Adoptive parents get answers in HIV toolkit

Baptist Press
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Posted: Feb 07, 2011 5:15 PM
Adoptive parents get answers in HIV toolkit
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Prospective parents who are considering adopting from among the more than 1 million orphans worldwide who are living with HIV/AIDS now can utilize an HIV Adoption Toolkit as an information guide.

Bethany Christian Services assembled a team of medical and social professionals as well as parents of children with HIV/AIDS to develop the toolkit, which was launched in February and is available at Bethany.org/hivtoolkit. Prospective parents often struggle to find crucial information related to adopting a child with HIV/AIDS.

"The decision to become a forever family for any child should not be made lightly, but when thinking about adopting a child living with HIV/AIDS, there is so much more to consider," Sara Ruiter of Bethany Christian Services said. "Couples need to understand the medical requirements and emotional challenges that the child will face, as well as the impact this decision will have on the entire family."

Bethany Christian Services noticed an increase in adoption inquiries regarding children with HIV, and the toolkit is intended to address those matters.

The complete HIV Adoption Toolkit costs $75 but is free to Bethany families, with each tool presenting "a hopeful yet realistic look at some of the challenges families may face." The kit includes an overview webinar, a medical webinar and a psychosocial webinar as well as a PDF collection.

The 55-minute overview webinar provides a broad perspective on the HIV pandemic, how it has affected children and families, the response by Bethany Christian Services, and what factors and issues families should consider before they adopt a child living with HIV.

The 45-minute medical webinar focuses on the varied medical issues and challenges families should know about when considering this kind of adoption. Topics include medications, adherence, universal precautions and the monitoring of viral loads and T-cell counts.

The 60-minute psychosocial webinar focuses on psychosocial issues families should consider as well as personal stories of teenagers living with HIV. Topics include disclosure, stigma, identity development, adolescence and sexual health education.

The PDF collection includes:

-- HIV, Adoption, and You E-Book: This study will guide a family in discussing issues related to adopting a child with HIV, including disclosure, stigma, medical adherence, support network and resources, adolescence and insurance coverage. Each chapter includes discussion questions and recommended online resources.

-- FAQs about HIV: This guide written by adoptive families for adoptive families uses nontechnical language to assist couples. It also answers common questions related to HIV/AIDS.

-- Sample Disclosure Letter: A sample letter is available for editing and revision to suit a family's needs. It is an example of how some families who are parenting a child with HIV have decided to communicate with their family and friends.

-- Questions for your Health Care Team: This document is a tool for use when asking doctors questions associated with a potential adoption.

Rather than purchasing the entire kit, prospective parents may opt to purchase just the individual webinars for $20 each or the PDF collection for $20 total.

"When we decided to adopt an HIV positive child, we didn't know much about the disease or what would be required of us," Annette Franklin, an adoptive parent, told Bethany Christian Services.

"We've learned that we don't have to be afraid, that HIV is a manageable disease. Our daughter is responding beautifully to antiretroviral medication and is healthy and strong. She brings joy to our entire family every day. We are so glad that we didn't let the stigma of HIV scare us away from this amazing little girl," Franklin said.

The HIV Adoption Toolkit is available at bethany.org/hivtoolkit.

Erin Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net