A bird sits all alone in the flock. Then in the eyes of a little girl, they feel seen. Together, they explore & appreciate the detail of everything around them. With the bird’s awakening, their white feathers explode with colour when they least expect it. Time passes, the seasons shift & the bird travels far, across snow & through turbulent seas, to a warm place full of feathered friends. The words are lyrical & sparce, but the multi-layered story & rich illustrations speak of many things – understanding oneself & connection with others; the multi-faceted nature of identity & how our sense of belonging is ever changing throughout life.
Issues of identity can be confusing for care experienced & adopted children. Many who come to family therapy are trying hard to understand their life history, exploring who they are & where they fit in. They can carry a sense of being to blame for their losses, of being bad or ‘other’. Like the bird, they can feel ‘far away inside & far away outside’. Part of any adoptive parent or carer’s role is to facilitate their child’s exploration of identity with love, & to bear witness to it. To acknowledge the rupture in belonging for a child who has been separated from their birth family & allow all thoughts & emotions to be voiced. Gently holding the past & making sense of how it shapes the present.
This enigmatic picture book lends itself to many interpretations & therein lies its magic – it can be read & figured out over time, adult & child together. At different ages & stages of development, a child will notice new things & understand them differently, just as the bird sees more, the more they look. It invites curiosity about self & other – where & with whom can we find connection? What is it that stirs us to move forward through the world? What supports us & gives us the strength & courage to persevere?
In Over the Rooftops, Under The Moon, the bird embraces life, with all its uncertainties & ambiguities & learns that the heart can have more than one home. With this acceptance they feel stronger & more vibrant, both within & without.