I would like to share some information about the two newest additions to our adoption. As I mentioned in my last post, we found them on the Reece's Rainbow website. All the children on Reece's Rainbow have a special need of some sort. Reece's Rainbow was orignially set up to advocate for orphans with Down syndrome, but they have expanded and now advocate for orphans with many differnt special needs. Praise the Lord! They are providing HOPE for these children for which adoption is there only hope. What an incredible thing.
Since all the children on Reece's Rainbow have a special need of some sort, that means our two new angels do too. Parker and Josslyn are both HIV+. I know that a large percentage of you who read my blog are already educated about HIV, so this isn't any kind of shocking news. But I am sure that there are a few of you, that those 3 little letters just made your head spin, as it did mine when I first learned that there were HIV+ orphans available for adoption. My first thought was, "Why in the world would anyone adopt a child with HIV?? Aren't folks with HIV sickly, and contagious, and just sitting around waiting to die?" I was very clueless. I have since educated myself, and found that I was completely ignorant on the topic all together. Before judging us, rejecting our precious children, or jumping to any conclusions, I am asking if you will please educate yourself on the topic of HIV too.
After you read the rest of this blog post, please mosey your way over to Positively Orphaned, From HIV to Home, and Project Hopeful, to find out more information about HIV. Or heck, you could just skip my post all together and go do some research for yourself. Either way is fine with me, but PLEASE do some research.
For those of you who decided to stick around, here is just a little bit of information:
-First, and possibly most importantly, HIV is NOT AIDS. For many, the term HIV is synonymous with AIDS. They are two very different things. HIV is the virus that can cause AIDS, if it is left untreated.
-Children with HIV are the same as all other kids, with the addition of daily medication to keep their immune systems strong.
-HIV is now considered a chronic but manageble disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long full lives.
-HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is NOT spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sharing towels, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming, or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding, and blood to blood contact, such as sharing needles.(Now go back to the beginning of this one and read it again. Keep re-reading it until it sinks in and dispells any fears you may have.)
-Children with HIV who receive medication live normal healthy lives. They can play sports, have sleep overs, go to camp, attend day care and public school, etc. They look like other children and play like other children. They take medicine in the morning and evening. They will have 4 or more appointments a year with a specialist that monitors their blood levels to make sure the medication is working properly.
-The biggest medical concerns for children with HIV is taking their medication and seeing the doctor every 3 months. When they get colds, bacterial infections, and viruses like other children, they can take over the counter medications or perscription medication(Neither of these interfere with there HIV meds.) There illness typically last the same length and are the same severity of non-HIV children.
-HIV+ children and adults who are on proper medication, usually have undetectable HIV. Meaning that the levels of HIV in their blood is so low that it is undetectable.
-Life expectancy is close to normal with proper treatment. Doctors claim that children with HIV can expect to live as long as any other child with a long term chronic illness, such as diabetes, although HIV is generally considered a more manageable condition.
-People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support, and acceptance as all people do. If any one wants more information on tranmission, there is great information on the Center for Disease Control website.
There is a TON of other good information out there about HIV. I urge you to do your own research to set your mind at ease of any concerns you may have for us, our children, your children, or yourself. I was uneasy when I first felt God calling us in this direction. I knew nothing about HIV and I had the typical misconceptions that the majority of people who are not educated about HIV have. After educating myself, I can honestly say that I no longer have any concerns whatsoever about tranmission to my children or others. I would never do something to intentionally put Luke, Ray, or Kellen at risk of harm. We didn't jump in to this on a whim, the Lord led us to these children. We also did plenty of praying and researching before we officially committed to adopt them. We read, prayed, enlisted an awesome prayer warrior, and talked to parents who have already adopted children who are HIV+. Once again, I ask you to please take some time to do some research and educate yourselves before you jump to any conclusions.
Thank you so much for your support and excitement about our newest additions! I can't wait to get them home and watch them blossom!