I Have Something Important to Say

Well, actually, I’m going to let this video say it.

There are a lot of kids that wait for families who will not be adopted because they are HIV-positive. I believe this is in large part due to fear. I know that the reason HIV-positive was on our short list of things we weren’t ready for was because of fear and uncertainty and the stigma we knew our child would face. We asked ourselves, “Would we adopt only to have to watch our child die?” That’s an incredibly frightening prospect. And then the other question, “Would people be willing to interact with our child and allow their children to play with our child if they were to somehow discover the diagnosis?” For our area of the country–and maybe many areas of the country–we felt the answer would often be no. And we didn’t want to give our daughter that kind of a life. So I’m passing this video on to educate others. Our friends, our family, our community, the Western world at large. I would very much like to be open to adopting an HIV-positive child in the future. I am open to adopting an HIV-positive child in the future. I just need some other people to ditch the fear and jump on that wagon with me.

So I’m asking you to help. Please spread the word by linking to this video and to ProjectHopeful.org. Because every child deserves to grow up in a family. Every child. Not just the perfectly healthy ones.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “I Have Something Important to Say

  1. Wow. That’s powerful. And sad. I had to be honest with myself here and ask whether I would consider adopting a child with HIV or not, or whether I would let mine play with that one or not. It’s a disease with so much stigma attached, so much fear. Some of it cruel, some of it justified. I would adopt a sick/ handicapped kid in a heartbeat. BUT, there is the other side of it…adopting is so expensive anyway, a family really has to be financially and emotionally prepared for something like this. Sad, but that makes their adoptability even harder.

    • findingmagnolia

      Nancy, I really appreciate your comment and feedback. You’re really making me think, as I seek to understand better where others are coming from. So thank you! My question is (and maybe it’s partly rhetorical), why wouldn’t someone let their child play with a kid that has HIV? There are ZERO cases of HIV infection due to casual contact like kids playing together. ZERO. Not even one. So there’s no real risk, only a perceived risk. That perceived risk is the culprit, and it is not justified because it’s based on untruths. This is why education is so important. Unless you think that your child and a child with HIV are suddenly going to discover sex or intravenous drug use, then it is perfectly safe. I appreciate your honesty, and I am not saying this with a ring of judgment, just to say, hey, it IS safe for children to play together even if one has HIV, and we need to get that information out and soak it in and work hard at ending our knee-jerk reactions that result in so much inaccurate information and stigma.

      I am also curious to know what part of the fear and stigma you would consider to be justified. Again, not asking in judgment, but really seeking to understand what people think so we can all be better educated. I know that I held on to some powerful fears and stereotypes about HIV and AIDS, but like the video says, this is now a chronic condition (not a death sentence like it was in the beginning) and is not transmitted with casual contact. That some people make some very unwise choices which result in HIV/AIDS infection is true, but I think that even in those situations, we can recognize that this life isn’t always easy, that addictions are powerful, that people often make bad choices because they feel invincible (ah, the foolishness of youth). And with kids, well…it’s just not their fault. AT ALL. I think that stigma needs to vanish for those kids, that we would see them as the lovely people they are, that we would recognize their need and their right to love and respect and equality.

      As far as adoption goes, I’m not saying that everyone should make the same choices we’ve made or will make. We all have to choose how we will live our lives based on our own circumstances, strengths, and limitations. Yes, adoption is expensive, and it is not for everyone, and I don’t think that HIV+ adoption is for everyone. What I would love to see is people making an informed choice about it, informed by facts, not fears. If the door could be opened for us to pursue this without people being afraid of our child, and for others who didn’t have accurate information before to be open to it as well, then that would be amazing.

      Thanks again for your comment. I really hope that we can all dialogue well about this and make life better for kids with HIV.

  2. So awesome. I know a brave young couple in Montgomery, Alabama who is in the process of adopting an HIV positive 5-year old from Uganda. Talk about very, very hard. I hope that my husband and I can be open to doing the same in the future. Right now, yes…so much fear.

    Rebekka

  3. Sharon

    Okay, question, is there a risk of blood-to-blood infection, as in 2 kids playing both cut themselves? I realize this would be rare, but is it a risk for infection?

    • findingmagnolia

      If they cut themselves and press their cuts together, then yes, but there are ZERO infection cases of this nature. ZERO. So to call it a risk…well…it’s highly questionable. A child is far more likely to be injured (or die) in an automobile accident, yet parents feel comfortable putting their children in cars every single day. So if the risk for death is higher when putting your child in a car than if they play with a child that is HIV+ (ZERO cases of this type of transmission, let me say again), then why are all these people putting their children in vehicles but not comfortable allowing them to play with an HIV+ child? It boils down to stigma, not risk.

      The other point I’d like to make about this is that even if a child had the very first case of this nature (ever), HIV is no longer a death sentence for those in the Western world. It’s a chronic illness, and with ARVs (just like the video says), it becomes undetectable, and lifespan is the same as for the non-HIV+ population.

  4. Sharon

    Btw, here’s a cool camp not far from me “for kids age 6—17 who are impacted by HIV/AIDS. Many of the children that attend Camp Moomba are confronted by similar issues in their lives, many live in difficult socio-economic situations. By coming together each year they are able to find the type of support that can only come from understanding.

    ““Moomba” is an Australian Aboriginal word that means “join together to have fun” and forms our camp’s philosophy: Friends Together Having Fun.”

    http://www.campmoomba.com/

    One may donate online, if one wishes.

  5. Hi- sorry, I suppose time flew and well, I just forgot to check back! Just wanted to address your comments/ questions. First, I’m not at all thinking you stand in judgment. And if you do, it doesn’t matter, everyone is entitled to their opinions. I’m an open minded person and try to be very honest with myself about my responses.

    Anyway, that said, I suppose one fear I could see having is what Sharon asked, and you already addressed concerning the risk of one kid contracting the disease through some freak accident where blood is exposed and maybe one tires to help the other and well…I realize it is an absurd thought with basically zero chance of happening. But you have to admit, most people’s mind would go there, even those that have some basic education about the disease. It’s just something heavy; it marks people. I suppose that’s what I meant by justified, but maybe it’s not so much justified in that it’s the right cloud to jump to, but a popular one.

    I also don’t think that a mother/ kid/ person infected with the disease should feel like they have to announce it to everyone like they are some sort of a sex offender or something. It’s obviously their choice, and heading down that line of thought, I wonder what a parent might do if they find out a friend of their child’s is infected after they are close.

    All of this is hypothetical, and neither here nor there…but interesting non the less.

    • findingmagnolia

      I figured that you either had gotten offended or just got busy. I’m glad it’s the latter! I know that people’s minds automatically go to the worst case scenario, and I get it, because I’ve done that (and DO that), but that’s what frustrates me the most. Why go to the worst case scenario when in other situations, people’s minds don’t go that far? I think it’s just the way that we have learned to approach this disease. I’m just hoping that we can all forge new neural pathways that would lead us toward compassion as opposed to fear.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and respond, Nancy. I really appreciate it.

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