Archive for Adoption

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  http://www.fromhivtohome.org/faqs/  …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.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/health-13381292?SThisEM

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 http://www.projecthopeful.org/images/stories/PDF_2/truthrevised.pdf  (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. http://positivelyorphaned.org/hiv-adoption/  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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Arguments for the Adoption Option

Many may wonder why there has to be arguments at all with adoption. Before our entry into the world of adoption, I only walked around the edge of the topic, but I had known quite a bit about trafficking and community development, which intersects with it. Once we began to engage the topic of adoption, first through foster/adopt (due to my job in foster care as well as Adam’s family’s experience in foster care) and then international adoption (mainly through what felt like a specific call from God on both of our hearts that started long ago), we started engaging some new topics.

Most anyone who has chosen to adopt (through any means) knows that for some reason, adoption opens the doors to all sorts of questions that biological family building does not. Motives for adoption, where one adopts from, etc are often topics. Verifying that adoption is ethical is also, of course a big topic as well, as it should be.

So, I’d love to address some topics that we’ve been asked, and honestly some things, we’ve had to struggle through:

Question 1 – Why international adoption, aren’t there kids who need families right here?

More than 250,000 children enter foster care each year and there are currently 100,000-150,000 kids in need of adoption through foster care.

There are 149 Million -163 Million estimated orphans worldwide.

Sounds like crazy needs in both places, so I figure, if someone has the heart and means to adopt internationally, then there is certainly the need and if someone has the heart and means to adopt domestically, then awesome. Both types of adoption have different issues and some of the same issues. Private adoption and international adoption costs an insane amount of money, while foster-adopt is supposed to be free, come with a stipend (sometimes after adoption), with healthcare, and with college funding. International adoption addresses global poverty issues and taps into the millions of orphans affected worldwide and private adoption offers an alternative to abortion, often before children would enter the foster system. My view? YAY for it all. Praise GOD for it all. I’m so so glad that God calls His people into all of these categories to be part of restoring the lives of these children. I am humbled by those I see who have done it well, in all camps.

Question 2 – What about the stories of unethical adoptions and child trafficking in international adoption?

Well, honestly, some of the stories are true. There are unethical adoptions – a lot to make money and some done by people cutting corners in third world countries because birth/death documents are hard to come by. There is child trafficking in adoption – for nasty purposes – sex trafficking and organ harvesting. (Yep – there is a short supply of child organs so there are cases of rich Westerners and Asians finding their own ways of getting organs for their dying children). Make you want to wash your hands clean of all international adoption? It is an easy solution, but a short-sighted one.

First, think twice: Child trafficking (for all sorts of purposes) is the 3rd largest (and moving up the scale fast) criminal enterprise in the world. Do we really think that if we close adoption, that it will help? THE OPPOSITE is true. Now, children aren’t finding homes and staying in institutions. Now, there isn’t as much room in orphanages for the endless supply of children without homes in these vulnerable situations. Now, street children (and street babies, because they exist in many countries) can be plucked off the street. The traffickers thank those who have closed adoption in the country.

Second, take a deeper look: So, who has closed adoption in most countries? What articles have you read that are anti-international adoption or heightening the scare of trafficking in adoption? Many of the authors come from a similar line of a camp of anti-adoption agencies – of which Unicef, I’m sad to say, steers much of. I’m not sure where Unicef got off the track and I’m sure they are still doing great work in many ways, but Unicef is responsible for a high percentage of countries that have closed adoption. They are openly anti-international-adoption. They talk a great game of wanting to keep children in their own country and community development (which I am all for and will address later), but it appears that they are better at counting how many orphans there are in the world then they are at giving the children alternatives to living their lives on streets or institutions. http://ethicsalarms.com/2010/12/08/unicefs-unethical-war-against-international-adoption

Third, another sad truth: Abortion clinics are not just making there way across America, but around the world and the results are sick. In China, due to the rules of family planning, many women have abortions just before they give birth: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/photo-of-baby-aborted-in-china-at-9-months-in-forced-abortion-circulates-on , but don’t worry (I’m being disgustingly sarcastic), those dead fetuses aren’t going to waste: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/05/south-koreans-confiscated-pills-human-remains.html  . Since adoption isn’t in place or has been closed in many countries in Africa, Planned Parenthood has a business proposal for Africa: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/international-planned-parenthoods-strategic-goal-increase-abortion-services-82-percent . Even for those who aren’t Christian, I fear the argument that this is what the women might want isn’t strong because Africa is primarily Christian or Muslim and neither are for abortion, so giving a women abortion as her only option to continue to work and support her family for fear she can’t take care of a child, isn’t seeing her for who she or her culture is.

