It's what they talk about in movies and soap operas: 15 years old, Catholic and pregnant. The daughter of a well-known policeman, pregnant to the son of a well-known Catholic school principal. The shame. The embarrassment. The scandal.
Well, that was me, the 15-year-old girl, and from the moment I snuck to the doctors to have my suspected pregnancy confirmed, my life changed forever.
For me, the decision to adopt my baby out was fairly black and white. My mother, who offered to bring up my baby for me, had already had her children (me and my sister); it was the same for my baby's father's family.
The father of the baby and I could have gone on to bring up our baby ourselves, but seriously, how do a 15 and 17-year-old look after themselves in the world, let alone a precious wee baby?
Against some wider family's wishes, I made my decision. And my decision was to offer this precious life the best life I could. For me, that was to give her to a family - an amazing family.
Now, it wasn't as simple as that - in fact, it was incredibly difficult and heart-wrenching. But I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I was doing the right thing.
With processes and red tape to go through, I was on the path to adopting out my baby. I read through CVs of prospective parents - can you imagine how difficult that is? - and I wanted to meet the parents of my baby, too.
Once the decision of who would get my baby was made, it was just a matter of waiting. Waiting for baby. My mother was with me on the entire journey; she was my rock. After a sleepless day and night, at 5pm my baby was born. When my mother told me it was a girl, I remember my first words were: "[The adopted mother] will be happy." I knew she wanted a baby girl.
I had my baby for 10 days. For 10 days, she was mine. When I left the hospital that day, I gave her a kiss, but I never said goodbye, for I knew it wasn't going to be goodbye. And on the day she went home with her family, my heart broke into pieces.
Our adoption was an open adoption, and for that I am forever grateful. I've had the pleasure and privilege of watching my baby girl grow up - she's always known about me, and we've always been in each others' lives. It's been 24 years now. She's an amazing woman, which no doubt stems from the amazing family I picked for her all those years ago.
Yes, I got the 'why did you do it' letter from her. I had been expecting it to come eventually, and it was her right to ask that question. I couldn't help thinking how brave she was to post that letter to me; I admired that.
I answered as openly and honestly as I could - there were a number of tears shed writing my reply, as I'm sure there were from her when she wrote her initial letter.
So I'm blessed. Not only do I have a daughter that I know and love, I have extra love in my life from her mum and dad and family that I wouldn't have had if I hadn't made that decision. I'm blessed because my young boys have an amazing sister, and an amazing extra family in their lives. I'm so blessed.
Adoption, for me, is something that is part of my every day. It's not all romantic though - I do feel as though there's a scar on my heart. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about the adoption, and my baby girl. Yes, I do have those 'what if' days, but don't we all?
For want of a better word, being an 'adopter' has made my life more full, and given me more love.
And for all the tears and heartache, I wouldn't change a thing if I had my time again.
My life changed forever when I decided to adopt, and so did my baby's life. Reflecting on what has been, I think we've both been blessed and had an incredibly wonderful adoption experience.