value/quality of the gifts. Not only were there 15 rad raffle prizes, but each graduate was given a devotional and $50 Target gift card as well.

It was such a great event and so fun to get to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these amazing and deserving kids.



Adoption Celebration and Banquet

 June 22nd was our church's 2nd annual Adoption Celebration and Banquet and, just like last year, we SOLD OUT! We had over 90 items and services donated for our raffle and silent auction and had to combine many of the donations so that it would all fit on the 20 plus tables we set up. We enjoyed an evening of delicious food, Hutsells Homemade ice cream (if you are in the Valley you HAVE to try their ice cream!!), amazing raffle and auction prizes, and, last but not least, the wonderful Gospel Whiskey Runner's concert. It was a fabulous evening, with our final amount raised of $17,775! These funds will be divided between our church's Lifesong for Orphans account (to be available in the form of grants for our adopting families) and our "Post-Adoption Support" fund. 

Some of our amazing donated raffle items. 
Tables, linens, chairs, decor = all donated!!
The Lord brought the masses! Every seat filled!!
Tim and our dear friend, Deborah, selling raffle tickets.
The amazing banner made by Kim Rico. The perfect theme for this adoption process. 
We are so grateful for all the volunteers who donated countless hours helping organize the event and the over 250 people who attended and celebrated with us. So, so blessed the generosity of our church family.

Car Accident

Just a few days after the wrapping up the banquet and before launching into the fireworks booth, I was picking up Tim from work (because our Pilot was at the transmission repair shop...yea.) when we were hit by another driver. Though all the people involved were ok, our car was not. The front left tire took the brunt of the impact and the axle was broken as a result. The car was towed from the scene and later pronounced "totaled." Since our Pilot was still in the shop, we had a day or two as a "no car" family until we could pick up a rental and snag the Pilot back (unfixed) from the transmission shop. The rental is now returned, the insurance check has been cashed, and we are living life as a "one car" family as we search for vehicle number two.


Fireworks Booth

I spent much of May and June prepping to sell fireworks. Having never grown up in a city where street fireworks were legal, it was a whole new world for me. Our church recently merged with another church who had dibbs on a fireworks booth. The city of Visalia only allows 27 fireworks booths so there is 12 year wait to work one. One of our pastor's generously offered the booth to the three families of our church adopting internationally as a means of fundraising. We all eagerly jumped in, knowing that this was a huge opportunity to make some money. Because none of us had every managed a fireworks booth, we had little to no idea of how much work was actually involved. Let me put it this way, we sold over $29,000 worth of fireworks in 4 days and we earned every. single. penny. Of course, the week of July 1st through the 4th was record breaking heat. Sitting in a plywood box on top of asphalt in 107 degree heat is not something your average person would volunteer for, but guess what? We had over 36 volunteers over the four days who did just that. Many of the volunteers I had never even met before and there they were, sweating next to me, so I could get money to bring my baby home from China. What a gift. What a picture of the body of Christ.
Unpacking 2000lbs of fireworks.


Setting up the booth.
Ready to sell!!
The Lord showed us so much favor through the entire process. Our original location fell through and so we scrambled to find a spot for the booth. We landed in a Walmart parking lot. FAVOR. When the fire marshall came to approve our set up, he asked me how in the world we landed in such an amazing location. I think he called it "prime." He was right. By 6:30 pm on the 4th we had SOLD OUT. Completely cleared the booth of all fireworks except a few bricks of Ground Blooms. The next morning when Tim and I went to our drop off appointment, the fireworks crews couldn't believe we were only returning a single box. FAVOR.
S O L D  O U T!!

We are still calculating expenses and sales tax but we are hoping that each of the three families will be able to walk away with about $4000 from the fireworks booth. So much work. So worth it.

As if the sweet location, amazing volunteers, and incredible selling out of fireworks wasnt enough blessing, God had the wife of a local news channel drive by our booth and call her husband to tell him to share our story. On Friday morning ABC 30 showed up and did a great spot on our fundraiser. Follow the link to check it out:

http://abc30.com/157897/

Nap

With the past few weeks being as crazy as they were, we are now finally entering what feels like "summer vacation." The kids are enjoying VBS and swim lessons this week, I actually went grocery shopping, and our laundry is getting washed AND folded!

As far as the adoption paperwork goes, we are hoping to have all of our dossier documents completed and notarized ($10 per signature) by July 23rd (our 9 year anniversary) and will then mail them off to be state certified ($20 each document) and then mail them off again to be authorized by the Chinese Consulate ($25 each document). Our prayer is that every step will go smoothly and we will be ready to send it to our agency in the first week of August and they will be ready to mail it to China on August 22, the Friday after my 30th birthday!!!

