Archive for September, 2012

AIDS and Adoption

AIDS in Africa vs AIDS in America (worlds apart in reality, and even thinking)

So, I have a passion to write this post mostly due to my own ignorance.  I am surprised that I didn’t know all the stuff I am going to share.  Though I am passionate about advocacy for HIV care/education internationally and am relatively on top of that news – I have been poorly educated on what HIV looks like in America and well developed countries.

I have come to research and know more about HIV in America because my husband and I considered adding HIV as something that we are open to among many medical/physical special needs for who we may be referred to in our adoption from Ethiopia.   My agency is awesome because they make me jump through all sorts of hoops to even be qualified in our home-study for HIV.  (We are required ahead of time to know all our insurance info for medications, know how much appointments would cost, know all about life-span, different disease prognosis/tests, and on and on and on).   In it, I don’t know how many times I just kept thinking or saying out loud, “How did I not know this?”  So, I wanted to see who else didn’t know this stuff.

14 years ago I held little babies with HIV or AIDS (depending on the stage of the virus) in Thailand in an orphanage.  Medications were only just starting to mainstream in America and a bunch of Asian babies were tragically never going to see over-priced pharmaceutical drugs at that time.  I remember thinking to myself:  I hope the church steps up to the plate on this one or we have missed the call.

Some of the church did step up to the plate and many still are, but sometimes it seems like Rockstars and Hollywood stars have had a bigger voice about AIDs and other poverty/justice issues than the church.  I went to Africa a couple of years ago and held the hand of a women dying of AIDS and prayed for her.  I confess she met what I pictured of AIDs – skinny, sickly, and black (I’m being too honest here I confess).  But when I look at the issue of AIDS (even before my new information), I see such a justice issue.  It is a 100% preventable disease. Education and drugs are a HUGE part of that prevention (Life transformation is the other key).  I admit, we were scared to adopt an HIV child because we don’t know the facts, but knowing the fact changes things

The facts  …even has a webinar you can watch)

This stuff I kind of knew, but wanted to verify due to small fears inside me:

HIV is only transferred through semen, vaginal fluid, breastfeeding, pregnancy, and intravenous sharing of blood.  HIV is an extremely fragile virus, so once it hits the air, it dies.  There has never been a documented case of anyone contracting the disease in any way besides this.  HIV kids can swim, bathe, kiss, have diapers changed, hug, share cups with (etc) other people and will never share the virus that way.  In addition to how specific the virus is transferred, when an HIV patient is on treatment, the virus becomes so low in their system that it is considered “undetectable” and then isn’t even very easily contracted in the known ways of transferring the virus.

This stuff I was blown away by:

It is estimated that a child with HIV can live a NORMAL life span (the lower end of that suggested life span right now is about 65) with the virus, even possibly never having the virus progress to AIDS if on treatment.  (I had thought somehow that someone had like 5 years to live.  I’m an idiot).  HIV in America is considered a chronic, but manageable disease  (many websites said that diabetes is harder to manage, though obviously has no ability to spread which is why it doesn’t have the same stigma with it).  Why did I not know this?  Is this taught in high school health class or is it just scare tactics against HIV that are taught so stigmas/lies remain?

More stuff to knock your socks off (at least it did mine):

It is assumed that an HIV affected person can (or should) never have a child (at least this is what I had thought…again – I may be totally unlike the norm).  However, because of the drugs available to keep the HIV virus so low in a mother and/or father’s system, they have a 98% chance to having a baby WITHOUT HIV.  That is better than all mental health issues that are passed on and those are harder to manage.  AMAZING.

What does this look like to actually adopt?  Sounds like a lot of medical bills?

Well – Luckily pre-existing conditions are covered on almost all healthcare plans when adopting, including HIV.  In some states it doesn’t even matter because there is such good ADAP assistance care for HIV patients.  In my state, after my research, I found out that ALL the medications would be free and all someone would have extra are 4 $10 co-pays a year for a child to see a specialist.  But, there are grants to help cover more of the adoption costs for these kids because they are considered special needs.  Interesting how it may in the long run be better financially for us – not a reason to adopt, but again NOT what I had thought.

