“Where Mental Health brings you as a Parent”.


Family TIES of Massachusetts is a project of the Federation for Children with Special Needs,with funding from and in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health,Bureau of Family Health and Nutrition, Division for Perinatal, Early Childhood, and Special HealthNeeds. 10-09

Welcome to Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to helppeople 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 abunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans; the Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, thegondolas 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 ofpestilence, 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 willmeet 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’vebeen there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around . . . and you begin to notice thatHolland 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 awonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I wassupposed to go. That what I had planned.”And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away . . . . because the loss of that dream is avery, 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.~

Emily Perl Kingsley

Welcome to Holland (Part 2)by Anonymous

I have been in Holland for over a decade now. It has become home. I have had time tocatch my breath, to settle and adjust, to accept something different than I’d planned.I reflect back on those years of past when I had first landed in Holland.I remember clearly my shock, my fear, my anger—the pain and uncertainty. In thosefirst few years, I tried to get back to Italy as planned, but Holland was where I was tostay. Today, I can say how far I have come on this unexpected journey. I have learnedso much more. But, this too has been a journey of time.I worked hard. I bought new guidebooks. I learned a new language and I slowly foundmy way around this new land. I have met others whose plans had changed like mine,and who could share my experience. We supported one another and some havebecome very special friends.Some of these fellow travelers had been in Holland longer than I and were seasonedguides, assisting me along the way. Many have encouraged me. Many have taught meto open my eyes to the wonder and gifts to behold in this new land. I have discovereda community of caring. Holland wasn’t so bad.I think that Holland is used to wayward travelers like me and grew to become a land ofhospitality, reaching out to welcome, to assist and to support newcomers like me in thisnew land. Over the years, I’ve wondered what life would have been like if I’d landed inItaly as planned. Would life have been easier? Would it have been as rewarding? WouldI have learned some of the important lessons I hold today?Sure, this journey has been more challenging and at times I would (and still do) stompmy feet and cry out in frustration and protest. And, yes, Holland is slower paced thanItaly and less flashy than Italy, but this too has been an unexpected gift. I have learnedto slow down in ways too and look closer at things, with a new appreciation for theremarkable beauty of Holland with its’ tulips, windmills and Rembrandts.I have come to love Holland and call it Home.I have become a world traveler and discovered that it doesn’t matter where you land.What’s more important is what you make of your journey and how you see and enjoythe very special, the very lovely, things that Holland, or any land, has to offer.Yes, over a decade ago I landed in a place I hadn’t planned. Yet I am thankful, for thisdestination has been richer than I could have imagined!

Federation For Children With Special Needs website:        http://fcsn.org/