I had read a few blogs of people who had adopted HIV children from Africa and thought, “Wow. I could never do that. That sounds too hard.”
Our hearts were lead to adopt for the third time from China. HIV was not even remotely on our radar because we had never heard of an HIV child coming out of China. We searched the websites and photo listings and didn’t have peace or agreement about which child was ours.
Until her photo popped up. Her face was a new face I hadn’t seen before. She was almost four years old. I read her short bio and the infamous “HIV” was there but it did not even phase me. She was ours, I had no doubt. I was baffled by my own quick acceptance of her HIV condition as I knew where my mind and heart had always previously been, complete unacceptance. We spent a few days, for the first time in our lives, researching HIV. We found that with more and more education about it, our fears of the disease were fading more and more away. We prayed. We discussed her labs with an Infectious Disease doctor who specializes in pediatric HIV. And then, with peace that surpassed our understanding, my husband and I moved forward with her adoption.
We brought her home as the 6th child in our family. I would say that 90% of the time her HIV has not been a thought or near our minds. We have trained all of our six kids to be careful with everyone’s blood, people in our family and not in our family. HIV has NEVER been transmitted in what they call a “normal home living situation.” My kids share drinks, snuggle, jump on the trampoline, swim, and do EVERYTHING siblings without HIV do together. There is no difference in the way we do life since she has come home. I carry a small Ziploc bag of gloves and bandaids in my purse at all times, just in case. We go to her infectious disease doctor every three months to have her labs checked. This will decrease as she gets older. She doesn’t have to take medications yet because her immunity cells (and the LORD) are keeping her HIV levels low for now. But most kids take medication twice every day. If you saw her, you would never know of the HIV in her blood. She is a healthy, strong, beautiful, smart, and extremely joyful five year old girl.
The 10% of the time that her HIV is on my heart and mind, there is some hard associated with it. We have chosen to disclose her HIV status cautiously and with only certain people. Some of those people, including some extended family, have responded in fear. When some know her status they watch how we care for her much more intently. She is starting to express a disliking to having to so frequently (every three months) get her blood drawn. And then there are always the thoughts of the future and the stigma, that we are now able to shield her from, that she will someday be old enough to feel and understand and have to live everyday with.
And yet, through it all, through the stigma and fear from those we least expected it, through the difficult moments of walking her tender heart through the extra medical appointments, through all the extra stares when we are putting a band-aid on her scraped knee, and through the fears of the future that can creep in, she is worth every single bit of the small amount of hard that we face with her HIV. We have never even once questioned the decision we made to bring her into our family, into our hearts, into our home, and into our forever. I often think it was one of the best decision we ever made.
As we consider adopting again, this time HIV is at the top of our list. We now know that HIV is very present in China and there is a great need for God’s people to follow Him boldly to care for these orphans. Here is a link to a recent blog post that our agency, HOLT International, posted about a home caring for HIV children in China.
My prayer is that everyone who reads our family’s HIV story will check out this article and boldly ask God if one of these precious children is meant for your family. To God be the glory!
~Guest post by Jennifer S