Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Full Disclosure

Here it goes:
I started my journey to adopt Baby Joaquin in September of 2010.  There have been tons of twists, turns and blocked roads along the way.  Technically speaking, there is no reason for a Congo adoption to take this long.  Except when God has a plan that is different from your own.  He started cluing me in to this fact early last spring when one of the first families with the agency I used to be with finally traveled to bring home their child.  The news they reported from the DRC while there was horrifying, especially the parts about the agency run orphanage.

In addition to all of the incredibly unethical practices that were going on, I was hearing things that really messed with my comfort.  I was so nervous that I would be referred a baby with a need that I didn't feel I could handle.  That's when God started whispering to me.  He whispered one, sweet verse to me over and over:

"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'" - Matthew 25:45

I knew I was in trouble :)
I started to get that uncomfortable uneasiness when you know the Lord is leading you down a path you would have never chosen on your own.  I lined up my excuses, "But God, what about...?"  and "But God, I don't think I could ever...." and, "But God, HOW?"
Every single excuse I put in front of him, He answered with the Matthew verse.
Being the faithful One that he is, he also brought things to me to ease my discomfort and to show me that yes, when I trust in HIS plan, he will provide.
I "met" a very normal mom who adopted a child with a need I thought I couldn't handle.  Her life with her "special" need child looked very normal.  No big deal.  Hmmmm.
Then I found some more blogs of adoptive parents with children of the same special need and I saw how normal their lives looked as well.
My uneasiness slowly started to depart.
Then the Lord showed me a couple of organizations that really advocate for these children.  Their educational resources are AMAZING!!  I couldn't get enough of what they were saying.  My mind felt like a sponge and I was loving learning all that I could.
Then came October.  
My new facilitator posted that a baby with this special need was looking for his forever family.  I contacted her immediately and said I was interested to know more.  She told me another family was considering him, but if they didn't accept him, she would give me his information.  I thought to myself, there's no way that family will turn him down.  This was on a Wednesday.  I prayed all Wednesday night and all day Thursday.  I kept checking my email during the day.  Nothing.  I left school later than usual and still no email or voicemail.  I was happy that the baby found a family but was also disappointed.
Then she emailed me.  "Well Kristen, he's still available...."
I couldn't believe it!!!  She warned me that he was super cute but I told her I felt I couldn't make the decision without seeing him.  I had 24 hours to decide.  I immediately told 3 people to pray specifically that God would make it super clear if this was indeed Baby Joaquin.  I didn't tell them about the special need because I didn't want any personal bias to interfere with their prayers.
I was at the gas station when she emailed me and I couldn't wait to get home to look at him!!!
Before I opened the email, I prayed that God would give me peace and clarity of mind on whether or not this baby was for me.  I opened the email and she wasn't lying.  He was the cutest thing ever!!  But, my heart sank because I knew immediately, he wasn't for me.  I can't explain it, I just knew.  I didn't want my feelings to dictate everything so I continued to pray.  I had until Friday to tell her yes or no.
I woke up Friday morning with an overwhelming sense of peace about two things:

1)  That specific baby was not intended for me.  He was in instrument in guiding me to where God was calling me...
2)  That I would adopt an HIV + baby from the DRC.

Although that specific baby wasn't intended for me, he did open the last door to my heart.   I knew I needed time for 3 things:
1)  to educate myself more so that I was the most prepared I could be
2)  tell my family and close circle of friends to gain support
3)  decide whether or not to disclose his HIV status

My friends and family have been amazingly supportive.  I was expecting the worst and that's not at all how my decision was received.  You see, I found out about HIV/AIDS in the 80's at the height of the pandemic when it was a death sentence and fear spread rumors like wildfire.  I can tell you the EXACT moment I became a germaphobe.  We were warming up for soccer practice, talking about our next game with our rivals we couldn't stand, and G made a comment that we shouldn't use their bathrooms because we would get the AIDS from them.  The  Aids.  Really?  We were so dumb!  I didn't even know what it was but I found out quickly.  And then there were the spring break urban legends about a girl who hooked up with her dream guy and he sent her home with a gift she wasn't supposed to open until she was on the plane...  You can read all about that drama here.  Anyway, as I started my education about HIV, I realized that I was with the majority of the country in not having been educated about the disease past 1987.  WOW.  I couldn't believe all I learned!  It is no longer considered fatal.  It is now classified as a chronic disease considered easier to manage than diabetes.  You can't "catch" it from normal household living.  In addition, an HIV+ person who is on the antiretroviral medication can lead a normal life, with normal life expectancy and can even have children!  The advances in the treatment of this disease is absolutely phenomenal.  I could go on and on about it but if you are interested, you can read about it here.

With regard to disclosure, I prayed A TON about this.  It is a very important decision.  There are families who disclose and there are families who don't.  I respect everyone's decision and I would hope the same in return.  About 6 years ago, I was introduced to a book series about strongholds and how to pray binding and loosing prayers.  Hands down what I learned from those books has been the most powerful thing that has completely changed my prayer life and has been responsible for HUGE prayers being answered and deliverance of some major stuff.  In one of the books, she outlines three sources of where strongholds take place.  One of them is shame.  I don't want Baby Joaquin to grow up with a secret that he feels he has to keep.  He has nothing to be ashamed of with being HIV+.  People who have children with other kinds of special needs don't feel obligated to keep those a secret so why should I?  The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is the biggest obstacle out there.  Ignorance breeds fear.  So if we can do our part to educate those around us so that in turn, the fear and ignorance about HIV/AIDS dissipates, then so be it.  If my life with Joaquin can be a beacon of hope and a future for another child waiting to find his forever family, then it's worth it.  HIV+ children are the most overlooked children when it comes to adoption.  Internationally, it's still a huge crisis because the medications aren't available.  I love the United States.  I mean, I really love it.  I've traveled a ton, lived in other countries, and when you leave your country, you learn to appreciate what we have.  And what we have here are amazing resources for medicine and treatment that you can't find anywhere else.

