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Talking With Family

4 Oct

It has been a little over a year since we decided to pursue the adoption of our HIV daughter.  We researched everything and had pretty much decided to adopt our daughter.  The last hurdle we had to face was telling our family.  I remember how scared we felt about telling them.  We were really getting attached to the little face we kept looking at, but we felt like we would not be able to move forward without the support of our family.

Every family is so different but this is how we decided to have “the talk” with our family.  We had our “talks” on the phone because everyone lives about an hour or more away.  We decided it would be easier for us to talk with everyone on the phone instead of driving all over the place.  I did not want anyone to say things that they would later regret.   So I asked family members to please listen and  not to say anything until I was finished talking.  So we told them about what we were considering, a HIV adoption.  We talked through all the concerns we knew they would have and told them about all that we have learned about HIV.

We were so blessed to have the support of our family to move forward with our adoption.  I think some were surprised, but everyone supported us especially when we share our precious pictures.  I think my favorite reaction was from one of my sisters who said she knew how long it took for us to buy a new couch so she knew we came to this decision with much prayer and consideration and we could expect nothing but support from her.

A year later everyone loves our daughter without reservations.  I am sure all would say she belongs in our family.

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HIV Disclosure Article

24 Aug

This article was posted on HIV Adopt Yahoo Group.  It is very interesting and informative.  It was helpful to me as I continue to sort through our own disclosure issues. 

Here is one of its key points –
“Disclosure of HIV status is not a one-time event, but rather a process, involving ongoing discussions about the disease as the child matures cognitively, emotionally, and sexually.”

HIV Clinical Resource:Disclosure of HIV to Perinatally Infected Children and Adolescents

It also had these great links about online resources about disclosure

Resources for caregivers

Resources for both caregivers and adolescents  

Resources for Kids

Training for providers (Powerpoint Slides about article)

Privacy vs. Secrecy

14 Aug

For now we have chosen to be private about our daughter’s HIV.  We feel like if we only tell close family and medical personnel that in the future she has the choice about whether she wants to be more open about her HIV.  But if we are really open about it now we will take the privacy option away from her.

But on the other side of things…if we don’t share more with others… our family does seem like it has a secret.  If we make our daughter hide this, it will seem like HIV is something shameful.  I of course don’t want our daughter to think that.  I want her to learn to accept her HIV.

Privacy will also affect our other children.  It will give them a burden or something that they have to hide about their sister.  At times our 6-year-old already asks questions about all of the doctor’s visit and lab work.  We don’t feel like she is ready to understand about her sister’s HIV.  We think our daughter would worry about her younger sister.  We don’t plan to lie to our other children about her condition, but for now we say things like the doctor are just doing what they think she need to be strong and healthy.

Sometimes I think…
If we are private are we protecting our family or harming  our family???

Disclosure is for me the hardest part about HIV.  For now, we feel like we are supposed to be private, but there are days I wish people knew so that we did not have this “thing” we keep private.  I wish I could help break down some of the misunderstanding about HIV and help educate people.  But reality is that we live in an area that is very ignorant about HIV.  So there are reasons to remain fairly private.  However, we feel like in the future more people in our circle of friends and family will have to know for our daughter and other children’s sake.  But for now our little one is 2 and it doesn’t seems like everyone needs to know.

I think the worst thing about privacy is fearing the unknowns if ever it got around in our small community or church.  What would happen?  How would people respond?  I want to believe that everyone would be fine with it, but I am sure that would not be the case with everyone. 

I hope to blog more about disclosure in the coming weeks. 
I think I have some more thinking to do.  

On a side note…Please pray for one of our bloggers, Jen.  She is in Ethiopia and is having to stay much longer than she had anticipated.  I know she would appreciate prayer that her paperwork gets worked out and that she can bring her son home soon.  She has to be so ready to get home to her husband and other children.  Please join me in praying for her peace and strength for the remainder of her journey.