Families come in all shapes and sizes. What intrigues us about them is that no two are alike, no two are composed of the same people, the same talent or, commonly, not even the same genetic makeup. Sometimes, families come together easily while others take a little more planning, but what truly matters is that when family is established — you’re home. You’re rooted in acceptance, support and love no matter what country you’re in.
For Amber and Tim Kanallakan, their family story is on the verge of a new chapter. We had the privilege of learning more about what prompted them to not only adopt, but to internationally adopt a child with a limb difference. Though a long road, it’s one they’ve been walking with faith, confidence, and even a little bit of creativity, opening their own leather goods shop to help offset the adoption costs. We’re pleased to feature them as Confidants today, truly embodying what it means to prioritize the most important of relationships.
Darling Magazine: Why adopt a child specifically with limb difference?
Amber: Since the early days of our relationship, my husband Tim and I discussed the possibility of adoption being a part of our family’s story. We got married in 2005 and our son, Sawyer, was born a few years later. In March of 2010, when Sawyer was 16 months old, Tim and I traveled to Haiti to work in a prosthetic clinic, caring for adults and children who had recently lost a limb (or limbs) due to the earthquake. While preparing for our trip, we met another prosthetist who had recently adopted a son with limb difference. We were incredibly inspired by his story and began to wonder if a similar adoption adventure was in the plan for our family. As we began to talk and pray more seriously about pursuing adoption, we developed an interest in China. We knew that through our time in Haiti and the skills and talents God had given Tim and I, that we were being prepared to love and care for a child with limb difference.
DM: What was the response of your friends and family when you told them about wanting to adopt a child from overseas?
Amber: We have been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we’ve received from friends and family. There have been times where we have had to answer some very hard questions, but that is completely to be expected. For some, the idea of adoption is close to their heart and easy to understand. For others, adoption feels very unfamiliar, scary and risky. It has been such a gift to walk through our process with loved ones on both sides of the fence. Talking with those who are less comfortable with our decision has allowed for us to really get a clear vision and language for what we are doing and why we are doing it. Those conversations have brought confidence, an increased faith, and given a renewed sense of purpose to our journey.
DM: How hard is the process of adopting a child, especially in China?
Amber: The adoption process looks different for each family, country and child. It is all hard, and all so worth it. We have many friends who have adopted through the foster care system and have endured months and sometimes years of waiting to see the adoption of their child finalized. We have other friends who have been waiting years for a placement from Ethiopia. And still, we have other friends who brought their son home from the hospital just weeks after submitting their final paperwork.
The adoption process looks different for each family, country and child. It is all hard, and all so worth it.
The process of bringing our child home from China includes lots of paperwork, fundraising, doctor’s appointments, notary visits, parent trainings, and research. Our home study has taken us about eight weeks to finish and our dossier (the packet of paperwork to be sent to China to prove we are who we say we are) will take us approximately 3-4 months to complete. For many families adopting internationally, the financial burden is often the hardest part of the adoption process. We are estimating our total cost for adopting from China to be around $25,000.
DM: How has your Etsy shop, Standard Goods, improved your adoption situation?
Amber: We knew we would be fundraising most of the costs involved in bringing our child home and, therefore, would need to think outside the box. A lot. Through what seemed, at the time, to be a very random series of events, we began to design and sell handmade leather iPhone cases and wallets. As our sales increased more and more, we began to add products like our dark leather clutch and camera strap. In less than five months, we had sold over 150 leather pieces and had shipped product to 35 states. Our prayer is that through the sales of our Standard Goods shop we can pay for the travel expenses involved in both getting to China and returning home.
DM: How has your marriage grown and been strengthened through this adoption process? What advice would you share with a couple considering adoption?
Amber: In the early phases of our adoption conversations, we were not always in agreement on details like timing and finances. Rather than force something to happen in the midst of our differences, we chose to wait until we were in unity on even the smallest details. Though the wait was difficult, it was vital, and there is something so refreshing about walking this road as a united front. It has also been sweet to see how both Tim and my gifts and skills have complimented each other during these early stages of our adoption journey. There are many opportunities for the stress and heavy load of paperwork to cause friction and division, but instead I’ve seen us grow in our communication and problem solving skills.
…we chose to wait until we were in unity on even the smallest details. Though the wait was difficult, it was vital, and there is something so refreshing about walking this road as a united front.
For couples considering adoption, I strongly suggest doing as much research as possible before taking any major steps forward or backward. Read books, interview other adoptive families, attend adoption agency orientations, etc. There were so many pieces that we thought we understood and the further in to the process we got, the more we realized we were completely ignorant to many of the issues we would soon be facing. The other encouragement I’d give to families considering adoption is don’t let the fear of finances hold you back. There are many “affordable” adoption options (foster to adopt is basically free) and even in the more expensive international or private domestic adoptions there are many awesome grant and loan options to help make it possible.
DM: When do you expect to bring home your new little one?
Amber: If we are able to maintain the pace at which we are currently working and are able to bring in the funds needed, we hope to have a match by this summer and be flying to China around February of next year.
DM: What is the number one thing that keeps you encouraged to continue with this journey?
Amber: The further we get into this adoption adventure, the more convinced I am that I have a child waiting for me in China. This reality creates urgency in my heart that continues to grow stronger each day, providing motivation and encouragement to keep moving forward.