Erin and Noah, the newest addition to the Henderson clan
Erin Henderson, AAI's HIV+ and Special Needs Adoption Coordinator and mom to 12 kids (!), is about to run her first marathon. She's the first to admit that a year ago, she never would have believed it herself. Erin just made a vow to get fit and healthy and she took it from there and discovered that running was her favorite form of exercise. With her busy family, she's often out in the wee dawn hours in the hills of Wyoming around her house. A blog about "running moms" recently celebrated her achievements and we want to share the link here:
Erin's kids and husband cheering her on in a recent race
Erin shows the same exceptional drive and determination in her work to help HIV+ and special needs children finding loving families. Here's what she has to say about her work and her family:
I started working for Adoption Advocates International officially in January 2008 when I was hired to be the adoption coordinator for HIV+ children. It has been really exciting to watch the HIV+ adoption program grow as rapidly as it has. When we adopted our daughter, Belane, from AHOPE through AAI in 2006, she was one of the very first HIV+ children adopted from Ethiopia. At that time it was extremely rare for HIV+ children to be adopted and many people did not even know it was possible to adopt HIV+ kids internationally.
Four HIV+ kids were placed from Ethiopia through AAI in 2006. As education, awareness and advocacy grew, 13 HIV+ kids were placed through AAI in 2007, and an official program was created at the end of that year. 28 HIV+ children were placed in 2008, 30 were placed in 2009, and 32 children are already home in 2010. For the first time this year we have a waiting list of families wanting to adopt young, HIV+ children, which is a drastic change from earlier years, when otherwise healthy babies frequently waited for months and months to be matched with a family.
There are over 70 HIV+ children currently waiting for families through our program, with the majority of them being over the age of six years old.
In 2010, I also became the coordinator for special needs children in Ethiopia. AAI has approximately 20 children waiting with significant special needs waiting at AAI's Opportunity House or available through orphanages that have asked AAI to help find homes for their hardest to place children. These children range in age from infant to 12 years old and we are always looking for families open to children with long-term health needs. As the mother of a baby who has significant special needs and is from Ethiopia, I have a special place in my heart for these kids.
AAI's commitment to advocating for and finding families for the children who are the most difficult to place and yet are often the most in need of a family is one of the biggest reasons my husband and I chose them as our adoption agency in 2006, and is one of the biggest reasons I am honored to work for them and to advocate for these children.
I work from my home in Wyoming where I live with husband, Josh, and our 12 children. We have three biological sons and we have adopted our other nine children from Vietnam, South Korea, the United States and Ethiopia. You can learn more about my family on my blog where I write about my family, adoption, HIV awareness, advocacy, my running, etc., at http://fullhousehandshearts.typepad.com/
The whole family!
For more information about the HIV+ adoption program or waiting children with special needs in Ethiopia, you can email me at Erin@adoptionadvocates.org