For those of you who don’t know, my sister is working at an orphanage in Thailand this summer. The orphanage takes in children who have tested HIV+. When I first heard she was going, my heart contracted with fear for her. Aren’t those kids ticking time bombs? Kids bleed all the time. Leah’s going to get HIV! Leah told me it was what God wanted for her and I knew at that moment, that I was just going to have to entrust my little sister to God. Leah, in all of her wisdom, said, “At first, I thought that too. What if we get HIV too? That would be so unfair. We’re trying to help these kids, we don’t deserve to get AIDS! But then I remembered that these kids didn’t deserve HIV either. It was an unfortunate circumstance that they were born into. It’s worth the risk to help them.”
Wow. That’s crazy love. That’s the kind of love that humans aren’t capable of without being connected to the Heart of God who loves so strongly and powerfully and selflessly.
Alex and I have been praying about the possibility of adoption of one of Leah’s Agape Home kids. Before everyone starts yelling at me about how dangerous and stupid and hard and a death sentence that is, we don’t think that God wants us to adopt at this time. BUT I can tell you that if we did adopt, adopting a kid who is HIV+ would be at the TOP of our list. In my research about HIV and adoption, I learned SO much. I want to share this information with you because it might be the right time for YOU to adopt a kid and you should know that HIV is no longer a death sentence.
Things I’ve learned about adopting a child with HIV:
1. Children with HIV have a negligible chance of being adopted in their home countries. Just like here, the stigma of HIV in other countries is strong. Because they’re considered special needs, the adoptions are usually a little easier and you get a choice of who you adopt. For example, Americans can’t apply to adopt a healthy, Thai child, but they can apply to adopt special needs kids.
2. Modern HIV drugs make the disease so managable that it’s akin to having diabetes. People are living full, happy lives with HIV and dying at an old age of natural causes. The medicines now can get the HIV in the bloodstream down to negligible amounts, making the possibility of transmission to someone else, all the more harder. People with HIV can get married and even have kids. That’s right. With proper care, an HIV+ mother can have an HIV- baby 99 percent of the time.
3. The top three modes of transmission are: Sex, needles, and breastfeeding. All of the normal family stuff- sharing drinks, kissing, swimming together, etc- is safe to do with children who are HIV+. I read somewhere that the Health Department has been tracking HIV transmission in the home (between siblings or child and parents). Out of the hundreds of thousands of families living with someone with HIV, transmission has only happened 8 times- and most of those times were extenuating circumstances like really unsanitary conditions. I read that the only difference between a regular kid and an HIV+ one is a pair of rubber gloves.
4. In most states, insurance HAS to cover your adopted child without penalizing you with pre-existing conditions. Yes, the medications are expensive, but in reality, you would end up paying your deductible for the year.
5. The worst part about raising a kid with HIV is ignorance about the disease.
If you want to learn more, read testimonials and FAQs, the Positively Adopted site was a great one. http://positivelyadopted.com/home2.aspx HIV adoptions are becoming more and more common and I want to do everything I can to make sure that continues. These kids need homes just as much as any other kids do.
If you would like to keep up with Leah and her friends who are in Thailand, their blog is http://servingagape.blogspot.com/.
Send me a message if you want to keep discussing this topic.