This article is on the Rainbow Kids website
Adopting a Child with HIV
January 01,2009 / Bethany
Adopting a baby or child with HIV is becoming increasingly popular as potential adoptive parents are gaining more knowledge about the virus, and finding that it is one of the most easily managed of all special needs. Children with HIV are exactly the same as all other children with the addition of daily medication to keep their immune systems operating normally, and quarterly doctors' visits to check their blood which ensures the medications are working properly. In every other way, these kids are normal, healthy, intelligent kids, and they lead regular lifestyles including camps, sleepovers and athletics.
You may be surprised to find out that children with HIV have close to normal life expectancy due to the excellent treatments that are currently available in the developed world. All of the tragic stories that we hear about children dying of AIDS are due to lack of medication in underdeveloped countries, although antiretroviral treatments are thankfully now becoming more widely available to impoverished nations. Treatment is so good now that people who are diligent about their meds are now living to old age without their HIV progressing to AIDS, and they are giving birth to healthy children.
The first question many potential adoptive parents have is often regarding transmission as they are nervous that a child with pediatric HIV might be contagious' to others. The reason these unfounded fears exist, is due to misinformation spread in the 1980s before medical professionals knew the facts about HIV transmission. Fortunately, now we know that HIV is not transmitted in a household or educational setting. The truth is that HIV is a part of our society and we all associate with people who have HIV, even though we may not know it. For example, HIV positive children are in schools and daycares with HIV negative children, and adults with HIV are preparing and serving food in supermarkets and restaurants. If this idea frightens you, it shouldn't, because HIV is not transmitted in any casual way. You cannot get HIV from sharing food and drinks, sharing a bathtub or pool, changing a diaper, hugging and kissing, or sharing a bed or toilet. You can get HIV through unprotected sex and intravenously by sharing needles. The only other way HIV is transmitted is from mother to child, which is how millions of orphans have innocently contracted the virus.
Children with HIV can be adopted from the United States, Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, Haiti, India, Latvia, China, Ghana, Estonia and other countries. Beautiful, sweet, healthy HIV+ children of all ages are waiting for loving families. Adoption fees are often reduced making this an affordable option. Your existing health insurance covers adopted children regardless of pre-existing conditions, exactly the same as biological children. HIV is no longer considered a terminal illness, but rather a chronic yet manageable condition and health care professionals now consider it easier to maintain than other long term conditions, such as diabetes. The only reason these facts are not widely known is due to the stigma that unfortunately still surrounds HIV. Almost any parent raising a child with HIV will tell you that disclosure is the biggest issue they have not health, not transmission, but disclosing their child's HIV status. Fortunately, there are strict laws protecting people with HIV and disclosure is entirely optional. You are not required to tell the school, church, coaches, neighbors or anyone else.
There are many orphaned children listed with adoption agencies. Others may be found by logging into your account on the RainbowKids.com Waiting Child area. An excellent source of information and waiting children links can be found at PositivelyOrphaned.com www.PositivelyOrphaned.com