Welcome to Holland Poem [free printable]


I received this ‘Welcome to Holland’ poem from a friend framed, as pictured below, and it brought me great comfort.  As a young mom struggling to emotional deal with the diagnosis of my son ~ this simple gesture of an acquaintance really spoke deeply to my heard.  At the time it brought me some desperately needed peace.  I hope it does the same for you or a friend who might need some encouraging words.


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Welcome to Holland (2990 downloads)

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 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 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 hings …about Holland.


You can print out this beautiful poem and frame it to give to a mother with a very special role.  A friend framed the For Chosen Mother’s poem and I was so grateful.  Believe me, she will appreciate it more than you know.

If you’re interested, you can read about my trip to Holland with my son Davis.


  1. Comment-Anonymous Katrina

    I too am living in Holland. Yes I would have loved to go to Italy the first time around but I have found Holland to be lovely and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I thought I had a chance to go to Italy with my second son. Now it seems I may have been mistaken. His Italy has little bits of Holland in it but it is still beautiful.

    If there was one thing I could share with other mothers about Holland is that it is perfect if only you could see past your dissappointment for not going to Italy. Your child is still the child that you have come to love. Their personality is still their own. Nothing is changed by a diagnosis other than which path you go forward on. Every day we move forward with a determination to give our children the tools they need for a bright future. That does not change when you have a special needs child.

    Laurie, thanks for sharing. I have heard this poem before and it still touches me the same every time I hear it.


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  3. Comment-Anonymous Karen

    I am living in Holland as a mother of a daughter who has CP, has limited physical mobility, and has cancer. Holland is a beautiful place; I just have to take the time to enjoy what is right in front of me. My daughter has shown me how to enjoy all the little things that life has to offer. My life is different than others, but different is good. Because of having a child with special needs, I decided to go back to college to become a nurse. I want to help other families who are embarking on a journey to Holland. I just found out that I will be helping my cousin and his wife. I feel honored and blessed that they are asking for my help.

    I have made many copies of your Holland poem and given it to families. Tears come to my eyes every time I read that poem. Thank You for showing all of us that Holland is not a bad place to go to. In fact, Holland may just be the most rewarding place to be.

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  5. Comment-Anonymous Julie Joy

    This story has made me cry every time I read it, for 15 yrs now. My first flight was a crash and burn, a still birth at 6 months. My second child was born 3 months early, and is mildly autistic. My 3rd, was born 2 months early, and I still had that sense of feeling cheated. Then my daughter was born. Only 3 weeks early, a perfect 7 pound baby, born with lamellar ichthyosis. An extremely rare skin disease.

    Although I dreamed often of what it may have been like to get to go to Italy, I have found so many beautiful things about being in Holland. I dont think I would trade it now for anything. My oldest son, who was born so tiny and fragile, will turn 18 this week, and graduate HS in just a couple months. And I look around me and wonder, where or where has the time gone?

    He also has a half brother now, from his father, who is also autistic. And his mom says, “I hope he grows up like your son has, to be so smart” And I just want to say to her, slow down, smell the flowers, and enjoy Holland.

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