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Colombia Adoptive Families

concidering special need adoption

Hi. I am looking to adopt from Colombia with my husband. We are seeking a child between the ages of 7 - 10 years old. However, I am considering a female who may be HIV positive. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions, tips, words of encouragement or any advise they may share. I realize that HIV may still be a taboo but my heart pours out to this child even though, I have not been formally placed with the child. Not sure, if we are opening a box we should not be doing. Thanks.


There are two types of pediatric hiv, same virus with slightly different subsets. The first is less common but more serious. These kids don’t respond well to treatment , the disease progresses quickly, and they usually don’t make it past their teens. The more common type responds very well to medication.  You would never know these kids are sick,  they live pretty normal lives, and have the potential to reach old age. They take a lot of medications, which can have side effects, and will need periodic blood draws, but that’s it. I have seen some kids need feeding tubes to get their meds in, but most kids don’t need one.Hiv is really taboo in most Latin American countries, and they often don’t tell the kids or teens they have it. Before you make a decision you will want to know how she is responding to treatment. If she is doing well, you might end up being surprised that hiv is not nearly as bad as most people think it is.

Posted by rn4kidz on Nov 25, 2015 at 11:47pm

I think it is wonderful that you are considering HIV+ kids.  Many of these kids will do very well, and live to fairly advanced ages.

Do remember that HIV is considered an “excludable illness” for U.S. immigration purposes.  That does not mean that you will be totally unable to immigrate an HIV+ child whom you adopt abroad, but it does mean some extra paperwork to prove to the USCIS that you can satisfactorily meet two conditions required for an adoption visa waiver:

1.  That you know enough about the disease and its transmission to keep the child from infecting others, and to ensure that your child fully understands the implications of the disease before becoming sexually active.

2.  That you recognize the possibility that your child could wind up needing a great deal of medical care, and have the resources to provide that care and ensure that your child will never have to rely on public assistance.

In general, the people who have been most likely to get waivers are those in the health professions—doctor, nurse, public health educator, etc.—especially if they have worked with children who have blood borne diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and so on.  You may also get a waiver more easily if you have had a family member with HIV and have been involved in his/her care. 

You may need to document provisions in your health insurance policy, which indicate that HIV will be covered like any other disease, in terms of insurance coverage for medical testing and treatment.

Be aware that some countries do not permit the adoption of children with HIV, as they still regard it as an incurable, fatal disease.  Also, be aware that many orphans with HIV, around the world, will not have received medications that could reduce their viral load and lengthen their lives; the sooner a child can get into treatment, the better he/she will usually do.  And many children will have faced social situations that could affect their mental health—for example, watching a parent die a slow death from AIDS or being segregated from other children because the caregivers fear that an HIV+ child can infect others through the air or by touch (a false belief).

Right now, there is no approved vaccine against HIV, and no drug that will completely cure it.  But vaccines and medications are going through research and development, and there’s a good possibility that a child born today and infected by his/her HIV-positive birthmother will have access to vaccines or lifesaving treatments in his/her lifetime.  So there is reason for optimism, when you adopt an HIV+ child.


Posted by sak9645 on Nov 26, 2015 at 5:32am

One more thing.

It is good that you are considering an older child, as the HIV status of the child can be diagnosed more accurately with the ordinary testing available in their countries.  In some very young children born to HIV+ birthmothers, for example, false positives may occur because they still have maternal antibodies on board, although they did not actually acquire the disease during the birth process.

Posted by sak9645 on Nov 26, 2015 at 5:47am

Sak9645, are you sure your info re immigration is current? A nurse I know who adopted 5 or so years ago said that in the US HIV was no longer considered a fatal illness. Her child while on antiviral medicines had no measurable viral load.

Did not know there were 2 types as Rn4kidz has explained so well.

This nurse said most of the countries give the drug in liquid form which contains significant amounts of alcohol because it is the cheapest form. One of the first things she did was get her child on the dry (non alcoholic) version which she said was no less effective and much, healthier.

I know of others who have or are adopting HIV + children from Colombia. Colombia is a country with a foster and orphanage system that is on par if not better than the US in regards to support of children needing care. (That however is not to say it is ideal.)

You will need to be able to educate your child, but even more so, to stick your neck out to advocate for her if you go ahead and adopt. Many people are not very informed and will discriminate against a child with HIV. I do recall this nurse refused to provide any tests for the school system that were not required of all other children.

All of us replying to this post have adopted children with significant special needs. These children bring challenges, need educated, proactive parents, but often teach and inspire others around them as well! Good luck to you and this child!

Posted by Happy Camper on Nov 27, 2015 at 5:39am
Posted by Happy Camper on Nov 27, 2015 at 5:39am

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