It goes without saying on a blog like this that one of the ways we can make a difference when it comes to AIDS is through adoption.
But, in particular I want to highlight those children who are HIV positive and those adopting them.
My wife and I watched the video below the other week (it will open in a separate window) and have been burdened ever since. Watching this I could not help but thank God for these families and think of Christ’s call to His church to love the “least of these”. Truly, in our world, those living with AIDS have been relegated to the farthest margins of society (and adoption).
Twietmeyer called her husband at work one day and said she found the
children they were supposed to adopt, and one of them is HIV positive.
Kiel Twietmeyer didn’t really know how to respond. After about two
weeks of contemplation the couple decided they had to go to Ethiopia to
adopt the three siblings orphaned by AIDS. Before leaving to come home
to the U.S., Carolyn took her son to visit his friends at the
orphanage. It was during this visit that she met Selah, also orphaned
by AIDS and living with stage four AIDS. Today, as the newest
Twietmeyer child, Selah’s health has significantly improved with the
help of antiretroviral drugs, a dose of hope, and lots of love from a
The idea of
adopting a child with HIV isn’t rare. Margaret Fleming, founder of
Adoption Link and Chances By Choice, an adoption agency for HIV/AIDS
orphans, says there are many parents desiring to adopt a child with
HIV. Today with the advancement of antiretroviral medications the
lifespan of a child living with HIV has greatly increased. Mary Austin,
an RN and adoption advocate with the agency says the virus is often
times more manageable than diabetes. Margaret has adopted three
children with HIV and Mary has adopted one child with HIV.
United Nations reports there are 14 million AIDS orphans worldwide. 22
million people have died from AIDS with 74% of that population living
in sub-Saharan Africa.
Visit Project HOPEFUL: www.projecthopeful.org
Visit Adoption Link: www.adoption-link.org
Here is the fourth (and last) objection and response:
But $40,000 could save an entire village! Wouldn’t that be what Jesus would do, rather than take one child out of his family and culture?
If a child is in an orphanage his family is not willing or capable of taking care of him. He could remain where he is at and stay within his culture but we need to look at what the implications of that would be. The first thing I think of is the personal story of Solomon that I posted here. Solomon is an orphan in the Kolfe Boys orphanage in Ethiopia. Within the next year he will turn 18 and will be let out of the orphanage with $400. He will be alone with no one to care for him and no one to help him. His culture will provide barely any benefit to him outside those orphanage walls. In many countries orphans are seen as members of the lowest social class (along with beggars, prostitutes, the homeless, crippled, etc) and therefore face many hostilities the rest of their lives. A friend of mine said, by adopting these orphans, “We are not just helping one child. We are breaking a cycle of GENERATIONS of poverty, girls have no choice but prostitution, boys having to live a life of crime on the streets, having no chance at education and therefore an “out” to poverty, more orphans resulting from that poverty, and on and on.”
So we believe this is exactly what Jesus would have us to do – help an orphan not be an orphan anymore! What better thing can you offer a child? Further, that is exactly what God did for us; we were once orphans but through Christ we are adopted as God’s very own. In fact, God took us out of our culture of sin and death and brought us into a new culture of His kingdom of life. That is not to say, there is no need for the many other ways to care for orphans. For many the most loving thing right now is to provide them with the very things that will enable them to physically live and survive so that they can eventually be adopted. It comes back to what God has called us too. For some caring for orphans will not mean adoption but relief work, or AIDS prevention, or clean water efforts; the efforts that will change villages. One by one, following God’s call, we can make a difference that will change individual lives, villages, countries and nations to the glory of God.
Here is the third objection and response:
Every time a westerner pays a large fee it means one less child can be adopted by those in his own country because they cannot compete with US dollars?
This is simply not true. International adoption is often a child’s last chance of being adopted. Further, it is the government of the international country that overseas and regulates adoptions in their country. Most of these governments want to say that they are caring for their own so they do all they can to ensure that. This is why many countries close down and do not allow foreign adoption. But, some governments understand the reality of the orphan situation and while the last resort, for many orphans their only hope is international adoption.
The Ethiopian government, for example, has made the international adoption process simple, yet at the same time they keep a strict watch on orphanages that keep children for adoption. Hadush Halifom of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs; says they prohibit the orphanages from putting price tags on babies. “If they do this they are breaking the child rights convention. It is illegal to mention money where a baby is involved,” he says; The Ethiopian government has also put strict regulations on American agencies who are working in Ethiopia, requiring them to put a percentage of resources into caring for the older orphans that will never be adopted. Financially in many cases most of the cost of an adoption does not go to the birth country, but to the US agency for legal fees, and travel.
Here is the second objection and response:
A majority of children in orphanages worldwide are not really orphans but have family who visit and hope to take them home.
That is true, and that is why many children are not available for adoption. The ones who are available (through reputable agencies) have been through a last chance process to be adopted by family or others within their country. The reality is there is still a massive number of children who have lost both parents and no extended family members are willing to take care of them, and no one else in the country is willing to adopt them. This is the same thing we see right here in the United States Foster Care system. The solution to the problem of corruption in international adoption is not to make blanket statements and shut down adoption altogether. The solution starts with doing our homework, being educated about the process, and not letting those who have evil intentions stop us from doing what we can to care for these orphans.
After sharing the testimony of the Neill family the other day, one commenter responded with some objections that I have briefly responded to below:
Objection: Paying these large fees encourage corruption in adoption.
Corruption unfortunately does exist and we should do everything we can to see that those responsible for trafficking and extortion in the name of adoption are brought to justice. God is a God of mercy but also a God of justice and as His followers, made in His image, we should do all we can to love boldly enough to do what is necessary to stop these things from happening.
That said, the existence of corruption should not stop us from adopting altogether. In fact, while one can argue that large fees are the cause of corruption, it can also be argued that corruption has led to the increase in costs. That is why it is important for adoptive parents to be educated and to enter into the process asking the right questions. Ethica, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of ethical adoption, encourages adoptive parents to make a commitment to educate themselves on the adoption law of the state or country from which they are adopting. Further, it is important for adoptive parents to educate themselves on the agency in which they choose to ensure that their agency is committed to ethical adoption practices. One place to start is to makes sure the agency is a good standing member of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services.
The JCIS website also has a very helpful section on the General Steps in International Adoption that I recommend.
The US Government has also implemented the Hague Adoption Convention which seeks to ensure that adoptions take place in the best interests of children and to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children in connection with intercountry adoption. Anyone adopting internationally must read through the Hague site, especially:
Information for Parents
U.S. Accredited Adoption Service Providers
Adoption Service Providers Denied Hague Convention Accreditation/Approval
[Image used with permission by Studio Muntz]