I placed my baby for adoption. The following months of my life were dark days. I suffered from postpartum depression. I bounced from toxic relationship to toxic relationship. I drank too much. I failed all my college courses the semester following placement. I isolated myself from friends and family, angry at each and every one of them for not realizing how badly I needed help. I couldn’t handle the grief. For months, not a day went by that I didn’t cry because of how badly I missed my baby girl.

I placed my baby for adoption. One year later, life was hard. Eventually, I woke up and realized I was not who I wanted to be. I wasn’t someone my birth daughter could be proud of. So I got back on my feet for her. I went to therapy. I got on medication. I poured the time I had spent lying on my bed, filled with hatred and despair, into writing about how I felt. I wrote and I wrote, and one day I realized I wasn’t crying every day anymore. I quit drinking, and I reached out to my family, who welcomed me back with open arms. Once I allowed them to help me, they did. I stopped focusing on the mother-daughter relationship I didn’t have with my birth daughter and started being grateful for the open adoption relationship I did have.

I placed my baby for adoption. Two years later, life is good. I’m figuring out what a healthy relationship means. I hold down two jobs and go to school full-time. I am well on my way to my bachelor’s degree. My birth daughter and I are great friends. I miss her, but it’s more sweet than bitter now. I know that I will see her soon and that we will have the best time together. I might still be a little broken, but I am whole. Placing my baby for adoption was, and is, the hardest thing I have ever done. It has changed my life forever. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than it would have been had my little girl not made her mark on my heart.

So what will life be like after placing your baby? It will be exactly what you make of it.

For more firsthand stories about placing a child for adoption, visit Adopting.org.