Sunday, March 8, 2015

Oliver: Part 2- Big Thoughts

Sometimes my head and heart are so full that I am afraid as soon as I start typing all the words and feelings that are inside will just gush out into a big blob of goo. I blame my fear of goo on the lack of blog posts lately. There is just so much happening inside my head and heart these days. To think about having to specify or define or articulate it all has felt overwhelming. I sit to type something up and end with a blank screen and re-runs of Downton Abbey on the TV. Big thoughts are exhausting.

Big thoughts are also important. As I process our journey to Oliver, both the things that have already happened and the things that are happening soon, I have to think big thoughts or I fear I will miss the greatness of what God has done and is continuing to do.

We stood in church this morning with our people, singing our brains out about how God is enough and is bigger and is for us and never leaves us. As wee sang loud and clapped loud and cheered loud and prayed loud, I kept thinking about something a fellow adoptive mom said to me this week. She was encouraging me and reflecting on God's faithfulness to her own family and then said this:

Will continue our prayers---have a blessed trip----when you feel stressed, lean into Jesus & release ALL to Him. Remember, none of this would have been possible without Him (a Christian American family, adopting from a communist atheist nation...only God).

As my brothers and sisters and I participated in loud, corporate worship, in the middle of of our city, just off of Main Street, with the front doors open to let in the breeze, I was overwhelmed by the reality of the contrast between my home church and the Church in Ch*na. This Sunday in Ch*na, millions of believers worshiped together in secret, or individually. They have to pay attention to what is going on around them as they sing and pray and teach. They may or may not even have access to a Bible. Yes, some areas of Ch*na have more freedom then others but that freedom is nothing like what we experience on a weekly bases.

I am so excited to bring Oliver to church. I am so excited that this little boy will grow up in a family of believers that likes to sing their brains out and jump and dance and clap and shout and leave the doors open. I am so excited that Oliver will be taught about the gifts of the Spirit and be encouraged to walk in them and to earnestly seek them. I am so excited that he will have men and women around him who will pray for him and prophecy over him and teach him to hear the voice of God.

God chose Tim and I to parent Oliver and that responsibility is something we take very seriously. We've attended conferences, read books, watched DVDs, met with other adoptive parents and done everything in our human power to try to prepare for the next weeks of attachment forming and "cocooning" and becoming a family of 5. There are many times when the responsibility of parenting our three kiddos becomes very heavy and feels to big for our shoulders. I've felt the heaviness a lot these past few weeks. The closer we get to leaving for Ch*na, the more I see Sawyer and Jane begin to feel it as well. Regression, sassy-ness, defiance, all the favorite behaviors have reared their heads as Tim and I start packing our bags and putting in the new car seat. I knew it was coming. It is completely normal for older siblings to react to the uncertainty of what the addition of a baby will mean for them and for their family they are comfortable and familiar with. I know in my brain it is normal. But it leaves my heart heavy. The scary big thoughts threaten to take over and on goes Netflix.

But here is the other side of the conversation that the Lord keeps bringing me back to. He gave us Sawyer and Jane and He told us to go get Oliver and He never starts a good work only to leave it undone. He always finishes what He starts. He is all about completion. And He does good work.

The movie "The Drop Box" was released last week and I went two nights in a row. I thought I'd be a basket case as I watched the abandoned babies being brought into Dr. Lee's home and heard their adoption stories. Don't get me wrong, I loved those moments in the film, but the thing that wreaked me as I watched the movie, both times, was how willing Dr. Lee and his wife were to just give their lives away for these "unwanted" children. Dr Lee never sleeps. His health is deteriorating. They have no money. They have a severely handicapped adult son along with the 15 other children they care fore full time. Plus the hundreds of babies they work to save through the box they've built on the side of their church/house. This couple is spending their lives on behalf of abandoned children. They have died to themselves. They have taken up their crosses. They think the big thoughts and feel the big feelings and then do something with them. They don't have Netflix. They don't know who Lady Mary is.

They are happy. They are joyful. They have hope. They love and live like Jesus. It is costing them everything.

Suddenly the responsibility of parenting Oliver doesn't feel so heavy. Suddenly this opportunity to love and teach this sweet boy exciting and full of anticipation for what is to come. Suddenly instead of thinking the big thoughts and turning on the TV, I find myself dreaming and hoping and believing big things for my son. God chose us to be parents to Oliver not because we are "super Christians" or because we know what we're doing or because we are rolling in the dough or because anything. God chose us because, through our "yes" to his invitation to adopt, He gets glory. And His glory is good for us.

Our adoption journey has been very public. Partially due to our efforts, and majorly because of God's efforts (check out my post on the AOL wildness). We want to show the world the love of the Father through our journey to Oliver. We want God to be so glorified through our growing family. He is the one making this all happen. He is the one setting the stage for a Christian family from America to adopt from an atheist, communist country. It's His story and it's for His glory and our good. We will be posting pictures and stories as much as possible while we are traveling and once we are home. We'd love for you to share our story with your friends and family. Share our blog. Share our facebook page.  Share our Instagram: @standard_goods. We believe God is going to show up in big ways while we are in Ch*na these next few weeks and we believe we will continue to see Him show up in big ways in the weeks after we get home. Our desire is to share what He has done and is doing and to see Him glorified in our testimony.

Thank you for your prayers and texts and emails this last week. I'll write a post tomorrow with our upcoming schedule and more specifics on how to pray while we are traveling.

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!