A Slow Surrender

Sometimes letting go doesn’t come easily or quickly.

by Priscilla Tate Gilmore

Last Saturday morning was my turn to call my adopted daughter for our mother-daughter bonding time. After the initial exchange of weekly events, Katie* announced, “I found and talked with my birth mom, and I was thinking we could meet sometime. What do you think?”

I couldn’t believe she said that!

The conversation stopped dead. Fear overtook me, and I started to hyperventilate. Breathe, I reminded myself. Wow, this is a shocker! How am I going to deal with this?

Katie spoke emphatically. “Mom? Mom, did you hear me?”

“Yes, I heard you. I will have to call you back. I love you.”

Hearing from God

My mind flitted about, searching for something to grab on to. The words of God pierced my heart, as if He were standing in the kitchen lovingly and gently rebuking me:

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand” (Isaiah 14:24).

Then He asked me, “Who made Katie? Who placed her in your home? Is she your child?”

Repentant heart

Tears streamed down my face like water from a broken dam. I called my daughter back with a repentant heart. After I asked forgiveness for my roller coaster response to her answered prayer, the conversation went smoothly. I ended it with “Honey, I will be waiting for your call next Saturday. Call in the middle of the week if you have any exciting news, OK?”

Katie answered with “OK, Mom. I love you and I forgive you.” She added without hesitating, “You are my mom.”

Examples of faith

I hung up the phone and prayed, “Oh, God, I am so scared, and You know my pain. This is new territory for me, and it hurts. Please show me what to do.”

I sat at the kitchen table and dumped all my emotions on Him. Different Bible verses I’ve treasured in my heartovershadowed lingering thoughts about my conversation with Katie. Then the pages of my Bible flew open to Hebrews 11. There I read about men and women who had obeyed when they didn’t know where the road they were traveling would take them. God helped them every step of the way. Still, I asked, “But why is it so hard to surrender, Lord?”

Focus in faith

Knowing my struggle, my friends prayed that I would obey and that God would give me strength to follow His direction for my life. Still, my heart ached and tears flowed.

Returning to the Bible, I read that the people in Hebrews 11 focused on God and the Scriptures. They went through the faith process. And so must I, I thought. I remembered that everything that happens works for divine purpose. Though this challenge came out of nowhere for me, God has a plan for everything and has everything under control. He told Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Vivid memories

Suddenly, the experience of adopting Katie sped across my mind. Though it happened many years before, it seemed like yesterday.

I adopted my daughter through a Christian adoption agency. Before she relinquished her daughter to me, the birth mother wanted to ask me some questions. In a letter I wrote to her, I said something like “I thank you for letting me adopt your beautiful daughter. I can’t imagine what a struggle this is for you. She will be raised in a Christian home. With our prayers — yours and mine — it is my hope that she will accept Jesus as her Savior and Lord of her life. May God bless you richly.”

New mother

The agency told me that the mother had decided to give Katie to me based on that letter.

With relief and joy abounding in my heart, I brought the baby girl home from the agency. When she was four or five years old, I told her she was adopted. I stressed that she was chosen, that her birth mother couldn’t care for her but had done the next best thing by giving her up for adoption. Katie grew into a beautiful young woman and did accept Jesus as her Savior and Lord.

Bittersweet birthday

On her eighteenth birthday, sitting in her favorite restaurant, I presented Katie with a U. S. savings bond from her birth mother, which I had been saving for a special occasion. “Darling,” I told her, “I have always tried to hold you with open hands and allow you to grow up in your own way. Today I give you a gift from your birth mother. If you ever choose to seek her out, I want you to know it is OK with me. I would relish the fact to say thank you to her for you and for allowing me to be your mom.”

But I guess deep down I’d hoped it wouldn’t happen. Now I found myself in an emotional battle. Katie was mine, I told myself. After all, I raised her. I consoled my selfish reasoning with The birth mother gave up her rights.

Honest prayer

Again, I dumped my feelings on God in prayer.

“Dear Jesus, I do love You. Thank You for the verses that have come alive to me. Thank You for being my Teacher. Help me be a better student. I surrender this pain of anger, jealousy, selfishness, and fear to You. I know You are directing my steps and know the outcome. Please help me love this birth mom and to be truly thankful for her. I pray that You will bless her. God, create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Constant companion

God answered my prayer. Today, many weeks after that birthday conversation, I am putting together Katie’s baby pictures so that she can share them with her birth mother.

I am learning that whatever road God puts me on, He is with me. As I surrender to Him, I can trust Him for the outcome and leave everything in His capable hands. While the relationship with my adopted daughter is changing, He remains my constant companion — and that’s more than enough.

* Name has been changed.

Scripture quotations were taken from the New International Version.