Orphans with HIV often miss out on the opportunity of being adopted due to the ongoing misconceptions people still hold about the disease.
Carolyn Twietmeyer, an American mother of 13 – seven biological and six adopted (of whom two are HIV positive) – spoke about her experiences at an adoption conference in Australia in November.
Several years ago, Carolyn was looking to adopt a child with special needs. In the process she found 10 year old Selah in Ethiopia: HIV positive and extremely ill.
Although Carolyn shared the same blood type and was able to provide the blood transfusion that saved Selah’s life, she and her husband had to fight authorities to bring her back to the USA.
But they succeeded, and today, thanks to the treatment and care she’s received, Selah is a happy, healthy teenage girl.
As a result of her experiences, Carolyn created Project Hopeful and works fulltime to support other families to adopt kids who are HIV positive.
‘The truth is that HIV is a manageable disease’, Carolyn tells them.
‘It is not transferable at school, in the home, or in the playground and with the right opportunities and access to medication, these kids can lead a pretty normal life.’
Although the fear of HIV has subsided in many other countries around the world and this type of adoption is beginning to occur more often, Australia is still closed to the idea.
‘I know there are many families in Australia who would be willing to adopt an HIV positive child,’ she said.
‘Let’s hope they soon have the opportunity to do so.’