This story is reprinted from The Fresno State Alumni Association as written by Marisa Mata. Originally published in the November 2016 issue of the Fresno State Alumni Association Newsletter.
In March of 2015 Tim and Amber Kanallakan (2006) anxiously boarded a plane to China, where they would finally meet their son, Oliver.
The couple began the adoption process two years earlier, but adoption was something Amber always knew she wanted to do — she still has journal entries that she wrote at the age of seven about wanting to adopt. It was also at this young age that Tim and Amber first met.
“My wife and I had many conversations of adoption and knew that God wanted it to be a part of our family’s story. My wife and I could not agree on the timeline of events, so while she was patiently waiting for me to be ‘all in,’ she started an amazing orphan care ministry at our local church and began teaching seminars on adoption and foster care for a Fresno based organization called City Without Orphans. Once I heard God say ‘go’ and felt confident in proceeding, we officially began the process of adoption.”
Because of Tim’s career in prosthetics, the Kanallakans decided that they wanted to adopt a child with a limb difference; this limited them to adopting from China.
In December of 2014, after a year of fundraising, Amber got the call from their social worker.
“…she 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…she said he was missing his right hand. [She] said she would email us the file and include photos at the end,” Amber wrote about the experience in her blog.
“I called Tim as soon as I hung up with the social worker…Tim came home, and without saying anything, we went straight to our room and opened the laptop…Sitting on our knees, at the foot of our bed, we saw the face of our son, Oliver, for the first time.”
Dates on the referral made the Kanallakans realize that Oliver was conceived around the time that Tim agreed to start the adoption process.
“That felt really significant. The Lord knew — I’m creating your son, start the process now. We are excited to tell him one day, ‘There was never a time when you were unwanted,’” Amber said, as quoted in the Visalia Times-Delta.
Three months later, Tim and Amber were on a plane to China to get Oliver, and he has been a Kanallakan for almost two years now.
Tim said, “It was a huge and traumatic transition for him to go from an institution in China to the suburban life in Visalia. Things like cars and car seats were totally new. He had never seen a dog before meeting our pup, George, and he was terrified of him for weeks. We still have more challenges ahead, [but] it has already been such a beautiful thing to watch him flourish as our son.”
One thing Tim and Amber want to make sure Oliver grows up knowing is that he is complete with or without his right hand. Tim plans to build him one as he gets older, and guesses that Oliver will need a mechanical hand once he is a teenager, but now, with only his left hand, Oliver is still “incredibly mobile.”
“I graduated from the Smittcamp Honors College in 2006 with a B.S. in kinesiology-exercise science. I then went to California State University, Dominguez Hills for a graduate certificate in prosthetics, followed by a distance learning program through the University of Hartford for a certificate in orthotics. I am a certified prosthetist orthotist.”
“Amber also graduated from Fresno State in 2006, with a degree in child development. She is an amazing woman who continually inspires me. We make an awesome team.”