WELCOME TO HOLLAND
by Emily Perl Kingsley
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 Michealangelo 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 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 awhile and you 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 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 significant loss.
But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.
I love this letter, written by a Momma who unexpectedly found herself in "Holland." People wonder why Marty and I are choosing to adopt children with down syndrome. The answer is simple, we know that different doesn't have to be scary. You see, Marty and I have been to "Italy." We're there, now, with Eli and Julianna. We'll have all of those experiences with them. But, we wonder what we might be missing in "Holland," so we're planning a trip there, too. We've learned that the road less travelled is the place where we meet Jesus face to face. Might our trip to "Holland" be eventful and full of new life experiences? You bet! We believe there will be JOY in the journey. Will it be hard? Yes, but God didn't call us to easy...
So, we're excited to plan this trip. A new adventure for our whole family. We will learn to love deeper. We will learn to slow down and enjoy each moment and every accomplishment. We will work hard and we will laugh hard. We will do it all by walking in the full measure of grace, given to us each day by our Creator God. You're invited to watch as we journey into "Holland." Who knows, you may even find yourself planning your own trip to "Holland." I do believe it's contagious...
Hidden in Christ,