Thursday, June 25, 2009

Aren't you scared....

of adopting a child with HIV?

I get asked this question a lot and to be honest my answer is no and yes.

No, I am not scared of my child's HIV being transmitted to anyone in my family or anyone else for that matter. Once I knew the facts of HIV, the thought of transmition rarely crossed my mind when I think about our little girl.

No, I am not scared that I will not be able to watch her grow up. I am confident that our little girl will grow up and live a very long, fulfilling life. I am confident that she will go to her proms, graduate high school, go on to college (if that's what she chooses), get married, have children, have grandchildren, etc. The medications available today have done so much for the life span of people with HIV and I can only assume that the medications will get better as our little girl gets older.

So, why the yes? What am I scared of? Well, there is one thing that scares me just a little bit. I do think about the medication that our little girl will have to take and worry about what the long term side effects will be. No one has the answer to this because the medications have not been used long enough to know the long term side effect. But, I am sure that the benefits of the medication far out weigh any side effects, either in the present or in the future, of that medication.

The thing I am the most scared of though and think about the most often is that my little girl will be treated differently, or worse cruely, because of her HIV. We have not decided how open we are going to be about her status, but we have decided that it is not something that we are going to try to hide. We feel hiding her status only adds to the stigma associated with HIV. If she had inherited a genetic disorder from her birth mother no one would even think twice about it. And no matter how a person contracted HIV they still deserve to be treated with respect. I am so scared that people will be mean to her. As a parent you never want your child to be hurt, whether it be physically or emotionally. I can only hope and pray that our little girl will help to open people's hearts to people with HIV and that she will never have to feel ashamed of something that does not define who she is, but is just another part of her.


  1. I feel like I can honestly say that if my children were playing with your daughter and you told me about her HIV status, I would want to find out all the facts from you (as you have already shared with me), but mostly I would be sad that she has to suffer because of another's mistake. I certainly wouldn't grab my kids and run! I think even as she grows, if she tells people that she has been HIV+ since birth, that people wouldn't judge her or shun her for it- at least I hope not! I think when people shun adults with HIV it's more about shunning the lifestyle that led to that, still- we should worry more about loving them where they are at than judging them:(

  2. Your fears are totally normal! You're family will be fine : )
    I think education is key.

  3. Yes, you totally expressed my thoughts in your last paragraph. The fear as we wonder about the nasty stigma. I guess all we can really do is trust that God will equip us to handle whatever comes.

    Nice to meet you.

  4. Thank you for posting this. It has put into words exactly what I have been feeling lately. I'm sure your daughter will be full of grace and confidence from being raised with you as a mother who has shown compassion and love to her and others. Blessings on your family.


  5. Yeah you had done a right thing by not scaring on on your Child's decision.

    Apostille info

  6. I always admire- families that choose to adopt children with HIV or AIDS.I worked with orphans in South Africa and Tanzania who were HIV+. HIV is a deceiving disease- people are left with the feeling that there is no hope for these children when there is so much HOPE and PROMISE.

    HIV is an incurable disease and is many ways no different than having diabetes- in the sense it is a lifelong disease that can simply be monitored by faithfully taking medication and seeing a doctor regularly. In fact I read recently that many doctors view HIV as more treatable than diabetes.

    Children on HIV medication are no different than 'normal' children- in fact many of the sickest children I came across appeared no different than healthy children in the States, they had the same energy level, infectious laughter and joy as the healthiest of healthy kids in the States.

    Many people are ignorant of how HIV is transmitted... in fact many people suggested I have an HIV test- after working with them. I tried to explain the ways HIV is transmitted... that even when you encounter blood that you really need a gaping wound for transmission to take place(and this only makes up for less than 7% of HIV transmission incidents).

    HIV isn't contagious in the sense that you get the disease from holding someone's hand, comforting a crying child, or helping change a child who soiled their clothes. You can't get it from loving someone-unconditionally. You can't get it from sharing silverware, bedding, etc.

    Like you the biggest fear I would have is the stigma a child receives- why we judge others is beyond me. Even adults with HIV- how can you be sure that they didn't get the disease through the fact the woman may have been violated(a common occurrence in S.A.)? How can you not be sure a mother who infected her child with the disease wasn't faithful to her husband...Many woman in Africa are faithful to their husbands but their husbands are frequently unfaithful to their wive(something common in both S.A. and Tanzania!)? Really no child or adult should have to deal with the stigma of this disease.

    We should accept these individuals as He accepts them. Love them as as He loves them-unconditionally. People shouldn't be afraid of these children or adults- they should be infected with love and compassion for them.