If you are/were a regular reader here you know that I am not one to back down from anything, heck give me something that I have an opinion on and I will HAPPILY tell you what my opinion is – I mean one of my most read posts (but least commented on) Not So Perfect After All about an odd adoption disruption that I read about. And I stand by what I said in that post…
Recently I heard a story about another family, this time the parents had made a decision to adopt from a specific country and started looking at waiting children lists. They believed that they had found the perfect addition to their family there on the waiting child list, a sibling set but the information indicated that there was an issue they needed to discuss with the agency. The siblings were adorable and in reality still pretty young, so the family wondered what the issue was as there was no indication of any problems from the pictures.
They contacted the agency via e-mail and filled out some forms. All of the paper work looked perfect until that last paper, that last paper told the whole story of why the children were still waiting; one of the siblings was HIV positive. Everything was clear to the family but they were not immediately turned off, some research was in order. They needed to know what challenges adopting an HIV positive child would bring them.
The family started their research; reading blogs, researching medications, life expectancy, and most importantly how to deal with an HIV positive child in the home. The family would hate to put them or anyone else in intentional danger of contracting this auto immune disorder if it could be prevented.
One mother of two HIV positive children, Carolyn Twietmeyer who is also the founder of Project HOPEFUL says, correctly I might add:
HIV cannot be transmitted in a normal family, school, or church environment, she explains. The virus can only be transmitted in a few ways: intravenous drug use, sexual contact, through birth and breast feeding. Although she did not mention it, HIV can also be transmitted through blood transfusion. It is not transmitted, she emphasizes, through hugs and kisses, sharing drinks, or even if siblings share baths.
But perhaps the hardest thing for many parents of HIV-positive children to deal with is not the adoption process or the financial expenses but the stigma associated with the disease. Twietmeyer says most of the calls to her organization have been from parents of HIV-positive children who ask for help dealing with discrimination against their child in church.
I read another blog during my research for this article that said that caring for an HIV+ child can be easier than caring for a child with juvenile diabetes. [From FAQ: Adopting Children who are HIV Positive (HIV+) which includes quotes from Dr. Jane Aronson]
The family started to tell a few people of their plans. At first no one batted an eye at the HIV diagnosis, but before long the family started to receive resistance from people very close to them. The family backed away from the sibling group sadly, they could not handle the stigma even though this sibling group had their hearts.
I read this story as part of an e-mail, and started crying. How many people have turned away a child because of the stigma of a special need (the HIV+ status was the perfect example but there are many more Hep C, Hep B, family history of mental illness)? Do we as a society have a desire to help change some of these stigmas or does it benefit us to continue to allow them to flourish?
Where do we draw the line in the sand? What diseases carry the stigma, sometimes even in the medical community, and what ones don’t? Apparently at least with HIV+ children, the line is moving in the right direction in Russia at least as one article from April of 2010 indicates that adoption of HIV+ children is on the rise.
I am not asking you to adopt an HIV+ child, heck as always I am not asking you to adopt any special needs child but please help me advocate for these children who have no voice of their own right now! And help me spread the news about all of these disorders that carry drastic stigmas that are typically wrong, like I said in my last post ~ Children cannot have too much love as long as the person offering the love is genuine.