Friday, August 10, 2012

Living in Holland

Recently, I read a memoir written by Kelle Hampton, who is the mother of two gorgeous little girls, one of whom has Down syndrome. I've been a fan of Kelle's blog for about a year now and adore watching her girls grow through the beautiful photographs she posts.

On both her blog and in her book, Kelle is incredibly honest about the emotions she felt around her daughter Nella's birth. She has since come to terms with Nella's disorder, and I very much admire the way she is raising her little girl. However, as a person with a disability I always find it incredibly hard to hear about parents who talk about having to reconfigure their dreams for their child, or accept their challenges, or other euphemisms for this. Often, people reference the infamous Welcome to Holland essay, which is a narrative that compares having a child with a disability to packing for a trip to one country and landing in another.

I've never been a parent expecting an able-bodied child. I've never been an able-bodied person. And every day,  I come to terms with the limitations of my own disability. But I've never had to know my parents were disappointed or upset in anyway when I was born. I'm adopted. They knew what I was getting into. My entire life has exceeded expectations based on what they knew the day they got me. I cannot imagine coming across a book or a blog where my mother admitted to being devastated at my birth for whatever reason.

I don't fault Kelle for her honesty. I think it's brave of her to admit to her experience, and it's important for other people to be open. Part of me, though, just wonders what happens if Nella reads her book ten or fifteen years for now. No matter how little impact her disabilities eventually have on her life, I can't help but wonder how that would affect her--how any child is affected by knowing that their parent was upset at their diagnosis--at a part of them.

I don't know what the answer is here, but it's something I wonder about.


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