For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, you know that my heart has been stolen by so many of the orphans here in Ukraine. I particularly have found myself drawn to those who are HIV+ or have some other challenge that might hinder their chances of either adoption or making it in Ukraine after leaving the orphanage.
I am absolutely thrilled, delighted beyond words, that the U.S. is allowing the adoption of these children to the States. And that so many families are willing to go through the emotional wringer to come here and add these children to their families. And many Ukrainian families are stepping up and taking care of their own. Praise God!
Jim continues to offer conferences and workshops to help families, caregivers, and medical professionals learn better methods of working with special-needs children. He often partners with other groups who have a passion for a specific diagnosis — i.e. Downs syndrome or cerebral palsy. Physicians here recommend that these children be placed in institutions from birth. Thankfully, some physicians and many parents are not willing to give their children away. Not anymore.
We pray that all involved might see the value of each God-given life.
But I also have a burden for those children who are not in orphanages, but who are forced to live lives ‘in secret.’ Those children who are HIV+ and cannot tell anyone. Why? Because the stigma associated with this ghastly disease is so strong. We all have done such a great job at teaching folks that AIDS is a forever-diagnosis and a disease to stay away from that we have inadvertently scared people of not just the disease, but of the people with the disease.
Many of these children are living in single-parent homes. Some with a grandparent. Or an aunt. Or an uncle. Most have lost their parents to AIDS. Some of these children are living in hospitals. But ALL of these children need hope. True hope. That only Christ can offer.
Please join me in prayer as I look for guidance in my next steps. Already I have been working with children at a community center — children who have been affected by or infected with HIV. Our ministry is totally committed to the care of hospitalized orphans suspected of being HIV+. And I have just been afforded the opportunity to work directly with children living with and dying of this disease…at the National Children’s Hospital here in Kyiv.
My heart is broken.
And that’s a good thing.
(You should see the smiles on the little faces there.)