When we decided to adopt, we opened up our family and our life and our home for scrutiny. We had to be fingerprinted and have our background checked. And we had to be interviewed by a social worker several times to make sure that we were fairly normal and mostly sane and could be approved to raise children!
During the interviews and home study process, the social worker has to approve you for a certain number of children that they feel you are capable of adopting. And they have to approve the age range of the children you can adopt. And they have to specially approve you if you want to adopt any children with special needs or medical problems.
So during one of our first interviews, we were asked how many children we would take.
Scott said 4.
I said no! 2 children…maybe 3 if push came to shove.
Then they asked us if we were open to special needs or medical problems.
Scott said yes.
I said no! We had to be realistic here about what we could handle.
Then they asked about the maximum age of the children we would be open to.
Scott said anything up to age 10.
I said no! More like age 5 or 6….definitely want to maintain the birth order here.
I won! We were approved for 2-3 children, between the ages of zero and 7(you have to go at least a year above your desired age in case things get held up in court and the child turns another year older during that time), healthy with no major medical problems.
Then we started getting ready for these coming children. This included setting up a new bedroom for them. Here are some pictures of that process.
And while we were preparing our home, God was using that time to prepare our hearts.
We were required to do several hours of online parenting classes. And we were required to read several books on adopting and parenting. One of the books that especially touched both of our hearts was There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene.
God used this book to open up our eyes to the HIV crisis in Ethiopia. During our interviews with our social worker, one of the questions they ask when you are adopting from Ethiopia is if you are willing to accept an HIV+ child. We said no. Then we read this book. And we started researching exactly what it means to be HIV+. We read articles and joined chat groups. We called our local HIV/AIDS clinic (YES….we do have one in Redding!) and asked our millions of questions. We realized that we, like most people we know, were completely misinformed on the issues regarding this disease. Did you know….
*HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease…not a death sentence!
*When controlled with medication, HIV is undetectable in blood tests. That is how little of the virus is present!
*There has NEVER been a case of HIV being transmitted by casual day-to-day contact which includes hugging, kissing, and sharing drinking cups.
*If you were to take a syringe of blood from an HIV+ person whose disease is controlled with antiviral medication, and inject that blood into another person, that person only has a 2 percent chance of contracting the virus.
*HIV+ people can get married and have children.
*In Ethiopia, over 1.5 million people are HIV+
*And in Ethiopia, due to lack of medical care, HIV is a death sentence!
After much prayer and research, and after listening to God’s prompting, we called our social worker and asked to be approved to adopt an HIV+ child. We were no longer scared about the medical complications, we felt prepared to handle that. But we were scared about the social stigma attached to this disease. So we didn’t tell anyone about this decision. Not even our parents. We figured that if and when we were matched with an HIV+ child, we would sit our family down and discuss the statistics we had learned. We would educate them on exactly what this would mean. But we were concerned about all the people out there who we couldn’t educate. People who would hear through the grapevine about our HIV+ child and then decide not to be on the same soccer team as them. Or ask to sit at a different lunch table. So we decided not to be an advocate for the spread of the truth about HIV/AIDS, but instead to protect our child’s story until they were old enough to decide for themselves what they wanted to share.
The reason I can talk about this with all of you is because in the end, we were not matched with an HIV+ child. All four of the children we are heading to Ethiopia to bring home are healthy!
So why did God lead us down this path? Maybe it was so that we could help to spread the truth! So we could talk about this disease and be an advocate for those children who need it, because it won’t affect our children’s story anymore. Please take a moment to watch this video regarding the truth about HIV/AIDS.
So in the end our home study looked like this….”approved for up to 4 children, ages zero to 10, including HIV+ and other medical needs.”
I guess Scott won after all.
Or actually, in the end, God won! And He won over our hearts in the ways that only He can.