Twelve years ago, in a small hospital room, I lifted my newborn son into the air and handed him over to God. With a prayer that great love and prosperity would follow my son, I felt I was relinquishing my child into the care of my Heavenly Father as I relinquished him into the care of his adoptive parents. Assuming that, because of my prayer, all would go well after, I was shocked to discover the opposite in my life. However, I soon realized I wasn’t doing one last thing: relinquishing me.
I had forgotten to relinquish me when I sent my son with a prayer into the arms of God and a different family. Then I went back into the world with unbearable grief and loss that I could not deal with on my own. Understandably, the pain was far too great for the child that I still was. Without support, counseling, or any type of understanding of what the effects of relinquishment would be, I began to spiral out of control.
First came the denial that what I had done was permanent and the effects were unchangeable. Thus, I fought. I suppressed the grieving process and chose to move forward by resisting. This entailed fighting the agency for pictures and letters, calling news stations to see if they’d put my story on television, and hounding my father for what he remembered of what I had signed and what members of my adoption triad had said.
I thought, “This pain is not normal. Something must have gone wrong, and I must fix it.”
Then the anger. If something had gone wrong, it was God’s fault because I had prayed. Why wasn’t He listening? How could my parents have allowed me to relinquish my child? Didn’t anyone care?
Anger fueled my existence for a very long six years as I self-destructed. I punished myself, subconsciously, and attempted to “replace” my loss again and again. After eight years, I had nothing left but anger and the damage my pain had caused, both in my life and the lives of those around me. It felt was never-ending, and I felt like I was going crazy.
During a year of despair and weariness from fighting an emotional battle, I gave up.
The Bottom Line
Eventually, I reached some hard conclusions. No one can change what has already happened, but in the Bible God promises us “beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).
Since I could not provide what I wanted for my son, I relinquished him. Additionally, I could not provide what I wanted for me. So, I needed to relinquish myself as well. His strength is mightier than my anger ever can be. So, wanting the best for both myself and my son, I place us in God’s hands every day and choose to embrace hope instead pain.
My Personal Application
I relinquished myself, my adoption, and my son into the arms of God, but not to the end of just giving up and quietly retreating into silence. Consequently, letting God take control of the grief and the pain doesn’t mean that I forget my precious son. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to mourn.
If God required that I forget my past that has cultivated who I am now, why would He have, through prophets, recorded the histories of nations and peoples who preceeded me? In reality, it is from where I have come, and the ultimate glory of accomplishing something inspite of my pain, that I feel makes my story a triumph. It’s the same story that I hope can help others relinquish themselves so God can help them heal.
I asked myself, “Since I’ve already surrendered my child, what more do I have to lose? Surely there must be more to life than living with unbearable pain.”
Most of the following poem, “Relinquishing Me”, is taken directly from the NIV Bible, Isaiah chapters 59-61. Perhaps this can give you some strength, if you have found yourself (as I did) weary from struggling to make peace with your adoption, or if you have felt angry and helpless.
My heart conceived lies that I told
To myself when the truth was too much.
My soul feasted on every destruction,
And I am appalled at myself.
Filled with doubt, my breath grows short
As I cage every hope I can’t live without.
I’ve wrapped myself in garments of pain,
And dulled colors smeared by the rain.
Every silent cry born of tears
Is loosed by the loss of all these years.
I feast on the yoke of oppression.
Starvation is all I say I deserve
For living with this confession:
I surrendered my child at birth.
No matter what reasons I give,
They are knives set out to destroy me.
I seek greater solace for the act that I did,
When I wanted the best for my baby.
I ache for light, but darkness surrounds me.
Like a blind woman on a ledge,
I stumble along because life is hazy
And react to the world as if I were dead.
My growl is a frightening instinct.
My mourning like doves caught in traps.
I wake to seek peace in someone with comfort,
But no one seems sure of my act.
I guard these thoughts as if they’re worth
The destruction that I’ve caused.
By right, they’re mine, so shall I not keep
What is easier to lose?
Then up from within, from a place I’d forgotten,
Something comes to lay claim on my past.
A voice strong and gentle meekly speaks,
“What more can you live without?”
The only thing left to give up is me.
The damage that has thus far been done
And this pain seems fully wrung out,
Like the cloth of my anger that’s unwilling to cease.
I look past those who ignored
The consumming loss in my life
And give up the anger, the pain, and the strife—
My grief and my agony.
Then, I relinquish me.
My heart rejects the lies I told
To myself when the truth was too much.
My soul feasts no more on destruction,
But rather repents and gives it up.
Since my breath must be filled with total trust,
I let go and surrender my will.
For what else do I have left to lose,
But the punishment I sentenced me to.
Stepping humbly out of my cage,
I repent of my punishment’s existence.
Like a child, I hand over lock and key,
To the Life-Giver who saves my heart.
I give to Him the lies I told,
The feast I had,
The breath I breathed.
I admit to the cage,
To the growl,
And the grief,
To the pain,
To the loss,
And to me.
Then my Life-Giver looks and is sad,
For He sees how much I have suffered.
He notices no one else around,
So He lovingly intervenes.
With His arm, He worked salvation
And amazing righteous sustainment.
He wrapped Himself in zeal as His cloak
And asked only that I believe.
He pulled on His breastplate,
His helmet of salvation,
And His garments of grace—
All for me.
I had nothing left, and what I had tried
Had long since proven unfruitful.
My heart was filled with the weary release,
As I surrendered my soul to His work.
As He began, He offered a feast,
To which I was called to accept.
Then I fasted with hope,
And I prayed by faith.
Once I dwindled to nothing,
I laid down the pain.
When nothing was left,
My Life-Giver then
Found His way back in.
My heart was reborn again.
As I opened my eyes,
My ears could hear,
Him speaking this simple truth,
“I bind this broken heart.
“In fact, I proclaim it released in My Name.
Your mourning, I hold it in the palm of My hand,
And so promise:
You’ll never grieve alone again.
“I bestow on you a crown of beauty,
Instead of ashes you are not called to carry.
I give you joy that you might wear,
And a garment of great praise.
“Rather than a spirit of despair,
You shall be called righteous, My dear one.
You shall display of My splendor,
Set forth into the world.”
I could not help but ask,
With barely a whisper that day,
“Lord, but what about my child?
Is my baby going to be okay?”
For I could not surrender completely
Without knowing my baby was loved.
I could not let go of the grieving,
Without confirming what I wasn’t sure of.
“Will my baby hate me for living
In this new joy—this beauty, this love?
For that is a trade I’m not willing to make
If it costs me the love of my child.”
He answered, “Just as I have made you
A display of My splendor,
So too weave I threads through your blood.
I shall, of course, bless the child you love.”
My heart is filled with a promise
I never thought could really be.
So gladly I feast on the faith
That binds my child to me.
The garments I wear come from threads
Woven by the God,
Who tied and bound my pain
With the power and healing of His own Son’s blood.
Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.