Please join us in thanking God for the amazing ways He continues to provide the finances for this adoption. He is so faithful. Every check we've written has had the cash in our adoption savings account to back it up. Pray that our faith would continue to increase as we watch our Father provide.

Also, please pray that all the final details needed in finalizing our dossier would fall into place so that we are ready to send everything to China mid-August.

Lastly, pray that we find a car soon. Tim has been diligently searching, test driving, and praying for the exact car that the Lord has picked out for our soon-to-be family of five. With three car seats in our near future, a mini-van is on our radar. Pray that we would be wise in making the purchase... and that our Pilot's transmission would be healed.

God could do that, you know :).

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June Update: Home Study Approved

Holy smokes batman, it's been a long time since I've posted an update! Where do I even start...Excuse me while I scroll through instagram to remember what the last 8 weeks have looked liked.

Our biggest accomplishment in the last month was (drum roll please) completing our home study!! We are now an approved adoptive family and can be matched with a child from our agency's special needs listing. Did you read that?? We are now waiting for a phone call or email from our social worker with a name, photo, and medical info of our son or daughter!! The call could come later today or it might not come till September. For now, we just wait on God's perfect timing.

Standard Goods, our Etsy shop, has really taken off these past few weeks. We were so excited to be featured on Etsy's home page for a bit and that really drove traffic to our store and revved up our sales. Tim and I spend most every evening now cutting, oiling, and sewing leather goods. When we launched our lil' etsy shop back in October, our goal was to earn $5000 by the time we submitted our dossier in August. If sales continue at their current pace, we are estimating our total sales to be close to $8000. WE ARE OVERWHELMED by the favor God has shown us in this venture. Tim and I often joke about the reality that we are working to fund this adoption through making purses and dog collars. Never in a million years...

We recently sent off a few of the largest checks I've ever written to our agency. It is so awesome to have the money in our savings account to back up those checks. Even now, as the account begins to dwindle, we have such confidence that when the next payment is due, the money will be there. This process has been such a faith builder for our entire family. It is not uncommon for the kids and I to get the mail and for them to ask, "Is God mailing us money today?" I love that at ages 3 and 5 they already have such a testimony of God as a good provider.

Our dear friend and incredible photographer, Kelli Avila, blessed us with some adoption photos for us to use in sharing our story. I love them all so much!





To our son or daughter in China, 

We are working so hard to bring you home!! See you soon!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April Update

Ready for another update?

Makers Market

We had a great day selling our Standard Goods pieces along side other great, local artisans at the Embellish & Restore Makers Market. We sold over $450 worth of our leather goods and made some great connections which we are hoping will grow into other fundraising opportunities.





Homestudy Paperwork

We finished our homestudy paperwork and mailed it, along with a $2900 check to our agency!! We have scheduled our first Home visit for next week and hope to have our homestudy approved by May. There are a bunch of grants we are wanting to apply for (and maybe a Kickstart-ish campaign) but we've been waiting until our homestudy is done and approved to apply. Pray it all continues to move forward smoothly and quickly!



Beach Day

Between adoption paperwork, Standard Goods, and life in general, we've been pretty swamped. Last Saturday was supposed to be another super busy day but after a series of unrelated events, all the busyness was canceled and our day totally opened up. What do you do with a free day? Go to the beach, of course!! 







House Prep

We really have no clue when child #3 will be home. It could be nine months, it could be twelve months.  But we know they are coming and we know we need to be prepared. With our first home visit coming up in a few days, we started to have a more serious conversation about bedrooms/beds/cribs etc. Because we don't know the age or gender of our child yet, it is all one big guessing game. We had moved the guest room bed into Jane's room to create space for our Standard Goods workshop. Though Jane loved having the huge bed in her room, it took up tons of space and made it really difficult  for her to play in her room. A few nights ago, Tim and I started talking about looking for a trundle bed for her room to create space for her and allow for an additional bed, in case we are matched with a sweet girl. It was a super fun conversation and reminded me of the chats we would have during my pregnancies as we would dream about nursery decor, baby names, and wonder if the baby was a boy or girl. 

24 hours after having the bed conversation, I was looking on craigslist and found an ad that had just been placed for a gorgeous daybed with a trundle for an incredible price. We picked it up last night and the kids have been playing on it and in Jane's room all day! 




It has been so fun to do some type of "nesting" as we prep for our adoption. There is so much more to be done and so much we can't do until we have a match but the simple action of buying a bed with a second bed in anticipation of what might be, definitely upped the level of excitement in our house!