Why I am I writing this?

2 reasons

1st reason – I didn’t know all of this and if I didn’t, I’m guessing some others don’t also.  I believe knowledge changes things.  Little babies dying without families in another country without proper drugs vs. living a full life with the right health care is a justice issue to me.  I will propagate truth.  For me, it could influence on our perspective.

2nd reason – I don’t know what our future holds.  We may very well be bringing home a fairly healthy child/children from Ethiopia, but we felt called into adoption specifically to meet a need and I hope to see God do that (though I crave to squeeze any little munchkin at this point).  If our child has HIV, I am unsure about how much we will disclose that diagnosis to other.  Logically, there is almost nothing to fear (as I shared) so there is nothing to worry about in disclosing, but some feel there is reason to keep that status private.  Regardless – I felt like this info was good to share in case our child has HIV and in case we disclose that– so our family/friends can support us with all the facts.  Please research it for yourself.  God loves truth.  It brings life and hope.

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Global VBS – 2012

Last year (2011) we found an EXCELLENT curriculum called the 10/40 Expedition for VBS’s.  We tweaked it a little so that the craft time was actually service time (instead of making an African craft, we packed food bags for the homeless, etc), but it was certainly a complete, extraordinary curriculum.  IT was out of the ordinary, but very moldable to our desires.  I am so grateful for those who made it.

This year, God provided another curriculum to meet our needs.  It was Hero Headquarters (Where kids can join forces WITH God).  The camp was intended to be a normal VBS, but it did have an extra push for service and God’s heart for the poor/oppressed.  We added/tweaked a lot, but the curriculum allowed it and had all the structure we needed.  The skits we goofy and fun. We collected food throughout the week for a food pantry and money for a leprosy project of one of our church missionaries (who was here to share).

I can’t remember how the original curriculum went, but this is how we did it (again – we changed a lot):


Day 1

Bible Story – The Boy who offers his fish and loaves

Focus – Serving the Hungry

Craft – decorate hero cape (to be worn the rest of the week) and make a magnet to go on the fridge to remind us to serve the hungry

Game – Dig for food in trash (clean recyclables).  Each child finds food (a piece of paper that tells them if/what they found for food that day).  Very impactful

Missionaries – The teens had just gotten back from Paraguay and talked about serving in many ways there

Evangelism Training – Wordless Bracelets/Book Colors


Day 2

Bible Story – Men who lowered friend through roof before Jesus to have him healed

Focus – Prayer

Missionaries – Friends in serve in the Middle East among Muslims and need lots of prayer

Craft – Made soccer balls out of plastic bags like kids do all around the world when they don’t  have actual soccer balls

Game – Soccer (International Sport)

Evangelism Training – Jesus/Cross as Bridge between Man on one cliff and God on other and other analogies


Day 3

Bible Story – Contrast of Rich Young Ruler and Widow’s Mite

Focus – Giving

Missionaries – Missionary from Sudan who we were giving toward that week

Craft – make bank out of water bottles

Game – Water walking game (learning about water issues globally)

Evangelism Training – wordless skits used in evangelism


Day 4

Bible Story – Esther

Focus – Standing Up

Missionary – Women who worked to fight child labor/slavery

Craft – Making red hands (to remind us to stand up) and putting hands on Red Hand Campaign protest poster

Game –  Stand up for someone

Evangelism Training – Evangecube


Day 5

Bible story – Philip Evangelizes

Focus – Sharing our Faith

Missionary – Women who led families to poor communities in Canada and serves locally and shares faith

Craft – Making a tract to share own faith with colors

Game – Obstacle Course of getting the Bible to someone

Evangelism Training – What is a testimony?  Do you have one?  How do you give one?


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