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Loss and Gain

A dad's words to his adopted daughter

By F Cade SwansonPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 1 min read
Top Story - October 2022
Loss and Gain
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I enter your fifth grade classroom.

It’s writing festival

and you’ve written an “I am” poem.

“I am from never give up even if you can’t take it.”

Your words on the paper.

“And live, love, stay alive and strong.”

Stay alive and strong.

Other parents who know some of your story

look at your poem,

uncomfortable with your confidence.

How not broken you are.

But when it’s just you and me,

driving in the car

or walking together on our path through the woods,

you give me a glimpse at what goes on in your head.

How alone you have felt.

How scared you have been.

And how that fear pops up every so often.

Not knowing who to trust.

Not learning how to love.

Not feeling safe.

How the years leading up to your arrival to us were


How the joyful reunion with your brother at our house

and the beginning of together forever

meant both loss and gain.

Adoption is always loss and gain.

It’s okay to still love your first dad, I say.

Even if he did the best he could and it wasn’t enough.

We can hold the complexity together.

It’s okay to be proud of who you are, I say.

Even the parts you don’t want to share.

You don’t have to tell me everything.

Or anything.

We can sit in the silence together.

It’s okay to feel insecure, I say.

Even if your body tells you you’re safe

and it’s been that way for a while.

Take as long as you need.

We can walk through that together.

And as we hold, and sit, and walk together,

I want you to know that you’re allowed to feel strong,

and you deserve to feel loved.

You are so loved.

“I am from never give up even if you can’t take it.”

Your words on the paper.

"And live, love, stay alive and strong.”


About the Creator

F Cade Swanson

Queer dad from Virginia now living and writing in the Pacific Northwest. Dad poems, sad poems, stories about life. Read more at fcadeswanson.com

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (49)

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  • Naveed4 days ago

    Bravo! Your hard work is paying off—keep it up, congratulations!

  • Naveed17 days ago

    Congratulations! Keep up the great work!"❤👌👍

  • Zara Blume17 days ago

    This was my favorite of the short listed when I voted. I’m glad to now see who wrote it. ‘Other parents who know some of your story look at your poem, uncomfortable with your confidence.’ Those lines hit me so hard. Adults were uncomfortable with my confidence as a child, and still are now that I’m an adult. But it’s what prevailed through my trauma. I think that’s what separates those of us who go on to thrive from those of us who merely survive, and those who do not make it. The belief that we’re worthy of more is why we never give up, even if we can’t take it. The love you have for your child is beautiful, and the guidance you’re sharing as a parent and a poet is what everyone needs to hear. This is without a doubt one of the best poems I’ve read on Vocal, and I’m excited to read more from you.

  • Shirley Belk17 days ago

    Simply Beautiful and Congrats!!!

  • Congratulations, Cade! I still get chills running up & down my spine reading this.

  • Babs Iverson17 days ago

    Fabulous!!! Congratulations on the win!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Cathy holmes17 days ago

    Congratulations. I remember this beautiful piece.

  • Mackenzie Davis17 days ago

    Congratulations!! 🎊

  • Caroline Jane17 days ago


  • Hannah Moore17 days ago

    Youre allowed to feel strong. I love this, it's so full of strength that doesn't depend on perfection. Congratulations.

  • Judey Kalchik 17 days ago

    Love. Acceptance. Support. Understanding. Congratulations on the life you build. Congratulations on this recognition today.

  • Jacquie Mayhornabout a year ago

    Powerful and moving.

  • Ashleigh Amesabout a year ago

    Wow.. good for you for giving this beautiful person the space, time, and understanding, patience, etc. To be able to work things out with zero pressure. I don't know your situation, but I know enough about the system and the things that these kids and/or vulnerable individuals have to go through. Ive heard stories, and some people think that the hardship is losing their biological families, but these vulnerable individuals' stories don't just stop with losing their parents. The system is so messed up. Sometimes the ones who foster them are worse than the originals. Thank God, or the universe for people like yourself that make a difference in a life. You change the world. Even if it's just one world. I wish you took first, but in my heart you sure did. Thank you for sharing, and good vibes your way. ❤️❤️❤️

  • Parvathi Jabout a year ago

    so beautiful, touched by " you give me a glimpse on what goes on in your head"

  • L. Goodsabout a year ago

    Wow. This is so beautiful. I cried reading the words the dad spoke to the daughter. Incredibly moving.

  • Sieran Laneabout a year ago

    Wow, this was very touching! It made me cry, in a good way. :)

  • Zachary Keiferabout a year ago

    So wonderful!

  • Stephanie Brownabout a year ago

    Written so well, it heals you as you read it♥️

  • Love Love Love❤️

  • Efulabout a year ago

    Good Job, I love your articles

  • Annie Edwards about a year ago

    What a beautiful piece ♥️♥️♥️

  • Fra Tushaabout a year ago

    This was beautiful. I don’t know how it didn’t get 1st place, you deserve it. God bless you.

  • This comment has been deleted

  • Kitts Junior about a year ago

    Good Poem

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