Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I wanna go to Holland!

Many in the Down syndrome community have come across Emily Kingsley's "Welcome to Holland":

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 guide books 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! 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 guide books. 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.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and 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 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 will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very 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.
Well, the funny thing is, if you read enough stories about Holland.... it sounds pretty cool! 

And you know what, I've been to Italy.... several times already!  And it's gorgeous -- I absolutely love it! But I know the canals of Venice, the slopes of the alps, the beaches of Sicily, the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum, and the best place for pizza in Palermo. But, but, why can't I visit Holland, too?

Now, some things about Holland would be familiar.  Canals, for example. Similar, but different. And there will be coffee shops and ice cream, though it wouldn't be the same as that gelato on the square in Firenze.  But there are no tulips or traditional windmills in Italy.  No Delft Blue China craftsmen.  Can the Rembrandts and Van Goghs compare to Michelangelo?  Do they have to?  Both are beautiful.

What is it like to go to Holland when that was what you intended to do?  When there is nothing to mourn in the first place?

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