Here is the rest of the story.... the rest of our "Leap of Faith" and journey to our second son.
We were moving along quite content with our second adoption. We have Tedi, our first adopted son from Ethiopia, and were both very busy in our jobs. Our agency, Lifeline Adoptions who places children from Ethiopia through West Sands Adoptions, was telling us 7-9 months wait for a healthy boy aged 0-5...well really about six month for our more specific 3-5 year old boy. This was fine with us. Our dossier landed in Ethiopia on February 6, 2011 and we started our official wait.
But then, on Sunday, February 26, our minister, Ben, at church spoke on who we follow.... he said "Does the way you are living life require God to show up?" "We dream little and only dream what we can do alone." He said, "We must say, 'God this won't happen without you showing up.' " We sang Hosanna which says "break my heart for what breaks yours." We have heard those lyrics before. We were challenged by Ben's words but nothing changed that Sunday or that Monday...we both went back to work and back to life.
Then on Tuesday, February 28th, we had picked Tedi up from his best buddy Sam's house and had just eaten at a local Mediterranean restaurant (Tedi loves all ethnic food). On our drive home, I was reading JT facebook statuses out loud.... it is a habit of ours, both for laughs, interesting stuff, and on this night life changing stuff.... West Sands Adoption posted on their facebook:
"Any families who are interested in adopting an HIV+ child between 4-6 years old (both genders) please contact West Sands Adoptions. We have several children in this age range waiting for their forever family. If you are interested in learning more about adopting an HIV+ child, check out this link or contact our office for more information."
JT just looked at me. I remember we were pulling into the second space in our lot. He knew I had always been okay with HIV+ adoption but he always said once I was out of training and was more available for appointments. He told me to let him pray about it overnight.... I did not. I was on facebook that night messaging with Sheila. She informed me there was a waiting list full of HIV+ kids and all it required was an amendment to our US approval (which is free). She asked if she should let our local rep, Lesley, know we were considering this. I told her no.....that we are good friends with Lesley and JT would call her. He called her five minutes later. She said she would pray for us and slipped in that there were also 2 sisters that needed a home if interested. She knew I want a girl eventually. JT immediately said no.... He then remembered Ben's words. After 24 hours of gut wrenching, knee-dropping prayer, we said "okay, Lesley (and God), if the girls are paperwork ready. We will be their parents. If not, we will be the parents of the first paperwork ready HIV+ boy." We did not know what God would do. We waited.... 60 excruciating hours. Then, Friday morning March 3, Lesley called. The girls were not ready but there was a boy waiting for a family. Of course, we were excited. We felt so convicted waiting for a "healthy" child when "our" child was waiting for us.
This boy, (we will call C.W. for online purposes...though he won't go by this), is 4 1/2 years old. Yes, as the title implies, he is HIV+. You read correctly. Our second son is infected with a Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Now that we had accepted his referral less than one month from being added to the wait list, we knew there would be explaining to do. We shared the details with our close friends and our family. All were so supportive. Tedi has changed so many hearts in our world that it did not surprise me that C.W. and the knowledge of his HIV were welcomed without question.
However, despite our lack of reserve in sharing with our friends and family, we have carefully discussed and prayed about disclosing C.W.'s HIV status on our blog, on facebook, with his future school, and speaking on this topic in general. We spoke to families who both share their child's status and those that do not. After all this, and after seeing reactions of some ancillary people around us (even educated people), we realized that nothing was going to change if we did not speak up. If we speak up and educate those around us, and then they do the same, maybe just maybe, the stigma and knowledge associated with HIV may be changed for our son and those with whom our influence reaches. No, we won't go to the park and say "Hey my name is Natalie and my son is HIV+." But we will speak up, have a voice, defend the hearts of the those who have no one to do so. We realize we may lose friends....were they really friends? Probably not? There will be some people who may not let our kids play with their kids despite education. That is fine. Did we want them there anyways? Hmmmm... probably not. There will be days when we must digest hurtful things said to and about our son and family... There will be tough talks in the teen years about sex and relationships. That will not be easy regardless of the health concerns. However, despite the difficult days and difficult circumstances, blessings are always weaved throughout the circumstance.... Change will happen...
As always, we are always transparent and share our hearts. Feel free to email us with questions. However, please remember that these are our children and they have their own personal stories that led them to be in our family. We will always protect their hearts above anyone else's questions.
Thank you for reading our story and joining with us. See below for the biggest way you can help us right now.... with our $2500 challenge!