When we chose to adopt a child with HIV, it was like a “burning bush” moment for us. However, for many families it is not like this. It is a long, contemplative process with hours of research devoted to the decision. For us, it came down to this: Who are we to wait 10-12 months to be matched with a “healthy” child when the reason we are adopting is to give a home to a child who needs it? God did not wait for us to be the most perfect, healthy versions of ourselves when He welcomed us to His family….who are we to do the opposite.
I was sitting in my annual doctor’s appointment this year and my doctor told me how noble it was to adopt a child with a terminal illness. I was dumbfounded. She was a medical doctor and still felt HIV to be an early death sentence. I explained to her that it is not…..that new research is coming out about HIV+ men and women living into their 60s. As you can see, the knowledge of HIV, its transmission, treatment and living with it, has changed very little since the late 80s if even a medical doctor has the wrong perception of the disease. HIV can not be transmitted through playing with each other, sharing straws, kissing, hugging, birthday parties…. a case has never been reported of transmission through casual household contact. You contract HIV through sexual contact, sharing needles, and maternal-fetal transmission (though uncommon in America with medication advances). That’s it. That simple.
Managing a child with HIV usually consist of medication twice daily, followup with infectious disease doctors every three months and being a voice for the child when others dare to persecute him or her. Discussing sexuality and reproduction is something that will be addressed earlier than you would like. More than anything, guess what these kids need? Yep, a family who will love them despite the disease hiding within their little bodies. That family could indeed be you!
I would like, however, to say WHY NOT to adopt an HIV+ child? Please do not choose HIV+ adoption because you will wait less time on a child. While HIV is definitely a manageable disease, it is something both you and your child will deal with for a lifetime. So when you start contemplating this, remember do not do this for speed of the process, but for a genuine calling to these children.
So when thinking about adoption, think about these children, the ones stigmatized by a disease given to them not by their doings but by the sins, mistakes and choices of adults. The children who may age out of the orphanage, have limited medication access, continue to reproduce with possibly positive children of their own, and thus perpetuate the cycle. It will not be an easy journey but if an easy journey is what you are seeking, you may want to reconsider adoption. Adoption is a beautifully blessed but difficult journey and more so on both accounts when dealing with HIV.
~West Sands Ethiopia Adoptive Mom~