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Exchanges: Open Adoption. No I didn't get money for my baby.

Updated: May 15

"Exchanges" is a new creative project by Sarah Poet. It's a compilation of vignettes about various dynamics of energy exchange, collected through experience, for the reader to contemplate. 1) What was the exchange? 2) What resources - monetary & non-monetary- were involved? 3) What was spoken and what was unspoken about the exchange agreement? I am fascinated by the topic of human exchanges. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.



I was eighteen when I had my first child. Certainly old enough to have birthed and raised that child, but also, on the cusp. I could have, but I didn’t. 


My mother really wanted me to go to college, and to “make something of myself,” and preferably get married before I had a child. I was doing things in the wrong order, it would seem. Money was, of course, cited as a major reason why I couldn't raise her.


This is not a complete adoption story. This is a smaller one. 


My daughter was born in a hospital and I knew I’d have 72 hours with her. I’d chosen her parents, they would be called. They would be on their way to come get her. 


Shhh…. I only had 72 hours. 


She was nine pounds three ounces and of course, perfection. 


There was nothing in me that didn’t want to keep her. I wanted to keep her, of course I did. She was my daughter. She is my daughter. She’s now 23 years old. 


Before I get to my point, you’ll want to know why I didn’t keep her. It’s complex, and I could tease it out if we had hours or days to do the teasing. I will say that I was confused, impressionable, already having been groomed and manipulated to give over my power as a way of life. I was brainwashed into thinking that her biological father, whom I loved, was evil.


I felt so confused, like how hadn’t I seen it? My parents, apparently, could see it, and they invested a lot of energy into convincing me of it.


And, it wasn’t just done to me. I also knew, somewhere deep in me, that this child was better off being adopted. I chose her parents. Out of books and books of profiles, they were the only ones I would have chosen. Them or me. A shaman gave me a message much later that my daughter was nothing but grateful, because she had to meet up with those parents in this lifetime. They had work to do together.


I felt like the messenger. The harbinger. We listened to this song over and over again when I was pregnant called Fugitive and the lyrics say, “I'm harboring a fugitive, a defector of a kind

And she lives in my soul and drinks of my wine, And I'd give my last breath to keep us alive… “ 


And that’s how I felt. Of course, she’d done nothing wrong. She was perfect. Round, hairy head and big bold eyes. Everything about her was exactly as I’d imagined with her in my womb. 


Through the pregnancy, I waitressed and took a few college credits, but mostly, I sat with her. I felt every minute. I only had nine months, I wasn’t going to waste it. 


I cherished it. I loved being pregnant - despite the judging eyes in the small town, or the forty pounds I gained as a teenager, or the gestational diabetes and all the medical appointments. I absolutely loved my time with her. I knew her so closely. I knew her soul. 


In two decades of an open adoption, there has never been anything she’s ever done that has surprised me. I knew her essence. Her soul lived in my body. She is the most beautiful daughter I could ever imagine and this was her entry. This is my story. Both are sacred. It is perfect. 


And so, when the pretty girl with blond curls, a year older than me in high school, started a rumor that I was paid for my baby, it did not make any sense to me. 


I was baffled. She cheapened the experience. I was in the realm of souls and the sacred, I was a mother and then I wasn't, and she was imagining it had something to do with money?


I was a few weeks postpartum when I heard. I was grieving and grieving alone, as an eighteen year old living in my parents' basement without my beautiful nine pound baby. I had her cap from the hospital that still smelled like her newborn head (I can still smell it now) and I’d put it to my nose in between sobs and suck in the scent. I had photos, I had this cap, I had a huge mound of stomach where she had been, and I had little else. 


And this bitch was spreading a rumor that I'd done it all for $20K and a new car. 




Open adoption story
Some things can't be bought.


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