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, and that there would be a great purpose in this act, I relinquished my child into the care of my Heavenly Father. Assuming that because of my prayer, all would work well, I was shocked to discover the opposite for my life. I realized that I had forgotten to do one other thing.
I had forgotten to relinquish me. I sent my son into the arms of God with a prayer and then I went back into the world with an unbearable grief and loss that I could not deal with on my own. The pain was far too great for the child that I still was, and without support, counseling, or any type of understanding of what the effects of relinquishment were … I began to spiral out of control.
First, the denial that what I had done was permanent and the effects of the act were un-changeable. I fought. I suppressed the grieving and chose to move forward by action. 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 had been 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’d prayed. Why wasn’t He listening? How could my parents have allowed me to relinquish my child? Didn’t anyone care?
The 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 the anger and the damage that my pain had caused, in my life and in the lives of those around me. It was never-ending. I was going crazy.
In a year of despair and weariness from fighting an emotional battle to which I had no weaponry … I laid down and gave up.
Most of the following poem, “Relinquishing Me,” is taken directly from the NIV Bible, Isaiah Chapters 59-61. If you, like me, have found yourself weary of struggling for peace in your adoption, or if you like me, have been angry and felt helpless, perhaps this will give you strength.
We cannot change what has already happened, but 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).
I could not provide the very best for my son, so I relinquished him. I could not provide the very best for me … so I relinquished myself as well. I could not begin to provide the blessings and purposes that I pray will one day join us together again … but God can. His strength is mightier than my anger ever could be. So, wanting the best for both myself and my son … I place us in God’s Hands and begin to take action by hope, instead of pain.
Isaiah 66:9 – 23 are verses that speak of pain with a purpose. This is what my NIV student bible writes about the section: “Nowhere does the book of Isaiah minimize the pain Israel went through; the prophet shared the nation’s agony. But God makes clear that the pain was not arbitrary and purposeless. In one last word of triumph, God reaffirms that the suffering of the Israelites will one day lead to a great missionary outreach among all humanity.”
I relinquished myself and my adoption and my son into the arms of God, not so that I could give up and quietly retreat into silence, but so that the pain would therefore fulfill a great purpose. For some birthmothers, this purpose is in changing laws, helping single mothers, or going on to become powerful individuals that make enormous differences. For some, this may mean that where there were closed doors, now there are open windows. Letting God take control of the grief and the pain doesn’t mean that we forget, it doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to mourn, and it doesn’t require us to deny our precious children.
If God required that we forget our pasts, the very history that has cultivated us into who we are now .. why then would He have, through prophets, recorded the histories of the nations and the peoples before us? It is from where we have come, what God has done through us and for us, and the ultimate glory of accomplishing purpose through pain that makes the greatest stories of all time … the same stories that teach us to relinquish our own human needs so that God can release His ultimate purposes.
I asked myself … I’ve surrendered my child … what more do I have to lose? Surely there must be more to life than living this unbearable pain.
My heart has conceived lies that I told
To myself when the truth was too much.
My soul has feasted on every iniquity
And I am appalled at myself.
My breath is short and filled with doubt,
As I cage every hope I can’t live without.
I’ve wrapped myself in garments of pain,
Dulled colors, smeared by the rain,
Of every silent cry born into tears,
Let loose from within this loss all these years.
I feast on the yoke of oppression,
Starvation is all I deserve,
For keeping within this confession,
That I surrendered my child at birth.
No matter what reasons I give,
They are knives set out to destroy me.
Justice refuses to solace the act that I did,
When I wanted the best for my baby.
I ache for light, but darkness surrounds me,
I am a blind woman on a ledge.
I stumble along, as if it were hazy,
And re-act to the world as if I were dead.
My growl is a frightened instinct,
My mourning like doves caught in traps.
I wake looking for justice, but find none;
Find no one, to validate my act.
I guard these things as if they’re worth,
The destruction that they’ve caused.
By right, they’re mine, so shall I keep
What is easy to keep lost.
And up from within, a lost place I’d forgotten,
Something comes to lay claim on my past.
With a voice strong and gentle it speaks,
“What more can you live without ?” It asks,
The only thing left to give up is me.
For the damage has thus far been done,
And this pain seems stagnantly wrung,
Out like the cloth of my anger that never does cease
To remind me of those who’ve avoided
The loss that has taken my life.
So I give up the anger, the pain, and the strife,
The grief, and the agony.
And then, I relinquish me.
My heart must reject the lies that I told
To myself when the truth was too much.
My soul must not feast on my iniquities,
But rather repent and give them up.
My breath must be filled with total trust,
As I let go and surrender my will.
For what else do I have left to loose,
Than the punishment I have sentenced me too.
Stepping out of my cage I humbly
Repent of it’s very existence to start.
Like a child I hand over lock and key,
To the Life-Giver who takes my heart.
I give to Him the lies I told,
The feast I took,
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 looked and was displeased.
For He saw there had been no justice.
He noticed no one else around,
He was appalled that no one intervened.
So, with His arm he worked salvation,
An amazing righteous sustainment;
As He pulled on His breastplate,
The helmet of salvation,
His garments of vengeance .. all for me.
As He wrapped Himself in Zeal as His cloak,
He asked only that I believe.
I had nothing left, and what I had tried,
Had long since proved not to work.
My heart was filled with weary release,
As I surrendered to His work within me.
As He began He offered a feast,
To which I was called to accept.
Great purpose will come to you, he said,
As I let loose of every iniquity.
I fasted on hope,
I prayed by faith,
And when dwindled down to nothing,
I even laid down the pain.
When nothing was left,
My Life-Giver then
found His way back in.
My heart was re-born again.
As I opened my eyes,
As my ears could hear,
“I bind up this broken heart,
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 care not called to carry,
I give you joy, that you might wear
And a garment of praise,
Not a spirit of despair.
You shall be called righteous my dear one,
A planting of my own accord
For the display of my splendor,
Set forth into the world.”
I could not help but to 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 believing my baby was loved.
I could not let go of the grieving,
Without believing the one thing 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,
if it costs me the love of my child.
And he answered, “Just as I have made you
A display of my splendor,
So have I made the threads of your blood.
For your repentance, the acceptance of me,
So shall I too bless the child you love.”
My heart is filled with a promise
I never knew could really be.
My soul feasts on the faith that
Now does bind my child to me.
The garments I wear come from threads
Woven by the very God,
Who tied and bound my purpose
With the power and healing of His own child’s Blood.