Welcome to Holland

“Welcome to Holland” was written in 1987, by Emily Perl Kingsley, about having a child with a disability.
The trip to Italy is a typical birth and child-raising experience, and that the trip to Holland is the experiencing of having and raising a child with special-needs.

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, Gondolas. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After several months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland!” “Holland?” you say. “What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy. I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place. So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around. You begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. And Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” And the pain of that experience will never, ever, ever, go away. The loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

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4 comments on “Welcome to Holland

  • I love this analysis, it is so so true. My daughter has brain damage caused by hypoglycemia, we just wait now to see what that means for her future. She has epilepsy which is the hardest aspect to control in fact we can’t control it yet at 17 months old. Our older daughter Molly is amazing with her sister as Freddies sister is with him. Every day we see new amazing sights in Holland, trouble is trying to forget the amazing sights we saw in Italy. You are doing an amazing job, much love Jude x

  • i love the idea of the Holland/Italy story………..for my family there is a slightly different slant on it though………my parents visited italy three times, then became foster parents……….after 12 years of fostering Italian children they where asked to looked after a dutch one……….they fell in love with holland, loved everything about it and decided to emigrate! With the full support of the rest of our family my parents became the parents of the most amazing child………….and i became the big sister of one…………we never needed to grieve the loss of anything, we choose to go to holland and feel privilaged and blessed to be able to stay there!

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