Some solutions to all sorts of problems above:

1 – Sponsorship and Community Development

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I must confess that my husband and I have asked ourselves the hard question in the middle of this adoption process “Have we forgotten half of this verse?” What I mean by that is: Are we taking the orphan and leaving the widow? It was a stomach-sickening thought that somehow we could wonderfully adopt a child that we love, but leave a woman who is a widow and barely able to survive. (To be classified as a legal orphan a child has to have one or more deceased parent and if there is a living parent they have to be unable to care for the child – usually due to extreme poverty or illness). It was something that almost led us to stop the process of adoption. However, I was reminded that there are basically 2 responses to these issue and they both must happen. The first is a response to the immediate global orphan crisis – that is short term, but needed (thus we are continuing our adoption process). The other is the long term response of community development (which I could never be more of an advocate for). If Unicef’s true goal is community development, while I don’t agree that they ought to cut off adoption before any community or country is ready to deal with their orphan problem, I agree with community development as the ultimate goal. Ultimately, communities can be built up strong to care for the orphans within their own extended families and communities. I love World Vision, Compassion International, and World Relief for this. http://blog.compassion.com/i-will-not-leave-you-as-orphans

2 – Remember Your Adoption

What? You weren’t adoption? If you are a follower of Christ, you are. He came to our sick orphanage, where we were in bars and hopeless. He gave up Himself that He could adopt us and make us his own. “Adoption is a visible gospel. It’s really a re-telling of what our story is of coming into God’s family” (Steven Curtis Chapman)

3 – Don’t Give up on Agencies that have been doing it well

While an agency cannot control everything within a foreign country, many agencies have been doing great jobs for a long time and many are going to great lengths to improve. Some agencies I have been impressed with over and over again with the personal reviews of others, their history, and personal contact etc, are: AWAA, Holt, AGCI for traditional adoption and Kidsave for hosting/advocating/adopting older children.

4 – Do not forget what the fight is

In trafficking – the fight is against the demand and against those supplying. We can fight those. Trying to take away the supply is a losing battle, but prosecuting both the demand and the traffickers puts fear where is should be. We can support those efforts. In poverty, we can fight that too!

5 – See it for yourself:

Go! Go to orphanages (both the good and the bad). Go to Africa or to Asia or to South America where the idea of finding birth certificates and death certificates in the middle of a slum or a famine is an absolute joke. Look at that little one and just say, “sorry, no papers, you don’t get a family” or instead, feel how totally hard the whole situation is. There is both the good desire to double check ethics and a reality of logistics that instantly takes millions of children off the list for available adoption. The dilemna of much of international adoption is just this – it is confusing because it was NEVER meant to be. God never intended for their to be orphans or broken families or famines or corrupt people. So, we just aren’t totally sure how best to solve it. It doesn’t mean we walk away. It means we walk to it.

6 – Stop casting stones and be part of changing what you don’t like instead

I am obviously grateful for regulations like Hague in adoption, but if I am honest, I think so many regulations actually confine so many children to lives in institutions instead of lives in loving homes. However, if I am honest, I don’t have a better solution, so I can’t go too far in griping about it. In the end, I am grateful that something exists that allows some adoptions to proceed. I can, however, be a huge part of the fight against trafficking, like I mentioned above and part of rebuilding communities.

7 – Praise God for His creative Restoration

Even in light of closed adoptive countries, there are many organizations and people doing incredible things to restore the lives of orphans. Organizations I know personally like ERM http://www.ermrwanda.org  in Rwanda and Bring Love In http://bringlove.in  in Ethiopia bring orphans and widows together. Widows usually have homes and orphans need a home. They train the two to live and love on one another. Awesome. There are other organizations many places like Kampala Children’s Center (of which their AMAZING choir was staying at our home a week ago to be back in a month): http://www.kampalachildren.com  actually adopt the children to raise them up in home-like atmospheres so that they can be future leaders to the communities around them (Uganda lost a generation of leaders to the LRA and AIDS). The kids from there are doing amazing, many going to university as role models to the surrounding communities.

8 – Decide now that you would offer your child’s organs in the case of death

I know that this is a strange thing to mention, but I mention it because of this: Obviously there is a problem. Ideally a person would never seek some sick solution to their child dying and we could cut off the demand for such things as child organs. However, we must look at the reality that there is a demand partially because other parents didn’t let their children’s bodies go. I hope that if my child died and their body/organs were healthy, that I would know I had already made this decision to let my child’s life further bless another family. It could give many children a longer chance to hear about Jesus. Often times, people get to meet their donor’s families and you could let your child’s life legacy and Christ’s legacy be known to that family in a VERY powerful way. I know I haven’t lost a child and I would NEVER cast a judgment on a grieving mom, but I just say that I hope that somehow me making a decision now with my husband about this, would help me in that moment do something extraordinary, even if just to remember that my child is no longer in that body, but in whole with the One who made him/her.

