Karen Katz's Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale
Children's book review by Suzanne Edison
Every child wants to know the story of their birth and this is a good one for very young children, ages 2-6, told in the voice of an adoptive mother to her child.
I read Over the Moon often to my adopted child. In bright colors, with simple words and a constant joyous tempo, many of the early events in this story ring true.
The initial phase of waiting to adopt is not like waiting during a pregnancy in your own body. There are many hoops to jump through, lots of paperwork, not knowing when you will receive a referral for a baby or child, how old that child will be, how healthy, and on and on.
Over the Moon starts as a story about waiting to adopt. It is about the parents' excitement, anticipation and hope that lives before and during adoption. “Soon, soon. Our baby will be here soon, they told each other as they waited.”
This adoption story also involves traveling to Central America, meeting foster family, the first few hours with the new baby and the return trip. Again, from my experience making a similar journey, many of the details and images paint a real portrait.
I particularly like Karen Katz’s painting style that distorts and includes everything at the same time.
is not just the adoptive parents who are waiting though, it is a
community of friends, neighbors and family in the city where they live,
who also are excited about the baby.
Like many people who adopt, Katz starts the story with a “dream.” Both adopting parents have the same dream of seeing their baby in a far away country among flowers, mountains and water.
She dreamed she saw the baby in a basket surrounded by beautiful violet flowers and birds of many colors.
The parents are in bed asleep and the baby floats in a watery bubble above a city, containing these images.
The moment they receive “the call” to come for the baby is full of stars and the parents floating in the sky. I remember that joyous moment in my own life when I was told “my baby” was born and it was time for me to come get her.
Each page gives very descriptive details about what the parents do to prepare physically for a new baby. We see clothes and toys, diapers and bottles. We see the airplane and taxi they take to the airport.
After the parents have been handed their baby we hear the only moment of concern. Like many new parents they don’t know exactly how to take care of a baby. “Still, the new mommy and daddy were nervous.”
Later in the story we see the adoptive family lying together on a blanket in a sea of green next to a starry blue sky, next to a purple wave. We see the night and water as they fly back home, once again. We also see the airplane and a city, people waving, “over the moon and through the night…”
Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale on Amazon.
Reviewer's note: While I think it is important for every adopted child to know how excited and happy their adoptive parents are to be their parents, the reality for adopted children is so much more complicated. This book never touches on the losses of the child (which I believe are important to acknowledge early on—or be ready to—even if one doesn’t dwell on them) or the fears and concerns that every new parent feels about how they will bond with their child and whether that child will bond with them.
In the story The Red Blanket (reviewed on this site) for example, we get a hint of the difficulty of handing a baby over to a complete stranger. I appreciate this bit of reality. I believe for any adopted child, the joys and love of the adoptive family are stronger and more secure when they can also speak to the mostly, non-verbal experiences of separation every adopted baby goes through. In this way, an adoption birth story really can soar, and land, back on earth.
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