Twenty-one years ago, I gave birth to twins.

I was 19 years old, but maturity-wise, I was closer to 16. I had a lot of growing up to do, especially since my reason for wanting a baby wasn't a good one.

I was looking for love - someone who would love me no matter what I did - and thought that having a baby would provide that for me.

You've read some of my stories. My need for love and attention comes as no surprise, even though I didn't understand it then. What I wasn't prepared for was the depth of love. It reached out with its muscled arms and gripped me tight.

I knew that it wasn't fair. Not to them. They were special. Two special little boys that needed much, much more than I could give them.

Their father had taken off, leaving me with the words, "I'm falling in love with you again, but I want out." I had moved back into my parents home. I was on track with a good job.

It wasn't enough - not for them. They needed - deserved - a complete family. A family that would offer them everything I couldn't. A family that included love, both parents, and financial stability.

I still remember the day I called my mother on the phone. I took the twins to a babysitter for an appointment that I had. Being away from them tore at my heart, but I knew that I would be doing the right thing.

I called my mother and said her the words that would change her life forever (and mine, and theirs): "I made up my mind. You can have the boys."

Then I ran as far away as I could.

My heart was shattered.

Ten years later, I was pregnant again. It was unplanned and unexpected. Again, I wasn't married. The father wasn't in the picture. I didn't have a place to live, though I did have a job. My parents and I were on the outs.

"Why don't you give up this baby for adoption, too?" my mom suggested.

"No." I was adamant. There was no way I could do that again. None. I was older this time. I could do this. I would do this.

And here I sit, 11 years later. I'm married now, with another child. I have a home, though I'm not working outside of it. My husband does his best to provide for us.

I look at my twins, now 21 years old. I reflect on the life they've had as my legal brothers (still a difficult concept for me to get my head around). They've had a good life. They've done so many things that they never would have done if I'd been their parent.

The other day my daughter asked, "How come you didn't give me up for adoption?"

I didn't know where to begin. Our life in the beginning wasn't easy. I worked hard to take care of her. I had a 3-year relationship with a man just to make sure she had a father in her life (we'll discuss that bastard another day). She didn't get to do things other kids could. 

Though people in our lives have always blessed us by giving her things - clothing, toys, shoes, she still didn't get to do things. Things that would make her life richer. We'd talk about her playing this or that, or taking dance lessons. For the early years of her life, it was never something I could afford. So we went without.

We went without a lot of things. We never took vacations. Our highlights were Sunday walks downtown and the possibility of ice cream. Just me and her. It was a blast.

Even now, she doesn't get to do the things she wants to do. If we can afford the fees, we can't afford the supplies, so she goes without. Her brother is old enough now to participate in things. I want them both to be able do things.

So, how do I justify that I gave the twins up and they got to do all these fabulous things, but kept her, and she can't?

"Mom, how come you didn't give me up for adoption, too?"

"Because I couldn't."

No, the first time almost killed me. There's no way I could have done it again. She saved me. I wonder to this day what my life would be like without her. I don't know if that was fair to her or not. All I know is that she looks at all the twins can do, knowing that the probability of her being able to do that is slim.

And I feel guilty.

Doesn't she deserve the same thing?