We don’t know the end of our story yet. We don’t know if something will happen with Ethiopia and they will close adoption and we’ll be out serious cash and hopes. We don’t know if we’ll adopt and be discouraged for reasons and not do it again. We don’t know if we’ll adopt many more kids from different avenues (I HOPE). I say all that to say that I know that I am still early in this, but even if I get massively screwed in this whole deal (whatever that means), I am still responsible to:

Obey God in Scripture and He calls all believers to care for orphans in widows in some way (not necessarily to adopt, but care for them) both short and long term – there are many to choose from

Obey God’s specific call on my life and right now it is to pursue international adoption

Cheer on those who are working hard to obey God’s redeeming work in whatever ways they feel called to.

Thank God that in the end, He wins and He will restore all this mess….and believe that He wishes to do so much of it NOW!

Favorite blogs:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristen-howerton/mothers-day-adoptive-parent_b_1504010.html (from Rage Against the Minivan)

http://rebekahpinchback.blogspot.com/search/label/open%20adoption

Other organizations have encouraged me:

http://www.theradiancefoundation.org/topics/the-beauty-of-adoption

http://www.showhope.org

http://www.lifesongfororphans.org

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I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you…” John 14;8

My God’s heart is one of adoption.  Joseph adopted Jesus. Moses was adopted.  God’s call to specifically care for the orphans and widows are throughout the Old and New Testament http://ourfathersorphans.blogspot.com/2009/07/bible-verses-regarding-orphans.html.  I am so aware that if God did not have a heart of adoption, that I would not be in His family, have a new identity with Him and have a new home in Heaven.  I would surely be like many foster children I see in my job : lost, trying to fill an empty void with different strategies of fits for attention, and unquenchable need for affection, and just disfunction from a  broken life and heart.  I am not different and it is a lie if I act like I am better.

I have been reflecting on LOVE as it is February and I can’t avoid stores like Walmart as they ploy to vomit red hearts onto my home decor and Red40 food dye into my family’s diet.  For me, only having biological children so far…I experience love this way:

I look at my son, who is insecure.  He was born that way.  It is not nurture as my daughter believes that she may be the coolest person on the planet.  It is just a weakness, struggle he came with.  It is tragic to me that he is so insecure about what he does and who he is.  Why?  Of course it is because I am his mom and don’t want him to feel bad, but it is way more than that:  I sometimes just sit and look at him and feel as if I am pouring love over him.  My affection, my care, my pride for him, my gratitude to be his mother…all of it feels like it is intangibly pouring over him as I look at him.  I ache and my heart hurts because I love him so much (I feel the same way about my daughter).  I feels particularly tragic with my son because he just sits there and doesn’t feel it.  He just keeps on feeling bad about things (not always –  it has gotten way better over the years, but he is definitely harder on himself than the average kid).  How could he be insecure if I love him so much?  How could he doubt he could do something or even care about it if he knew how much I care?  It seems appauling – both tragic and beautiful.  Yet – how different is it than me and God?  I doubt myself and talk crap to myself every day…but God came to buy me – literally – with the cross.  He adopted me…He is pouring His love over me.  Yet somehow I can’t muster up believing it all so often. I can believe it for everyone else, but not for me.  The more I reflect on this reality, the more I long for restoration and redemption in my life and in the lives of those around me – for children who do not have the parent to pour love over them.  They have believed the lie that their parents hold the truth about them (if their parents chose bad things over parenting them well) or the lie that they weren’t wanted (if circumstance made adoption the reality in their life).   Our world is messed up….and that is the truth.  The truth is God’s our worth, identity and reality.  He has called us to care for orphans (in many different ways) because they are the most vulnerable, representing His heart….but what a better chance for life restoration and multiplication than orphan care.  Like I said, there are many ways, through donating to organizations, foster care or respite care, donating your time to orphans locally or globally or adopting.  They need your tears and prayers too.  http://youtu.be/zwY-BUJgRhw

We are so blessed to be called on a journey to our 3rd child (our first to are biological).  We will hopefully meet our little boy from Ethiopia in about 2 years.  Our adoption blog is www.goodworthsgoglobal.wordpress.com  We’ll let you know how it goes, but can’t even tell you how much love I already have for this little one I’ve never met.  I long to pour my love on him as well – the day can’t come soon enough.

BTW –

I am completely impressed with our organization AGCI and the way they are completely up front with us on everything that is going on with our files, the country, our status, etc.  There are a lot of things changing in Ethiopian adoption, but our agency is completely transparent about it all.  I am grateful.  I have also heard great things about AWAA and Holt.

I also have recently come into contact with KidSave – it is a organization that does adoption, but particularly is the hosting and advocating of Columbian youth during the summer and winter miracles program that I find awesome.  Their success rate of adoption is incredible.  They choose the kids that will do best in adoption and these are older youth who will get lost once they turn 13 and go into a different older foster system.  I have followed several blogs about it and am totally broken and amazed by it.  www.kidsave.org

“Adoption is a visible gospel.  It’s really a re-telling of what our story is of coming into God’s family”  Steven Curtis Chapman

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