HIV Is Not a Death Sentence
June 6, 2011

The following testimony was sent to us by a mother who adopted her son two years ago. His name has been changed to protect his identity. Although privacy is desired, this mother is willing to be contacted if you have more questions regarding HIV adoption. Please email blog@awaa.org for more information.

Since bringing our son “Adam” home from Ethiopia in 2009, we have often been asked by fellow AWAA families about HIV positive adoption and I always have two answers for them. HIV is not the difficult “issue” here, and secondly, “How could it not be God’s will to adopt an HIV positive/special needs child?”  I have never read a verse in the Bible where it says, “Run from the sick, don’t take care of those with special needs, and don’t do anything that is uncomfortable.”

We are the body of Christ. If it isn’t us who will bring these children into our families, then who will?

HIV is not a death sentence. HIV is a chronic, manageable condition that if treated properly is considered easier to manage than diabetes. Every three months we bring our son to see his specialist at the children’s hospital, he gets blood work, then home we go. His medications are adjusted based on his weight gain every three months and we make sure to strictly administer them twice a day. If he cuts himself we simply put on gloves and give a quick band aide. When others become curious or probe for answers that are not needed to be given, we redirect the conversation. Only our closest friends and family are aware of his status, which gives us and our son a support system in which to have total honesty. Maybe one day our son won’t mind sharing his positive status with the neighbor or random person, but for now we are going to be mindful about whom we tell. Once it is let out, he can never get that privacy back. Disclosure of his HIV positive status should be done with his best interest in mind. At the same time, we also want to emphasize that we don’t need to hide or be ashamed of this, so it is a tricky balance.

Believe it or not, that is all I have to say about HIV and that is all I tell families who call me with questions about HIV positive adoption. What I tell them next is something I hope they really take into prayer and think seriously about- the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual needs of their adopted child. We have focused 10% on Adam’s HIV, and 90% on these other areas. Our son came home to us at only 2 ½ years old, and the trauma he experienced in those years was horrible. The nannies at the transition home were wonderful but everything he experienced in his forming years has affected him.  I have stayed home with Adam since he came home. We have worked through and continue to work through anxiety, fear of African Americans, sleeping difficulties, ADHD behavior, and Sensory Processing Disorder. We have been to occupational therapy, read books, listened to lectures, and really have been doing “therapeutic parenting” since he came home. You can’t expect to bring your child home and just say, “Ok go play, or here’s your class go to school now, or run 100 errands in one day.”  Love, safety, consistency, structure and JESUS is what our children need.

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