We are the Levy family. We have six children- four through adoption and two through birth. We had been foster and adoptive parents for 6 years, when we were asked if we would consider adopting a little girl who was HIV positive. We had known many other families who were parenting children who were HIV positive through our foster and adoptive community, but when the issue became “real” for us, fear set in a bit. We made an appointment with a wonderful pediatric infectious disease specialist in our city.
She answered all of our questions and explained to us that HIV was a very manageable condition and that there would be no danger in bringing a child who was HIV positive into our home. There would be no scenario in normal family living in which a child could pass the virus to another family member. She clearly explained to us that HIV is spread only through sex, from mother-to-child, and through sharing unclean needles. We all cried in her office that day and ended our meeting hugging each other.
- We moved forward to adopt our daughter and we couldn't imagine a single day without her.
Many families who have adopted children who are HIV positive will say that HIV is a very easy road to manage. This was not the case for our family with our first daughter. She was in the end stages of AIDS when we brought her home and her body suffered badly from the virus advancing so severely throughout her system. She has many doctor and therapy appointments and we take them one step at a time. Her HIV is the easiest part of her medical needs, because it is now under control, but she has lingering health issues that may never resolve.
A couple of years after our daughter came home, we adopted a little boy who is also HIV positive. His health was much better when he came home. His situation is more like I read of other families raising children who are HIV positive. He only needs to see a specialist to check his blood and viral levels twice a year and take medications every morning and every night. Other than those things, HIV is not a big deal for him at all.
HIV can affect different people differently. We see this is our own family.
- HIV has impacted us most significantly through other people’s lack of understanding of the process of HIV transmission.
We are so grateful for websites like this one and others working to help educate and break down barriers of stigma surrounding HIV. We would love for people to know that our family is just like most other families. There is nothing to fear about us, except maybe our messy house and massive laundry pile, but definitely not HIV.
That’s a non-issue. You can be friends with us just like everyone else.