In February 2010, when we weren’t sure whether Ugandan adoption would ever work again, Brad and I saw the picture of an HIV positive two year old boy from Ghana. He was breath taking. Precious. And he needed parents.
In a small way, I loved Sampson instantly. I think anyone would have. His big round eyes begged for you to hold him, and we wanted to. We didn’t know if God was closing a door to Uganda, and nothing looked more inviting than his little face. But… what do we do with the phrase “HIV+”? By the time Brad and I struggled, and then emailed for more information, a loving family had already committed to pursue his adoption. I can’t say we were too disappointed… we weren’t sure whether we were “up” for the challenge of HIV. But God was starting something in us.
Days later, I read on our agency’s blog that Sampson had died of malaria… a totally preventable and treatable disease in the U.S.
I sat in my living room and sobbed. We were not his parents, and my heart ached for those who had planned to be. While he was never meant to be ours, I could still picture that precious little face running through our kitchen. HIV was no longer a stigma in my mind. Heartbreaking, yes, but a game-changer for my love? Never again. Sampson’s face had beautifully wrecked that view in our minds.
I think God used Sampson’s precious face, life, and death to awaken many hearts like ours. I have seen his story on several blogs. In my own soul, I finally told God “yes” to special needs children.
Because we are not the parents to a child with HIV, we have the freedom to speak out for those who are.
We do not have a family member with HIV, but my heart burns with passion on the subject. And since no one in our family faces this disease, we are free to speak loudly where others may face stigma. I hope you will stay with me in the days that follow. You will probably be shocked, and hopefully empowered, by what you learn.
- Intro: A Series is Born
- Part 1: (today) How God Opened Our Hearts to HIV
- Part 2: HIV: I Want That Kind of Faith
- Part 3: The Stigma is a Lie (and Satan is the Liar)
- Part 4: Talking to Mothers of HIV+ Children
- Part 5: What to Do, Now That You Know
- End: Helpful Facts About HIV/AIDS