Finally, it was really important to me to talk to M, my in-country facilitator and social worker for Munni's adoption.  She was 110% supportive and thought I should start pursuing it right away.  She's known Munni for almost 3 years and has seen her adjust to life in the orphanage.  She thinks that Munni will thrive having a baby brother :)  The other thing M told me that broke my heart is that hardly ever do the HIV+ children in Ind*a get adopted.  She said that the majority of them grow up in an institution because no one wants to adopt an HIV+ child.  There are no words for how devastating this is.  It further confirmed my decision to disclose.

So my next steps are that during my one month home with Munni (YIPPEEEE!!!!) post placement visit, I will have my Congo home study updated to specifically include HIV as a special need I am willing to adopt.  This is necessary for the immigration.  This should be in March sometime.

I was talking to my friend Mer the other day and I told her how if someone would of told me 3 1/2 years ago when I started the adoption journey that I was going to adopt an older child with a traumatic past and an HIV+ baby, I would have bolted as fast I could in the opposite direction.  The two things I was most resistant to and afraid of, the Lord brought to me.  I think about Sweet Munni and how I would have completely missed out on her if I would have stayed with my myopic point of view.  She replied, "I know.  Don't you love it when you say things like 'I would NEVER do that,' and God's like, 'um, actually we ARE going to do that!'"

So there it is.

I am open to answering any questions you may have.  I can't believe how much I've learned so if I can educate along the way, bring it!

Oh, and that sweet baby boy?  I emailed my DRC facilitator right before I left for Ind*a.  He had been on my heart obviously and I prayed for him everyday that he would find a family.

God answered those prayers :)


  1. this is AWESOME. all glory to God. He is showing you his path and you are walking it. It's a God-sized storyline. Amazing. can't wait to see what God does in 2013!

  2. Oh my gosh, that is so exciting and wonderful all around :)

  3. I like this. I love this. You are a wonderful mommy. I like that you are educating others, and giving full disclosure.
    So excited for you! Can't wait until all this comes to pass....

  4. I just love those kinds of surprises . . . when God brings us around to accept and love circumstances or people we had held at arms length before. It is beautiful to see how you are so conformed to His heart!

  5. That's wonderful news! I know several families that have adopted children who are HIV+. Their lives are completely normal! And there's tons of support for HIV+ adoptions. I think it's fantastic.

    You know, the ONE thing we put on our application to adopt Noah was that we did NOT want a child with autism. And when the agency told us he has CP (the week we were travelling!), we said, "Well, at least it's not something like autism!" Ha! Sometimes I think God gives you the one thing you fear to show you it's really nothing to be afraid of at all. (We also always said we could never adopt with RAD or emotional issues. Hmmmm... maybe we need to just stop talking!)

    I'm so excited for you, Kristen! I think your family of 3 sounds perfect!


    1. You make me smile.
      I think God must like you to talk.

  6. Oh...this was a fun read. I love it. I am so excited for you....and so glad that you have received such clear answers from the Lord. He is wonderful like that, isn't He? I cannot wait to see at the top of this blog a picture of you, Munni, and Joaquin. (and Simon, Lola and Rollie)

    Love you,
    Mer :)

  7. Oh I am just SO HAPPY FOR YOU!! (I try to comment days ago but my computer was being weired) God is so good!! We prayed for our 4 for months they would have a family before we knew if was US!! We were going to adopt one little girl and God gave us 3 girls and a boy...more than we could ask or imagine!!
    I can't wait to watch and pray through bringing your son home!! I've loved that we are bringing our kids home at the same time!! I am hoping in 2 weeks I'll be home! I so appreciate the U.S. now too!!!
    Happy New Year!!

  8. I think it is so interesting how each journey takes shape over the long period of time it takes to complete and how all the twists and turns occur along the way. It has been so interesting to watch how yours has progressed since our first emails back and forth to now and to see how comfortably planted your feet have become in where they stand. Good Luck!


  9. I don't know where my previous comment went. It is so amazing how you are finding clarity for things. I am so glad to have met you. You are an amazing woman with so much love for her children. It is so true how God places things/people in your way just to make the path clear for you... These are not coincidences, these are all in God's plan. Hang in there. I'm praying for you, Kristen.

  10. Amazing...and exciting! God is doing great things in your life and family! I am so happy for your clarity and direction. I'll be adding little Joaquin and your journey to bring him home to my daily prayer list!

  11. Kristen-
    Thank you so much for this post. At the Empowered to Connect Conference last year a family came up that had 13 (I believe) children and her latest baby was HIV+ - she had an amazing testimony and now advocates for HIV+ kids. I love how God works to protect and love on his children. Can't wait for Munni and Joaquin to be home in your arms.

  12. Hi! I'm new to your blog and have loved reading through your posts. My husband and I are hoping to adopt from India; we are waiting for the country to re-open to applications next month. I would LOVE to email with questions if I could? I didn't see contact info anywhere? Would you be open for questions? God Bless!!

    1. Hello! I LOVE answering questions! Seriously, my journey has been so crazy and I've learned so much- I don't mind answering anything. My hope is that I can help so that another child finds his/her forever family :) My email is kgwilliams3@gmail.com