Welcome to Holland

When I first got the news that our baby might have Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), I shared this with just a couple of friends.

One of them sent me two beautiful pieces, both of which I’ll share with you (one today, one in a day or two).  The  first was this one, which I had actually read years ago.  I think this applies to so many areas in life; we think we know what we want and that’s what is best for us.  And then we have to resolve within ourselves the difference between what we wanted and what we got.


By 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.


5 thoughts on “Welcome to Holland

  1. Avivah and Osher, Mazel Tov! Lots of nachas. When I heard that I was the aunt of a baby with an extra 21st chromosome, I told my family members that meant that he was going to get extra attention, extra affection, and also give extra nachas. This has been proven to be true time and time again. He is just so much MORE than we could ever imagine. I”H you will see. Welcome to Holland and enjoy Holland. I hear that it has a lot to offer.

  2. Avivah,

    Hashem has obviously chosen your amazing family to care for this precious neshama. May your beautiful son fill your home with extra light and love.

  3. Hi Avivah,

    I have been following your blog since our chevruata stopped. I am so happy to hear that BH everything has gone well. I dont know if you remember but I told you I have a sister with Down’s that my parents adopted when she was 3 weeks old. If there is any anything I can do to help please dont hesitate to contact me. Mazal tov again,


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