More and more families in the US are adopting HIV positive children, mostly from foreign countries:
While most adoptions present challenges, there’s a distinctive set of them facing parents who decide to adopt children living with HIV. A twice-daily medication regimen, lingering prejudice and fear, uncertainty about the child’s longevity and marriage prospects. Yet the number of U.S. parents undertaking HIV adoptions, or seriously considering them, is surging — from a trickle five years ago to at least several hundred. Most involve orphans from foreign countries where they faced stigma, neglect and the risk of early death.
“I can’t think of a more significant way to make an impact than to do this,” said Margaret Fleming, a 74-year-old Chicagoan whose nine adopted children include three HIV-positive first graders. “These kids were, in many ways, the modern-day lepers,” she said. Ignorance and bias related to HIV haven’t vanished in the United States. But the stigma is steadily lessening, especially compared to many of the other countries that are home to an estimated 2.5 million children with the disease.
At forums and over the Internet, parents who have adopted HIV-positive kids are offering advice and encouragement to those who might follow suit. In February, Bethany Christian Services — the largest U.S. adoption agency — unveiled a detailed educational package about HIV adoptions to help the growing number of interested parents make informed decisions. One of the most difficult challenges, for many families, is deciding whom they will tell about the adoptive child’s HIV status. Health care providersmust be informed — otherwise, under federal and state confidentiality laws, it’s entirely optional whether parents notify school officials, neighbors, or anyone else.
As a result, families’ approaches vary widely — some are totally open while others, fearful of stigma, guard the information so tightly that even the child may be kept in the dark for many years.
Would you adopt a child who was HIV positive???