The time has come to face the reality that in 3 1/2 weeks I am leaving for China to go get my girl. I am overwhelmed to say the least. I began this process in October 2005 when the wait was 6-8 months and with each month, each year, I never thought I'd see this time. I'd like to think I'm a good financial manager but like many families, especially those single like me the task of having large amounts of money sitting around to fund an adoption just isn't that easy. I make a decent living and I live in a nice, safe community in a one-bedroom apartment. It's a great neighborhood and I am thrilled that I will be able to bring Emme here where she will be able to walk to the park, play in the grass and make angels in the snow. It sounds simply fabulous and it is. So I had my grand plan; I scrimped and saved to be able to take care of the initial costs in 2005, 2006, 2007 and now the major expenses in 2008. Luckily it's been incremental which has been a huge help. I applied for a few grants but I wasn't married or the right faith for the organizations I applied to. I tried to cut back a little more when my student loan repayment was DOUBLED. I knew it was coming in the back of my head. Some people may think having a large student loan indebtedness is not worth it but I would have to disagree. Dropping out of high school at 16 never had me think I would ever go to college, let alone earn a graduate degree with distinction. I affectionately refer to those framed pieces of paper as my "mortgage". Like many I can afford the day to day expenses like food, clothes, medical care and a few extras which is why I felt confident in my ability to care for a child. I saved, I started a 403B account and I took out life insurance to protect my future child. Well the future is now the present and I am as ready as I am going to be. Along with all the positives, 2007/2008 was a tough year for me. In 2007, I needed over $6,000 of dental work and in March of this year my car was totaled in an accident caused by another vehicle. So with all the preparations I made, I ended up here, worrying, stressing, stretching. In the past I was never sure how I felt about fundraising for an adoption and then I realized that every year I have worked since I am 18 I have given back to someone, some organization or some cause. I believe in being a good neighbor and a socially responsible person. I believe in being a contributing member of society. So with all that said and done, I am honored to have a GIVEAWAY for a free blog makeover/design courtesy of Danielle who I have come to know over the past few months. She is a very talented graphic artist who has an affinity for adoptive families and who graciously offered to give her time in honor of my daughter Emme. So if you want to be among those of us lucky enough to have her beautiful designs, you can donate $10 for each chance at winning. Check out her blog for more details.