The Stigmas Need To Go - HIV+ Adoption

My name is Joy and I'm the single adoptive parent of a little girl who was born HIV+ due to the fact that her birth mother refused to take medication nor seek prenatal care.
 
My daughter was taken by C section at 36 weeks to avoid transmission which sadly failed. The birth mother, who was a drug user, did not opt for the plan of action set by social services so she simply left the state and abandoned this precious little one. Baby girl waited 3 weeks in the hospital for a family that would take a child with HIV. A wonderful couple in the upstate of SC opened their hearts and homes, giving this child a great start and a chance at love. 
 
I first saw Lorinda available for adoption while browsing a national photo listing. She was in the same state as me and such a cute little 6 month old baby. I called to inquire about her and was told by my social worker "oh you don't want her, she has full blown AIDS". Not knowing much about HIV I let it go and moved on with my search for just the right child for my family. Many were presented to me but none seemed a good fit. Ten months later I was called by my new adoption worker and asked if I would be interested in a baby who was HIV+. I asked if this was the same child, then replied that yes, I would consider her. A few days later I was selected to be her mommy. It was not only a time of  great excitement but a time of struggle as well. My family, not being educated, was highly resistant to the idea of an HIV+ child. Fear and stigma ran rampant and their refusal to become informed about transmission was a barrier in our communication.
 
I was told by a family member if I went through with the adoption I was no longer welcome in their home. Having grown up as a very close and active family, this was devastating news for me. However I knew that God's plans were higher than what I could presently see and feel and while at their concert, He used the Casting Crowns song "Love Her Like Jesus" as a final affirmation.  I proceeded with the adoption. This child was meant to be mine and I knew through the struggles we would be blessed abundantly. I will not say it was an easy road, but eventually my family came together and my daughter was accepted. She had the AIDS status and was often sick. However, over time her immune system developed and she was able to start fighting off every infection that came her way. I attribute this to the Grace of God, good medication and lots of fresh air and loving. To this day she still remains very healthy while others get sick from colds and flu.
My little baby is now 7 1/2 years old and she and I have made it our mission to spread awareness about HIV and adoption. Many parents choose not to tell their child nor disclose to others the HIV status and that is ok, but we want to educate the world and let people know the stigma's need to go!
HIV is now seen as a chronic, manageable disease, very much like diabetes is. With the help of Antiretroviral medications Lorinda's AIDS status is now under control and classified by her doctors as HIV. This means that while we know the virus is there, there is less than a 5% risk of transmission if her blood got into anyone else's  wound. I believe that the more people are educated, the more they will be open to adopting a positive child. 
HIV is not spread by saliva, mucus, tears, urine, poop etc.  You cannot catch HIV by breathing the same air as a positive person, nor by touching a toilet seat, doorknob, water fountain, hugging, kissing or sharing utensils. HIV cannot be spread by physical contact unless you have an open wound that comes in contact with semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk or blood of an infected person whose virus is not suppressed.  HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS. A person is said to have AIDS when their CD4 (white blood cell count) drops below 200 or when they have certain infections. A person can have HIV for years and having HIV does not mean you have AIDS.
So how does our life with Lorinda look? We are a humorous, fun loving family that is full of action and adventure. She is a normal, happy, outgoing little girl, who except for having to take medication twice daily is much like any other child. She has a little brother and TONS of friends. Lorinda excels at gymnastics and art. She loves Flamingos and life in general. She is full of spunk and sass. I've been told that she will grow up healthy and can marry a non affected man and have HIV negative babies. What a blessing and what a dream for her when she someday stops thinking boys are "yucky".
She would love to share her Facebook page for Pediatric HIV/AIDS Awareness in which she often appears to update how she's doing and what adventure she's presently involved in. Come follow us at https://www.facebook.com/PediatricHivAidsAwareness .
~Joy Cameron
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