Saturday, July 18, 2009

Being "out"

It feels good to have finally said out loud on the blog that Kendi is HIV+. Thank you all for the positive comments you left on that post. When we first decided to adopt Kendi we assumed we would be very open about her status with everybody. But after that first negative reaction (which came from our families) it slaps you in the face like a bowl full of cold water. It takes the wind out of your sails. And reality hits. Managing HIV will be very simple compared to managing people's reaction to Kendi having HIV.

It's hard for some people to recognize that her status is private and that nobody has a RIGHT to know whether she's negative or positive. We've had a family member tell us that if we didn't tell all of the siblings/cousins that THEY would tell the rest of the family. It's hard feeling like someone is taking information they were privileged to get in the first place, and not respecting that it is only ours and Kendi's information to share.

And there is Ryder--my cousin's baby that I watch during the day. When we first agreed to watch Ryder we weren't even thinking of adoption. We did feel like it was best to be open with Kendi's status to Ryder's parents. But the "price" for that openness is that now they may not continue to bring Ryder to us after Kendi gets home. It hurts. Bad. But I guess our skin will get thicker over time.

Our last hurdle was tell tell our pastor at church. [Not because we HAD to, but because we wanted to, as our church is so small no universal precautions are taken in the nursery.] Our pastor was very supportive, but through that a handful more people in the church were notified. I just figure...if a handful of people already know, we might as well become very open about it.

We're not in the least ashamed of Kendi's HIV status. Our struggle was whether or not it was our information to share, or whether it was hers to share when she gets old enough to understand the good and the bad that comes with disclosing status. But by waiting until she is older, we are creating an environment where there is a "secret" in our home, which we don't want to do either.

My blog is the one place where people from all areas of my life come together and read about what's going on (family, church, adoption, high school/college friends, etc.). If you read regularly and are in the adoption community, you already knew she was positive just by the wording I used. So to the majority of you it was no major surprise anyway.

The hardest thing about not being open from the beginning was that I was suppressing the desire I have to advocate for HIV+ people, and in particular, HIV+ orphaned children. There's so much more I want to say in the coming months. So many blog posts I've written in my head but never shared. I want people to know the good and the bad of it. I want people to find courage and put away our 1990 attitude about HIV/AIDS. I want people to see my daughter as a beautiful perfectly-made daughter of God FIRST. I want her HIV to be an after thought. I believe that some day, as we grow and learn together, it will.



Cora 1:56 PM  

I really wish that people understood HIV better. It has become an invisible disease and sometimes I wonder if society will ever learn from the past.
I wish you strength in "being out" it can not be easy.

Take Care,

whenpigsfly 3:12 PM  

That was a wonderful post Anita, on so many levels. People are amazing creatures aren't they? When we prepared to bring Naomi home, I was prepared for some "flack" but not for several families to actually leave the church rather than share space with a 5 month old baby with Hep B. Having dealt with the doctor visits, meds, assessments and lab tests now for over 6 years, its all just part of life and we share her staus as need-be. We were so open to adopting child/ren with HIV /AIDS diagnosis when we knew we were going to adopt again, I was kind of surprised that God didn't lead us that way. Guessing He knew Daniel and his issues were plenty enough for us!
I'm sorry that members of your family have taken the stance they have, esp. Ryder's family. Universal precautions are no big deal, they make sense for everyone, just in terms of common cold viruses etc.........and I personally think that some people will be wasting a really great relationship with a precious baby AND her E, A, T,S, and B Gillispie family!!!!!
Love you Anita!!

Jo White McIver 3:53 PM  

I usually just follow your blog and don’t post but when I read this entry my heart went out to you. I’m so sorry that some of your family members do not understand yet. I also know how it feels to have family members not support you in your choice to build a family and how hurtful it can be. I will be praying that over time God will open their eyes to what a precious, beautifully made little miracle sweet Kendi is.


Michelle 8:00 PM  

It is so ironic that you are officially outing your HIV+ adoption because it is because of your blog that we are starting the process to adopt an HIV+ little girl from Ghana. You are a very inspiring woman...I used you as an example recently in a bible study small group about taking risks and seizing the opportunites that God presents.

Amy 11:24 PM  

Sending you huge hugs Anita. Having family not understand must be very painful. Hopefully time, prayer and education will weave their way into their hearts and help them see the truth. Love you and I can't wait to hear all of your future posts about important issues and your beautiful daughter finally coming home to you!


Beckie Sibley 1:13 AM  

If Ryder's parents pull him from your care because of Kendi's status, I believe they will regret their decision terribly as time, and their experiences with other daycare providers, move on.

I hope they will do the research on HIV as well as the difficulty in finding quality childcare. The chances of catching HIV from Kendi in your home are slim to none as is finding better care for their son.

Blessings to you and your family~~

Ericka 6:42 AM  

Amen Anita.
I think it truly is an educational process. many, many, many (probably most) live in the 1990's era when it comes to HIV. We just have to get the word out.
We'll get there, but in the meantime, you have our support and love :)

Calico Sky 6:44 AM  

I'm new to your blog and have spent the last day reading it from beginning to end - I'm the one in England ;0)

I feel like the Lord brought me to your blog because I was feeling like I was surrounded by Christians who simply didn't care about orphans, who didn't see orphan care as a vital part of living their faith, so encouraging to find you.

I work in child health (particular focus children fostered and adopted) and am still floored by people's responses to adopting children with HIV. Over here we had 1 person who wanted to do it and not 1 person within the groups supported her, it was horrific. I'm moving back home soon and will get my own adoption started again (I fostered and well long story short, this will be my third attempt to adopt) and am open to adopting a child with HIV. HOwever, I'm already amazed that friends who are social workers in adoption have already "warned" me to only adopt a child with HIV once I feel I'm on my last adoption or will then only adopt children with HIV. They said the prejudice against placing children in a home with an HIV + child is still huge. It just saddens me greatly that people are so biased and so scared.
Re your family etc, what I don't think people realize is that they are likely possibly already interracting with someone with HIV, that it is not like you would know. I'll be praying for your family to understand HIV, to understand the way you have embraced the Lord's teachings and to find peace.

Heather A. 4:05 PM  

I am just so saddened that R's parents may choose to go elsewhere. How incredibly hurtful. Kendi is beautiful and you're blessed to have her in the family, whatever her HIV status may be.

Praying for their hearts undergo a change and that you're filled with strength to deal with those that don't share your joy.