I know God called me to write this blog, share my story, and keep it real. But here is the problem… I have only had so many experiences and can only relate to a limited number of people with them.
However, I realized that I am surrounded by moms/women that have such beautiful stories and I want to use this space to bless you with the bravely shared stories of others.
There is something so beautiful in knowing that you are not alone.
This is my friend Amber… She is a fellow mom, wife, daughter, friend and blogger. Her “Yes” Legacy is where you will be able to find more of her great stories. I particularly love this one. She is brave, bold, and daring all in the name of Jesus. (Now you can see why I love her…) Truly, it is such an honor to have her here today. So without further ado… Here is Amber’s MOMentous Monday.
My adoption dream began around age seven after accidently finding a picture in one of my mom’s Women’s Health books of a screaming lady with a baby coming out of her “lady parts.” I was traumatized and asked my mom what my options were. Sure I wanted to have kids someday but, dear Lord, not like that. She humored me and, after putting the book on a higher shelf, talked to me about adoption. A seed was planted in my little-girl-heart that day.
Fast forward about 20 years. I’m married to my high school sweet-heart with two young kiddos who entered this world just like that Women’s Health book said they would. My husband had finished school and was working as a prosthetist, building legs and arms for amputees. We were settling into life nicely.
A few months after our second child was born, God began to tap on my dream to adopt. I talked with my husband and he gave a firm “not now.” This threw us into a two year battle of “who hears God best” and me trying to manipulate my husband’s emotions. One afternoon, after crying out to God over the situation and the unrest it was bringing to our marriage, God very clearly told me to back off my husband and to trust in His perfect timing. It was almost exactly one year later when my husband came home from work and announced that, for some unknown reason, he felt like it was time to start the adoption process. My jaw dropped and my heart stopped. It was “go time.”
After about six weeks of pursuing adoption through the county via foster to adopt, we realized God was shutting down that specific road to our son or daughter. We began to pray about international adoption and were shocked at how quickly a path to China began to take shape. Because of my husband’s job as a prosthetist and his passion and skill set in serving amputees, we specifically requested our agency look to match us with a child with limb difference.
We spent the next year fundraising and filling out paperwork and on August 19th, 2015, we submitted our dossier to China. Around noon on December 9th, I noticed a missed call from our social worker. I still have the voicemail saved on my phone. She said she had an “early Christmas present” for us and to call her back right away. My husband ran home from work and we sat on the edge of our bed and read the file of a seven-month-old baby boy, missing his right hand, living in an orphanage in Nanjing, China. I remember saying, “I’ll be his mommy.” My husband replied with, “Let’s go get him and bring him home.”
The next couple of months were a blur. Our travel approval came in record time and by mid-March, we were on a plane to China. On March 16th our son, Oliver, was handed to us at the Civil Affairs office in Nanjing. He was too terrified to cry and so he just slept.
We landed at the Fresno airport two weeks later and introduced our son and daughter to their new brother. It was a dream fulfilled and it was magical.
Oliver’s story is not that he was “destined to be a Kanallakan.” God didn’t “orphan” Oliver in order to fulfill my childhood dream of adoption. Oliver’s story is that, for whatever reason, his China mommy and daddy couldn’t take care of him. Maybe it was their choice. Maybe it was a grandparent’s choice. Maybe it was the government’s choice. Regardless of who made the decision to abandon him, there are grieving parents on the other side of the world who will remain a part of our son’s life through words of honor and respect and gratefulness because, though they didn’t choose to parent, they did choose life for their/our son.
God has always been on the scene. His heart broke for Oliver’s reality. He wept with Oliver’s birth mother as she processed what she might have felt was her only option (or didn’t process because it wasn’t her choice). He hated the pain that this broken world was heaping onto this family. But God had a good plan to take something that the enemy would have loved to see end in death and turn it into family and hope and a future.
When we received the file of a seven-month-old baby boy and saw that his birthday was estimated to be at the end of April, our faith grew a hundred-full. We realized that after two years of arguing over the “when” of our adoption and God telling me to trust His timing, He really had been at work the whole time. That last week of July, when my husband came home and “randomly” said it was time to start pursuing adoption, was the week Oliver was conceived. At the very same time God was knitting Oliver in our hearts, he was knitting Oliver together in his China mommy’s womb. Oliver’s story is that he has never been unloved or unwanted. From the moment of conception, we were coming after him.
International adoption is costly on many levels. On an earthly level, it is just straight up expensive. On an emotional and spiritual level, the fulfillment of my dream to adopt came at the cost of a mother losing her child. Adoption cost Oliver the loss of his country, his native language, his culture, and his birth family. In many ways, adoption is messy and confusing and heart breaking and heavy.
But adoption is also beautiful because God is in the business of taking what has been broken and restoring it into something more lovely then we could have ever imagined. He is a good Redeemer and Refiner and Father to the fatherless. And in His love for Oliver, He set in motion a plan for his life that began to take shape over 20 years ago in my young heart. What a privilege and honor it has been to get to participate in this story of hope and love and healing. We have great expectations for the future and know that when God begins a good work, He is faithful to bring it to completion. He is the author and finisher of our faith and it is good and worth it to dream with Him.
Amber Kanallakan is wife to her high school crush and a work-at-home mother of three. She is passionate about adoption, macarons, and funny Instagram posts. Amber’s blog is www.heryeslegacy.com and her mission is to share stories of risk and “yes” in the hopes that others will be encouraged to go all in and bet on the faithfulness of God. Follow her beautifully messy life on IG: @heryeslegacy.