Trip To Holland Poem – By Emily Perl Kingsley

The trip to Holland poem for me just summed it all up…….. When you first find out that you are expecting (or have given birth) to a special needs child it is obviously a huge shock.  It is nothing any of us expected.  Even when we ourselves became foster parents to Natan Shai we didn’t know the full capacity of his diagnosis until we already had him home and had fallen in love with him.  You can read the whole story here 🙂

So whilst browsing the internet and looking through sites for special needs kids I came across this amazing poem which I think all parents of these special souls can relate to.  It also helps explain to others what it feels like.  The poem was written by Emily Perl Kingsley who is an American writer and has a son born with Downs Syndrome. It was written many years ago so many of you may have already heard about it. But anyway, I think it’s something we can all benefit from by hearing it again 😉

It is well worth listening to!


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 guidebooks and make 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 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 guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you never would 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 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 go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things…about Holland.




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