Well, I have commented all over the internet today from facebook to blogs to twitter, so I thought I might as well record my thoughts on my blog.
A couple of days ago I received two links from friends in the States who had heard that Sir Elton John was interested in adopting an HIV+ young boy from Ukraine. Knowing my involvement with these orphans over the years, my friends wanted to know if I had heard the news.
I read the article and my immediate response was that he was too old by Ukrainian law (and wasn’t sure birth dates exactly of little Lev and Elton’s partner). Also same sex marriages are not recognized in Ukraine. In interviews Mr. John himself has stated that he has not wanted to adopt a child because of his crazy lifestyle of travel and performance. He felt it would be difficult on a child. That surely makes sense to me.
BUT, he said, after the death of one of his band members, he now felt like he could replace that loss with the addition of a child. What kind of motivation is that? Is that looking out for the best interest of the child? Or is that simply wanting to buy a life to fill a hole?
I am so encouraged that America has FINALLY allowed HIV+ adoptions. We already know of several children who have been adopted and we also know of several couples who want to make the trip. Ukraine has not been holding these children back from adoptions…it’s simply OTHER countries and couples who say no when they receive the status report of HIV+.
The cost for couples is high, but maybe not so much higher than adoptions in other countries. Flights are not cheap, and depending on the town where the orphanage is situated, living expenses can be high during the actual process of court.
I totally believe that the orphanage system in Ukraine is not designed with the best interest of the children in mind. Though once thought to be a solution to unwanted children, studies prove that these children need to be in homes. And, in fact, there is a drive right now to reduce the numbers of children living in orphanages. (Part of the push is so that Ukraine will be meeting EU standards.) Several organizations are working together to find a place for every single child whether the orphan is HIV+ or not.
We are directly involved in the lives of many of these children and their caretakers. Many caretakers truly love these children. But, sad to say, as it is anywhere in the world, many see it as a job and are frankly frightened by the children. The stigma attached to the HIV+ status is at a high level here…and elsewhere around the world. Including the States. And Great Britain.
The world has done such an excellent job of trying to prevent the spread of this virus that we’ve now created a situation where people are afraid to be around those infected. The next challenge is to educate those around us WITHOUT the virus regarding the truth of this disease. And how it’s spread. And how it’s NOT spread. Children diagnosed today and treated (the children I know are all receiving treatment) have the chance to live well into adulthood. Whether they remain in Ukraine or whether they’re adopted to another country, they will face challenges. And discrimination.
I wonder whether those with lots of cash would be willing to donate some to couples who would like to adopt these children but are strapped financially. Or whether they’d like to help get the word out in an organized way about the truth of HIV+/AIDS to help reduce the stigma associated with it. Or come alongside numerous groups who are reaching out to families touched by this virus. Or help fund Zechariah’s House, one potential solution for a group of HIV+ orphans, giving them the chance to grow up in a family environment rather than an orphanage.
(By the way, my husband and I are younger than Sir Elton John, but too old to legally adopt. We tried.)
Praying for homes for these children.