Adopting a child with HIV: Why we are so thankful we said yes!
When we began the adoption process, we knew we wanted a little boy around early elementary school age. My husband and I discussed children with special needs and decided early on that there really wasn't much that we'd be opposed to accepting. We knew there were millions of children who needed families and many were being rejected simply because of their special needs, so that knowledge compelled us to be open to whatever God had in mind for our family.
As we moved farther along in the process and met with our social worker, she informed us that we really needed to narrow down our age-range and special needs preferences so that finding a match would be more streamlined since the waiting children database was so large. This was very emotionally difficult especially for me, since I felt we were narrowing down (or possibly eliminating) who God had already chosen for us. I had a hard time saying “No” to any of the many needs that were listed. But then our social worker looked at me and asked us both the question that stopped us in our tracks and brought our decision about with great peace and clarity:
Let me ask you this…would it help to know what most families are not willing to take?
Immediately, I knew exactly what she was referring to: HIV+ children. With tears in my eyes, God spoke to my heart (as well as my husband's) and made it crystal clear that bringing a child into our family who was HIV+ was His plan for us. Yes, Lord. Thank you for giving us a heart like Yours, to love the child who has been overlooked and rejected simply because of his disease. With great peace, I looked at my husband and we said, “Well, that's what we'll do then.”
We then spoke with several families across the country who brought home children with HIV and were so encouraged after speaking with them. We also read different resources online about modern medications that now successfully treat HIV, how the disease is and is not transmitted, and people who are living long, rewarding lives with the disease today. A great website, www.projecthopeful.org, was a very helpful resource for us as well. That was where we learned that HIV is the “cheater” of the special needs because it really poses no hindrance on the child's daily life or potential lifespan. It doesn't carry the stigma that it once did over 30 years ago.
After meeting our son and bringing him home, we immediately understood that having a child with HIV is such a non-issue. He just takes his medication twice a day at breakfast and dinner times and visits his PID specialist 3-4 times a year. That's REALLY it. He is considered “undetectable,” so he is of no danger to himself or anyone else. His life looks just like the lives of our other children. We are also not required by law to disclose our son's medical status to his school, our church, or to anyone. We have shared it with immediate family and a few close friends who are in his life, but have chosen to leave it up to our son who else he shares it with as he gets older, since it is really his story to tell and not ours.
If we were to do it all over again and be given the choice to bring another child with HIV into our family, would we?
God taught us a valuable lesson throughout this journey: don't let fear hinder what He has in store for you or your family. Great blessings await when we make the choice to step out into the unknown with faith and assurance, trusting that God knows what He's doing and simply calls us to obey Him.
We are to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Heb. 10:23) He is certainly faithful, indeed!
For the purposes of their son's privacy the author of this post will remain anonymous. If you are interested in or have questions about adopting a child with HIV please check out our resource page. There are many children in the India waiting child program who need families to say yes!