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Welcome to Holland            

by Emily Perl Kinsley                

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability -- to try to help 
people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would 
feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy 
a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. 
The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After 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.   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 most important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, 
fun 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 have never 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 catch your breath,  you look around,  and you begin to  notice that 
Holland  has windmills,  Holland has tulips,  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 all had there.  And all the rest of your life you will say, "Yes, that's 
where I was supposed to go. That's where I had planned."

And  the  pain  of  that  will never,  ever go away,  because 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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