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I am the epitome of darkness. The haze across my face is no mistake; so there's no need for you to do a double-take. I've lost the zeal to live. These were my feelings approximately seventeen years ago.

"How could you have done what you did and still live with yourself?" my family asked.

"How do you live with a clear conscious knowing someone else in the world is raising your child, your blood?" my friends asked.

Did they really think that I would have relinquished my child if I really had any other option? Abortion was not an option to me. What was I supposed to do? I couldn't afford to care for myself, much less a child. It was hard to carry my daughter for nine months, knowing the whole time that upon delivery, she would be going home with a family, but not mine.

Does anyone think about how I must have felt all those months? How and why would anyone think I was selfish in placing my child for adoption? If I could, I honestly would have raised my child on my own. I could have been selfish and attempted to care for her, but I knew she would only suffer for my past irresponsibility. I do not regret her birth; I do regret the fact that I was not at a place in my life that I could raise a child while raising myself.

It's been years now, and each time I see a teenage girl at the mall, I wince at the pain I feel. It still hurts, and I think it always will. I took a thorn to grow a rose, and I can't wait to meet with her some day.

So how do I live with myself? I've graduated high school and college, made something of myself that my children are proud of and that my daughter can some day be proud of as well.

Have I forgotten her? No. Can we birth parents ever forget our 'lost' children? No. A hole forever exists, sometimes even after reunion. Knowing our children may thank us for allowing someone else to raise them may be gratitude on their part, but once again, we feel the thorn but take it without a tear. To ensure our babies (5, 10, 45, or 60 years old) are alive and well is all we wish.

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