Silvia Aguiar says she is haunted every single day by questions she believes no mother should ever have to ask herself.
"Where is she? Who has her? What did they do to her?" she wonders about the child she gave birth to about four decades ago.
Her daughter Milagros was born May 17, 1977 to a mother who was just a child herself.
Aguiar became pregnant at age 16. The daughter of a struggling, Cuban exile father, Aguiar was often left without parental supervision while he worked. It was not long before she landed in Florida's foster care system, then overseen by the now-defunct Department of Human Rehabilitative Services.
Aguiar told South Florida's NBC 6 that she and her newborn were placed in a Carol City foster home where she was sexually abused by her foster parents' older son. Aguiar said she and Milagros were separated after her foster sister made the sexual abuse known.
"You don't rob a child from a mother when she hasn't done nothing wrong," Aguiar said.
At about the time Milagros turned 1, Aguiar and her baby's father were sent letters to appear at Miami's Juvenile Justice Center, where Aguiar fears she may have signed her parental rights away without knowing it.
"I signed a paper that she gave me, a board with a paper," she said, adding that the baby's father signed it too. "Then, I said, 'OK, so where do we go,' and she goes, 'No, that's it. The baby was put up for adoption.' I was like, 'How could you do that,' and I got really upset, and she goes, 'Listen, you abandoned your daughter,' and she goes, 'If you don't leave quietly, we're going to have you removed out of here."
Aguiar believes HRS had Milagros adopted, without her knowledge.
NBC 6 reached out to the Department of Children and Family Services, but they could not comment on the case.
Aguiar now lives in New Jersey, and has other children and grandchildren. Now that she is battling lupus and other ailments, she is desperate to reconnect with Milagros. In recent months, she has launched Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and blog sites in hopes her firstborn will find her before it's too late.
"I just want to tell her that I love her and I didn't give her up for adoption, and I want her to know her family," Aguiar said.
More Local Stories: