Written by Janine ( Neen ) Weir – Australian Adoption Advocate and Adoptive Mother
Few Australians would have considered adopting a child with HIV in the past. But, this is changing as new education surfaces about children living with the virus and advances in medical treatment. While there may be Australians willing to step forward to provide a loving family for orphans with HIV/AIDS, they presently don’t have the option. Why?
Our current immigration laws prevent persons with HIV+ immigrating to Australia. Our government’s view of HIV is locked in the 1980’s -stuck in a global panic scenario about an HIV epidemic. It appears based on old fears and ignorance, not on current knowledge and facts. This prevents HIV+ adoption.
Yet the greatest need worldwide exists in this category of adoptions, and other western countries are stepping up to give these children a future .
Orphans with HIV/AIDS make a concerning percentage of the number of unparented children in the world. ( There are over 2.3 million children that are living with HIV infection, according to the 2010 UNAIDS global report.) Every hour thousands of them will die. A family really may be the difference between life and death for children like these. Family means access to proper medical care, better nutrition, love and support – All things children need to thrive with the virus
Child traffickers are NOT interested in HIV+ Orphans. Often the orphans are treated as lepers and outcasts in their countries of origin where over 50 % will die before they reach 2 years of age. Some orphanages leave these children to languish unattended without the funds to properly meet their needs. Seems most everyone is content to ignore these children. That is with the exception of a few bold and loving families prepared to raise them.
In Australia these children could thrive and bloom as amazing human beings. Their full potential could be realized in a country where they have access to the medical treatment which reduces HIV to a chronic but manageable disease. Whereas it would likely be a death sentence if they were left as orphans.
Western countries are , indeed, now adopting HIV + orphans successfully and extending the boundaries of love and family to children most desperately in need. Countries like the United States and Canada have opened their doors recognizing their citizens desire to adopt these unparented children and supporting them in this decision.(Processing immigration of an HIV+child into the USA now takes on average only 5 days)
It is the case that an Australian parent hoping to adopt an orphan from a foreign country today must endure a heartache-and-hurdles trial of gruelling waiting times and red tape.
Only 330, on average, find their way into an Australian home each year. Yet 4 or 5 times that number of Australian families regularly apply and express interest in adopting. Many families currently waiting for adoptions will “age out” before they have a chance to provide a home for an adopted child. For these families and others adopting an HIV+ child will not be unrealistic.
Our federal government can sit comfortably knowing that there will be no child trafficking scandal with HIV+ Adoption.
The risk is very clear that orphans with HIV who are institutionalized, or outcasts in lesser environments genuinely have no other opportunity for a permanent family. The cost of inaction , when Australian families are willing and keen to adopt these children is concerning.
Adoption of Orphans with HIV in many cases really can save a child’s life.
As an adoption advocate and a citizen I’d like to see my government gain the courage to update policies with facts. ( not fear and ignorance ) It is my personal hope that Australian families would be able to open their hearts and home to children who have been needlessly dismissed already in the very near future.
How wonderful that would be !