Monday, November 11, 2013

Holland, not Italy

A couple of friends have shared this article with me. I absolutely love it. Sometimes as adoptive parents we are afraid to say that this is really hard. Raising a child with any kind of a medical condition is hard. It is a lot of appointments, sometimes a lot of surgeries, a lot of patience and a lot of work. Yet we are afraid to say those words out loud. I don't know if we are afraid of the day that someone says "tough, you decided to adopt. You knew what you were getting into. Deal with it." I don't know if we feel that we don't have the right to complain. All I know is that it is hard to utter those words so instead we have a stiff upper lip and just muddle through it. I can't imagine what all the adoptive parents did who came before me and didn't have the internet and long distance friends to help hold them up. I commend them for making it through the tough times. 


Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

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.


  1. I have heard this ananalogy before! I love it and never get tired of it!

  2. Nice to read!! We've als adopted a SN-child from China and live in Holland ;-)