Guest Blogger! HIV+ Adoption – How hard is it, really?
Everyone meet Amanda! Amanda is a fellow Ethiopian adoptive mom of 2 little boys. Here is a picture of her and her sweet family!
I have asked her to do away with the myths of adopting a child(ren) with HIV! Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and I will pass them onto her! As always, be respectful. No tacky comments will be accepted!
So you’ve looked at a waiting list and fallen in love with beautiful faces of children.
Most children on the list have special needs.
You spot 3 very large letters – H.I.V. And you opt to skip over that child.
Too scary? You have other kids at home – you don’t want to put them at risk of “catching” it? Or maybe it’s the medical appointments that keep you from it. The fear of medical costs. The costs of medicines. They must go to the doctor a lot!
These were all my own thoughts when we started our adoption. When our social worker talked to us about if we were open to special needs, we said yes, as long as they were correctable – things like cleft lip or palate.
HIV? No way…
Funny, how a lack of education kept us from even considering HIV for a year and a half. We were waiting month after month for a healthy (aka, HIV-) child…
Then we decided to stop following OUR wishes and instead open up our life to GOD’s wishes…
That’s when He began to move us to research HIV.
And boy, all the things we “knew” about HIV were wrong….
Did you know that there are only THREE ways of HIV transmission?
Sex, sharing needles, and mother-to-child or breastfeeding…
No, you cannot get HIV from sharing toothbrushes.
No you cannot get HIV from playing sports with them (even if they bust their head open and by some chance you do not take universal precautions and were to accidentally touch their blood)!
No you cannot get HIV from drinking or eating after them.
Not from changing their diaper, either.
There have been absolutely NO transmission of HIV in a normal family setting.
Okay, so we could deal with that…
But what about the medications and all the doctor appointments? I mean, they must have to see the doctor all the time, especially because the HIV would make them so very sick, right?
They would go to the doctor every 3 months (seriously – an hour or two every three months is nothing!).
They would take simple medications (usually 3 different ones) two times a day.
Once they were on medications their viral load would eventually get down to an undetectable range, meaning the HIV viral load would be so low that it would not be able to be detected in their blood stream.
This didn’t mean that the HIV was cured, because if they stopped taking medications, the HIV would begin to build back up into their blood stream, but this meant that with an undetectable viral load, the risk of transmission was nearly impossible.
We realized HIV+ adoption wasn’t as scary as we once thought…
We began pursuing waiting child lists and looking specifically for HIV+ children.
That’s when we found Mikiyas.
We fell in love nearly instantly and knew that with all that wait, God was preparing our hearts for him.
We knew without a doubt when we looked at his big, very sad, brown eyes, that he was OUR son.
As we worked on paperwork, we were also offered another HIV+ little boy referral.
We accepted him as well.
Nearly two years home and both boys are doing great! Their viral loads are undetectable (and have been for well over a year)!
As for them being sick all the time (one of my worries)? I can say that in our experience, our HIV positive kids have been sick way less than my negative kiddos! 9 times out of 10, if there’s a sick child in our house, it’s our biological kids!
What about the costs?
Most insurance plans cover nearly ALL of the costs.
Along with that, there are discount medication cards or copay cards where many people end up paying very little for their HIV medications. Most families I know pay less than $50/month on meds for their children, many times they pay NOTHING.
The hardest things with our adoption has NOT been the HIV.
In fact, that’s truly been the easiest part of the adoption!
The things like attachment, dealing with trauma backgrounds, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and just normal adoption parenting issues have been the hardest…
Another hard issue may be whether to disclose or not about your child being HIV+.
That is truly a personal family choice. For us, we have chosen to fully disclose and use our boys’ status as a way to educate our community.
Have we dealt with uneducated stigma?
But through their adoption and our openness, we have lead many others to TRUTH about HIV, which is SO very important!
We strive to spread TRUTH and stop the myths of HIV. If you’re considering HIV adoption but are worried, please don’t be.
Research, pray, and research some more.
A great site I truly recommend is www.projecthopeful.org You’ll find lots of great information!
And do not hesitate to contact me. I’m an open book and would be willing to answer any questions you may have. firstname.lastname@example.org