I want to see HIV+ orphans adopted into forever families. I can’t say this was always a goal of mine, but God has a way of getting us to where He wants us to be.
For my wife and I that journey started in January 2011, while we were living in Asia, and friends of ours told us there was a little girl who was in an isolation room of a hospital. She was there because she was HIV+ and misinformation and fear of HIV often led to people being ostracized. This girl had been in the isolation area for 40 days. It was the second time in her young life that she had been abandoned. A year and a half earlier she was left at a train station.
My wife and I prayed a dangerous prayer: “God if you don’t want us to take this girl in, shut the door.” We prayed this because God has already told us to care for orphans in the Word. Then we gave Him a full evening before making our decision to begin fostering this little girl. A few days later Lily was in our home and little did we know that we were starting a journey that would take us four years of fighting and many moments of pain to see completed.
As I reflect on this journey I’m struck by a few things that I want to share with you:
• HIV isn’t scary. When we were first contemplating taking in Lily we asked our friends, who are doctors and who’ve adopted an HIV+ orphan as well, all about HIV. What we found was that it isn’t as scary as we imagined. Most of us haven’t learned much about HIV, at least not since High School, and that has been a while for some of us;). As parents to an HIV+ child our lives are not spent in a hospital watching our daughter waste away. Instead our days are spent watching our daughter: learn, play, grow, and enjoy life. The only thing we do on a daily basis is give her medicine twice (morning and night), that’s it.
And we often tell people that she is our healthiest child, which she is. HIV is not transferred through casual contact (such as holding hands, body contact in crowded public places, working together, playing together, hugging, kissing on the cheeks or on the lips, through saliva, sneezing, coughing, fecal matter, urine, through mosquitoes and insect bites, food cooked by an HIV+ person, drinking from the same glass or cup, eating from the same plate, sharing the same telephones, bathrooms, toilets, beds, or using the same swimming pool). Our kids run around, play, and share food just like any other kids and I’m not worried. I just had no idea how normal life would be even with a child that is HIV+.
• It takes courage to do anything worthwhile. There are no perfect circumstances to adopt and there will always be fears, concerns over money, timing, ect. My wife and I are not super heroes; we’re actually quite the opposite. The only thing we did was say “yes” when “no” made more sense and would have been easier. I will forever be grateful that we said “yes”. If you are considering adoption or if you’re considering adopting a child whose HIV+ you will have obstacles. As we find the strength to be courageous, others will also. Don’t let fear pen the story of your life, instead let God write an amazing story of redemption through you.
• She just needed a chance. Over these recent years I’ve come to know my daughter Lily and she is incredible. And let me be clear, she’s not incredible because of my wife or I, but because God made her incredible. All Lily needed was a family to give her a chance (and some medicine), God had already done the rest. Lily will do amazing things with her life; one of the greatest gifts of my life has been that God let me and my wife be part of her story. God has stories that He wants you to be a part of as well!
This girl, our story, and the love of God are the reasons that I will never stop wanting to see HIV+ orphans adopted into forever families. If you want to get involved, please take a look at ELIM :: a Home for HIV kids in China Facebook page, “like” them, and follow their work as they serve HIV+ orphans in China.
Take a moment to watch our adoption story and learn the truth about HIV and the value, worth and amazing potential these children have.
Matt, Heather, and their kids are missionaries. Their work has taken them to North Africa, South America, and Asia where they lived for the past six years. They’re passionate about: missions, adoption, and living a life of reckless faith. You can find Heather on Facebook here.
Interested in adopting a child who is HIV+? Go here to read about two boys who wait to be chosen.