Joshua and I have felt the Lord lay it upon our hearts that now is the time for us to pursue adoption. For many of you, this will seem sudden or out of the blue. Not for us though. We have been quietly praying for some time now. For the sake of everyone's emotions, we chose to keep it quiet until we felt we had an answer from the Lord. We have come to that place now and we are eagerly looking forward to the journey ahead. The first thing we would like to share is a bit of information about the boy the Lord has placed in our hearts. Backstory: As I watched some dear friends go through their adoption journey, the Lord really spoke to my heart saying, 'Pay attention. This will be you'. Josh and I always loosely talked about adopting, but the "plan" was to adopt a baby domestically once we were done having our own biological kids. I felt like lately though, the Lord was opening my heart and mind to the possibility of something different. As we began praying about it, we felt our hearts really open to the idea of adopting, as they say, "out of birth order". (Meaning a child older than your youngest.) After we became comfortable with that idea, the Lord showed me this:
He broke my heart for these "least of these".
I began doing some research and started reading the blogs of families that have adopted HIV+ children and what their day to day life is like. I was absolutely shocked to realize how doable it is. There was one waiting child profile that I came across very early on in my research. I was instantly struck by how much he resembled my own kids. There was, however, no information about him on that particular listing. Only a country. Russia. I prayed for the little guy, but didn't think there was anything I could do about him at that time.
A couple weeks later, while attending a church event, the topic of orphans was once again brought up. The ministry that we were attending an event with was talking about how their ministry proceeds go to sponsoring and caring for orphans all over the world.
Josh and I left that service feeling even more certain that the Lord was preparing our hearts for adoption. And particularly of someone who would otherwise have little hope. We felt the Lord soften our hearts to the idea of an older child. We were no longer afraid of the idea of someone with HIV. Several days later, while viewing the website that our friends found their son through, I saw that same little boy again. This time I was much more prepared for the idea of adopting him. We started praying to determine if the Lord would have us to move forward, and open up communication with the agency. The Lord showed me this verse in Psalm. "God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy." Psalm 68:6. Jesus is the Father to the fatherless and are we not called to be imitators of Him? For this reason, Josh and I have decided to "take the plunge". I know there are questions in your minds, so I will do my best to answer the most common ones.
Q~ Who is this boy? What can you tell us about him?
A~ We know him as "Ross". Is that his actual name? Dunno. He is 5 years old, turning 6 in Feb. He is indeed HIV+. He does NOT have AIDS. We do not know if he was surrendered, abandoned or orphaned by the death of his mother. He is currently in an orphanage, but we don't know how long until he would be transferred to a 'boarding institution'. His chances of being adopted in his home country are minimal due to his age and medical status. I have attached his photo.
Q~How will his HIV affect your life, and the health of your other kids? Aren't you concerned they could get it?
A~ There is a ton of false information about the disease out there. Having HIV does not mean he will die young, he is not sickly, and he does not have AIDS. Many people don't understand the difference between HIV and AIDS. AIDS is a complication of untreated HIV. If the HIV is treated properly, AIDS does not happen. The treatment of HIV includes the following:
HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It is a virus that attacks the immune system.
Over time, and without treatment, HIV gradually destroys the body's defenses against disease, leaving it vulnerable to many infections and cancers that do not normally develop.
Even without treatment, some people living with HIV have no symptoms; some have mild health problems, while others have severe health problems associated with AIDS.
AIDS is a late stage of HIV disease. By the time of an AIDS diagnosis, HIV has already seriously damaged the body's immune system. Often, a person living with AIDS will already have had life-threatening infections or cancers.
It usually takes 10 years or more for an HIV infection to turn into AIDS. However, anti-HIV medications can radically interfere with HIV’s destruction of the immune system and lengthen a person’s life expectancy. With proper treatment, some people now living with HIV may never develop AIDS and can live a normal life span. Studies suggest that starting treatment early in the course of infection can significantly improve long-term treatment success. Ross has been on treatment since his diagnosis. I'm not sure if it was at birth or not.
There is now a wide range of HIV medications available to people in the United States that fall into six different categories according to the method by which they interfere with HIV reproducing itself in the body. The range of medications is important, because to be effective the drugs must be taken in combination with others in order to attack the virus from many different points in the replication process. This is often called, “combination therapy,” on an HIV “regimen.” Although no singular regimen can cure HIV, they are able, by and large, to prevent further damage to your body once you start taking them. The most important thing about therapy is “adherence,” or taking your medications everyday as they’re prescribed. The better your treatment adherence, the better your chances for living a long and healthy life on treatment.
The following "bodily fluids" are NOT infectious:
Recent studies offer evidence and raise questions about the role of antiretroviral medications in curbing the spread of HIV. This means that even if there was exposure to the virus from a person on consistent treatment, the chances of passing it on are low. There has NEVER been a case of it being transmitted between family members without there being drug or sexual abuse present. There are three ways it can be spread. Sexual contact, sharing of needles, and mother to child through breast milk. So to answer the question of being concerned for the health of my other kids..... NO. I am not concerned. Knowledge is power.
Take a moment to watch this video:
Q~ Why international adoption when there are so many kids in need stateside?
A~ This answer is simple. Jesus loves each child the same. His love has no borders. We feel that He placed Ross in our hearts and where he is located is secondary in importance. He knows what He's doing and we trust that He is leading us with a specific purpose. Russia, China, Africa, America..... Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight. Our time living abroad gave us hearts for the WORLD and opened our eyes to the fact that there are needs everywhere, not just in our own backyard. We're globally minded, what can we say? :)
Q~ Isn't adoption expensive? How will you afford it?
A~ The estimated cost is under 25K. 25K is a huge number, but when you consider that the tax credit for special needs adoption is 10k, you're looking at 15K dollars. This is a large number, but we are trusting in the Lord to provide the funds necessary. We will be fundraising and applying for grants through several organizations. We will keep you all posted as to what fundraisers we will be doing and when. We have one adoption account set up and the Lord put in on the heart of a perfect stranger to donate to it. This man who does not know us at all, has gifted us with our first 50 dollars. Praise the Lord! Our family page can be viewed here:
We believe that we will see miracles. Be on the lookout for them with us!
So in conclusion for now, we invite you to pray with us. Pray for us. Pray for Ross. Ask questions, get answers, journey with us as we climb aboard what promises to be an adventurous ride. The prize at the end is surely worth it.