Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Update from Erin, our HIV+ coordinator

(some of the beautiful AHOPE children, now in the U.S. w/adoptive families, meeting up at a special event for HIV+ kids)

One of the things that AAI is most proud of is our record of HIV+ adoptions and I recently asked Erin Henderson, our HIV+ coordinator, to provide an update for this program. She works tirelessly to place HIV+ children with loving families and her own personal blog is one of the best public education sources out there. Thanks to Erin and the many AAI parents who have become advocates for HIV+ adoption and resources for interested parents, we have come a long way in the last couple of years.

Susan Poisson-Dollar
AAI Director of Development
from Erin:

I have been working as the adoption coordinator for Adoption Advocates International now for 18 months. It has been very exciting to see the steady growth of interest in adopting HIV+ children, and the slow but steady increase in the number of HIV+ children we are being able to place with families.

To give you an idea of how the program has grown--in 2005, AAI placed just two HIV+ children for adoption from Ethiopia. In 2006, four HIV+ children joined new families. In 2007, 13 HIV+ children were placed for adoption from Ethiopia through AAI, and in 2008 there were 28. In 2009 we already have 10 HIV+ kids home from Ethiopia, and another 27 children in process. We are placing HIV+ children from AHOPE Ethiopia and from Kidane Mihret, both of which are orphanages in Addis Ababa.

For the first time this year we have had paper ready families waiting for a referral of a young, HIV+ child. We are now being able to match HIV+ infants and very young toddlers almost as soon as they are ready to be referred. We do still have plenty of HIV+ children waiting to be adopted. At this time I have 69 HIV+ children in Ethiopia that are available for adoption, with the youngest being two and a half years old, and the oldest being 14 years old. Those numbers include quite a few sibling groups, some of which have two HIV+ children and others which have one HIV+ child and then one or two HIV negative siblings.

We have experienced our fair share of delays in the adoption process this year, but the Ethiopia adoption program continues to be fairly smooth and the program in which we are placing the most HIV+ children. AAI has its first adoption of an HIV+ child from Ghana in progress right now, with several more soon to follow we hope. We are also really excited to have our first HIV+ adoptions from Thailand at the very beginning of the process. It will be wonderful to get these first HIV+ children home from Ghana and Thailand and into their new families. ☺

As the news continues to spread that HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable condition when treatment is available; that HIV is not transmitted by any form of casual contact; and that HIV+ children are available for adoption, I am very hopeful that we will continue to see increasing numbers of HIV+ children being placed for adoption by AAI.

Here are three things that I wish everyone knew about HIV:

  1. HIV CANNOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or in any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).
  2. HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.
  3. People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. More info on transmission can be found on the Center for Disease Control website at

If you would like to learn more about adopting and parenting an HIV+ child, please contact me at mhtml:%7BD6238322-7635-424E-9246-579FBF8E577C%7Dmid://00000888/!

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