I have to say, when we first began praying about adoption 7 years ago, it looked a lot different than it did now. We wanted easy. We wanted simple. And, oh, how God has molded us in such short time – how He continues to break our hearts for what breaks His.
Had you told me a year ago that I might consider adopting a child that was HIV +, I’m not sure I would have believed you. Me? What do I know about HIV+? Me? -The girl who worried while pregnant that her children would be born with some sort of sickness? Me? Why would God call ME? I have nothing to offer these children… and besides, how could I ever set myself up for heartbreak such as this? Me? Nah…
And, here we are. Really praying and considering.
Because we read these stories like that of Beatrice and our hearts break. I can’t sleep without dreaming about these precious children, I can’t stay awake without thinking of them, too. And, honestly… as we pray and ask God the questions that fill us, He keeps calling us back to: Why are you adopting?
We are adopting because we have been called. We are adopting because we were adopted by God – he saved us from the wreckage of hell and took us up to be our Father. We are adopting because we want to extend the love of Jesus Christ and our God to the fatherless, we want to put action to the very things we believe to be true. We want to love like Jesus. We want to adopt because our hearts break at the injustice we see and we are no longer satisfied at JUST STANDING BY TO WATCH.
We are not adopting to be martyrs. We are not adopting to be cool. We are not adopting simply because we want to grow our family (although that will happen).
And, each time we answer this question of why we are adopting, we are reminded that God loves ALL of these children. We are reminded that Jesus wouldn’t have just left some orphans while taking others. We are reminded that our purpose does not exclude these children – regardless of what society has decided.
While our hearts are open, we are also open to ANY child that we have the resources to parent. We have not been matched with a child, yet – But, it is our hope that we can educate with this post with some answers to the very questions we had.
Isn’t adopting a child with HIV just asking for heartache and heartbreak? Aren’t you just setting yourself up for loss?
HIV is not the same as AIDS. And, actually…people don’t die from AIDS, rather from something else because their immune system was compromised. However, in the past few years, HUGE leaps and bounds have been made. There are now medications called ARVs (and many types) that are given to reduce the viral load of HIV SO MUCH that it is UNDETECTABLE in a normal blood test. –Which means that if a child can get the proper medication, they can live as long as the average adult!
Aren’t you putting your other children in danger?
Well… In our home we have a strict NO SEX (except for Steven and I…ahem) and NO NEEDLE SHARING rule – so, no. HIV actually can’t be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, runny noses, sharing toothbrushes, hugs, kisses, etc. There are NO cases where HIV was transmitted in normal home or school-living or sports. My kids can actually take baths together, swim together, hug, kiss, and play together. The ONLY ways to transmit HIV are: Blood-to-blood (like needles), birth, sex, breastfeeding.
What if our kids were playing together and yours got a bloody nose?
(Again, we’ve not been placed with a child yet… but…) Well, does your child have a gaping head-wound at this time, too? In this scenario is my child standing over your child’s said gaping head-wound and letting the blood pour directly in? Because, here’s the thing… ARVs reduce the viral load SO much that it’s UNDETECTABLE in normal blood tests. Second, the HIV virus is VERY fragile…as soon as it starts being exposed by air, it begins dying. So, for a finger cut, it’s within a few seconds. For huge pools of blood, it’s a matter of a few minutes. Third, while you want to practice universal procedures when it comes to blood (using a barrier from your skin to the other person’s – regardless of who they are), your skin was also made and so wonderfully designed that it also acts like a barrier to viruses/contaminants/etc. It was made to keep them out. And, because the viral load while on ARVs are so low, we’d really be talking about two very serious injuries and you’d be more worried about those injuries in that moment because they’d be THAT SERIOUS.
Okay, I know I know…but, WHAT IF… (Because I actually asked this)…
WHAT IF my 3 biological children and let’s say we had an adopted HIV+ child all playing in the backyard on the slide at once. And, somehow, they all fall on top of each other in a big bloody heap with simultaneous gaping head wounds. (Not realistic, but hey, we’re playing WHAT IF, right?) So, what is the likelihood then? Again, child would be on ARVs. Also, they’d have to be the child on TOP so as gravity would be able to make their blood go into the other’s wound AND nobody could do the instinctive “grab your face and roll” thing. So, if it happened JUST like that? They might have a teeny tiny chance. Like, in the one-digit percentages. Honestly, it’s more likely to die in a car wreck or have a car smash through your home or any other number of what-ifs.
Won’t daily life be really hard?
Most parents say that on a day-to-day basis, sometimes they forget their child is even HIV+. They take their medications twice a day and then go to their pediatrician either 2 or 4x a year for routine blood tests. That’s it. Doctors have even been quoted saying that HIV is much easier to deal with than pediatric diabetes – and, so much headway has been found with HIV that in the west, they are considering it a CHRONIC ILLNESS rather than the terminal disease it used to be considered (thanks to new medications) –however, children left in resource-poor areas do not have such good prognosis.
These were some of the top questions we originally had, so we figured others might have them too! In the 1980s, HIV meant much different things, and unfortunately education hasn’t been a priority as medical resources made leaps and bounds. Again, we haven’t been matched with a child yet but we feel very strongly about spreading the truth. If you want to know more, check out projecthopful.org – it’s a WONDERFUL resource!!