So, back to the idea that the calling to adopt a child with HIV was something God put in our hearts. Back in the fall God led me to the following passage: The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love- Galatians 5:6. I began to ask the Lord how he would have me love others through faith in Him. Of course, there are numerous ways we can do this each day, and these ways are no less important. I just felt that God was leading me to love through faith in a specific way- in a way that stretched my faith and put me way out of my comfort zone. In a way that, to be honest, I really didn't want to visit or think about. I questioned this for some time before sharing my feelings with Zack. I kept reading Galatians 5:6 over and over and then I thought about James 1:27 over and over, and I realized, God is calling us to care for orphans with a love that we can only give to others through faith in Him. So, I told Zack that I felt that God was calling us to adopt a child who may not be healthy, who may need care for the rest of their life. I told him I felt God was calling us to adopt a child with HIV. The cool part is, I have a husband who doesn't put God in a box, so he didn't freak out, he just wanted a little bit of time to think and pray about it. After a few days, he too felt this was something God would have us to do. Not because of who we are, but all because of who God is.
So, we are adopting a child with HIV. We are doing this by drawing all of our strength from the Lord, by putting all our dependence on Him, and by praying, a lot! I admit, it is a scary thing at times, and the devil would like nothing more than to cause us to doubt that we serve a God big enough to do this- so we resist the fiery darts of fear that he throws at us with our shield of faith- praise God! There is no fear in God's love! We remind ourselves of this on a daily basis.
And here is more exciting news- science and medicine have made great advances in the treatment of HIV, very great! For example, did you know that with the proper treatment, the HIV viral load can become undetectable in blood tests?! This doesn't mean that the HIV is gone, but it does mean that it can be managed to the point that those infected can live a very normal life. Another fact- Children with HIV are perfectly safe to be around, hug, kiss, and share food and bathrooms with. For this reason, generally people with HIV are not required by law to tell anyone about their condition- even school and dentists. Here is another great fact- With treatment, children with HIV are now expected to have basically the same lifespan as "normal" children ! Praise God! There are so many other things about HIV I would love to share now, but I will save it for subsequent posts :)
I am going to be adding new links to the right side of the blog that deal specifically with HIV. Today I have added a link to a wonderful site called Positively Adopted. Check it out- it is full of great resources, family stories, etc.
One final note- For us, the hardest part of the decision to adopt a child with HIV has been how to deal with disclosing the HIV status. Unfortunately, as well all know, people infected with HIV face many social stigmas. Of course we don't want our child to be victim to these stigmas, but we also don't want her to feel shame or guild over the fact that she has HIV and wonder why mommy and daddy don't want anyone to know. We don't want her to feel as though she has to live behind the shadow of HIV. So, we have decided on a moderate view of disclosure, I guess you could say. We by no means will be shouting from the rooftop that our child has HIV every time we walk into a room. On the other hand, we do not plan to purposely hide it from our family and friends and those who truly care for our family. I consider those who read this blog to care about adoption, so I therefore assume they care about children, all children, which is why I feel free to share this information here.
Well, there you have it! We hope to have our home study finished by late February or early March. Approval from USCIS is taking around 90 days now, so the earliest we would hope to send our dossier to Ethiopia would be June, most likely. We are unsure of how long it will take to receive a referral, but most likely we will at least know of our daughter this year, and who knows, she may even be home with us in 2010 :)
We ask for your prayers, even at this early stage. Because of the age range we have requested, we know that our daughter is somewhere in Ethiopia at this very moment, waiting for us! Boy won't she be happy when she sees what a cute brother she has :)