Friday, February 10, 2012

Poetry Friday - A Happy Childhood

I don't normally write about political issues, but today I must, so please bear with me. (If you just want the poetry without the preface, scroll down a bit.)

I was adopted in 1965 shortly after my birth. Just over a year later, "Baby Cross" officially became a member of the Stohr family. I was so fortunate, so lucky, and so loved. I still am. Because of this legacy, I believe that every child should have the opportunity to grow up in a loving home. I also believe that every willing and qualified individual and/or family should have the right to provide such a home. This is why I'm so disappointed that the Virginia state Senate approved a "conscience clause" bill that allows state-funded (albeit private) adoption agencies to deny placement services to children and prospective parents who "don't share their beliefs." The governor will sign this bill if it crosses his desk. When this happens, the state of Virginia will effectively legalize discrimination by allowing organizations to deny the adoption of children by gay parents. You can read more about this issue in the article Adoption agencies 'conscience clause' passes Senate.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be if I hadn't been adopted. Every child deserves to have the kind of childhood I had, and every family deserves an equal opportunity to provide it. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Since I'm wishing and hoping for homes and happiness for children everywhere, I'm sharing a poem that has many lines I love and reminds me in many ways of aspects of my very happy childhood. 
A Happy Childhood
By William Matthews
Babies do not want to hear about babies; they like to be told of giants and castles. 

Dr. Johnson 

No one keeps a secret so well as a child 

Victor Hugo
My mother stands at the screen door, laughing.  
“Out out damn Spot,” she commands our silly dog.  
I wonder what this means. I rise into adult air

like a hollyhock, I’m so proud to be loved  
like this. The air is tight to my nervous body.
I use new clothes and shoes the way the corn-studded  

soil around here uses nitrogen, giddily.

Read the poem in its entirety.
The round up today is being hosted by Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids. Do stop by and take in all the great poetry being shared. Before you go, stop by and check out the skeletonic verses written for this week's poetry stretch. Happy poetry Friday all!


  1. There’s no truth about your childhood,
    though there’s a story, yours to tend,

    like a fire or garden. Make it a good one,
    since you’ll have to live it out, and all
    its revisions, so long as you all shall live,


    I'd just read something about Alzheimer's, and my gran died this past week, and so all of these things about a happy childhood are jumbling together with how much she relived hers in these last years.

    Wow. This poem.

    And, wow, it never came up, that you're adopted. But, as the sister of two who every year celebrate their Adoption Day like it's a national holiday - and for us, it is, we have t-shirts - I also embrace the right of everyone to find that joy, and hope that y'all can make Virginia change its mind.

    Here's to the families we choose. ♥

    1. Oh Tanita, I choose you and the other poetry princesses as my family. I'm sorry to hear about your gran. It's so hard to see those we love leave us. I'll keep her and your family in my prayers.

  2. Thanks, Tricia. You are my family, too. ♥

  3. I can't believe the conscience clause bill passed the Senate -- and it sounds like the House of Delegates will do the same? It's beyond disappointing and sad; it's scary how these legislators think -- but it's something that's happening all over the country.

    Thank you for talking about your own childhood and sharing this brilliant poem. It slays me, it's just epic.

  4. I have two adopted children; my brother three. We are blessed & have made the childhoods as the poem states. I love "It turns out you are the story of your childhood/and you’re under constant revision,/like a lonely folktale whose invisible folks/are all the selves you’ve been" & will share with my children. I am alarmed by those who have such fear that they must create more rules. I wish us all the best in this election year-time to stand up!!

  5. This was beautiful Tricia - both the sentiment and the part of the poem you shared. Thank you so much!

  6. Like Tanita (great minds think alike?!?!) this part sang out to me:

    "There’s no truth about your childhood,
    though there’s a story, yours to tend,

    like a fire or garden. Make it a good one,
    since you’ll have to live it out, and all
    its revisions, so long as you all shall live"

    I wish I could get my mom to believe this and to change the story she tells about her childhood.

    I'm behind you 100% in your stand against the "conscience clause" bill.

    On a happier note, maybe you can help Ed DeCaria round up 64 poets for his Children's Poetry March Madness:

  7. Love the dark that has a body like a cloud's...

    Every child needs love. I don't think EVERY couple deserves a child to love, because many couples are way to screwed up to give a child love. But a couple's capacity for that has nothing to do with their sexual orientation. Good people make good parents (or at least do their very best). Period.