Yesterday in COSTCO I was shopping with my mom and Grace and I was THRILLED to find the most recent copy of PEOPLE magazine that featured Carolyn and Kiel Twietmayer (if you look at posts during my time in Ethiopia you will see what a lifesaver Carolyn was to ME!) and their family. I was showing my mom the pictures, sharing the bits and pieces I know about them and my mom asked why they were in the magazine.
I told her they were featured in the magazine to draw attention to HIV adoptions.
If you know me, you know that I'm not the lady who lowers her voice to avoid the topics that are less than sunshine and roses...A passerby heard my comment and said, "That's just disgusting."
Here's the kicker...
I agree with her 100%...
It IS disgusting that we are sitting back and letting these children die.
It IS disgusting that we have access to amazing medications that allow our children with HIV to live absolutely normal lives - and we refuse to share that wealth with the people who need it most.
It IS disgusting that here in the US, it's 2010, but with regard to our knowledge and understanding of HIV/AIDS - we're stuck in the 80's.
It IS disgusting that our children are afraid to be real, afraid to tell the truth, afraid to show themselves - because so many of them remember the stigma attached to having HIV in Africa...
She was right, sadly, for all the wrong reasons. It is SO disgusting the things we allow to happen to the vulnerable and helpless.
We didn't set out to adopt a child with HIV but I do believe she was brought into our lives because there is something we are all supposed to do together (maybe it has something to do with my big mouth and tendancy to not back down from a challenge?).
We've been a family for 15 months and during that time the easiest of all of our *issues* has been HIV. Other than taking medicine in the morning and at night we forget that it is a part of our lives. It is a NON-issue.
Maybe adopting an HIV+ child isn't something you are ready to do (I do believe each and every one of you are more than capable however.) but there are SO many other things YOU can do to help. Easy things if that's what you have time for. If money is something you are blessed with there are several organizations that will use that gift in the most beneficial ways to help orphans and families dealing with HIV.
See what Project Hopeful is doing and figure out how you can help. The have some AMAZING programs. One of my favorites is the FIG program. FIG stands for Family in the Gap - this program requires very little of you but the reward is BIGGER than you can even wrap your brain around. Thirty dollars a month (ok - I just spent $30 taking the girls out for a treat) can SAVE the life of a child. Thirty dollars a month will change their world. Another PH program I love is Hope+ Sisterhood. As a woman, and a mother this program resonates within me. I can't imagine having to give up my girls because I wasn't able to care for them because of a (very) treatable disease. I think none of us here in the US could imagine that.
If you're looking to buy Christmas gifts my two favorites are
Because Every Mother Matters has the most amazing headbands (my girls will be sporting them come Christmas morning). The headband for World AIDS Day is an awesome red color - but you can order them in a ton of different colors. Check them out!
The other gift source I adore is Funky Fish Jewelry Designs. Dawn has made some jewelry to raise money for Project Hopeful and her designs are beautiful.
So, my friends, for me it boils down to this... This is not the life I chose. I would have run away screaming if I had my way. Thank goodness I listened to that tiny whisper I had been hearing for a while. Thank goodness I'm not afraid to stand up and say what is true. Thank goodness I was chosen for this job.
If you don't remember, 16 months ago my daughter was a 42 pound and dying from AIDS.
Today she is a 72 pound fire-cracker who is LIVING with undetectable HIV virus, she is playing soccer, going to school, learning the piano, driving me crazy - absolutely, 100% normal 9-year-old girl stuff.
So today, on World AIDS Day, do whatever you can to help those living with HIV - if you can't do anything than at least educate yourself on the facts.