Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quick clarification

I have gotten several emails lately (in addition to one incident this summer that happened "in real life") from people who think my Ethiopian sons have HIV. Just to clear things up, I'm hereby going on record as saying they do NOT have HIV.

I'm sorry if I've somehow left room for confusion. While HIV is CERTAINLY nothing to be ashamed of, out of respect for my children, I also don't want people out there believing something untrue about their health. I feel bad that my blog has already somehow contributed to this. I wasn't going to post about it (I don't want to give the impression that HIV is something I'm wanting to distance my family from, because I do NOT feel that way), but it's been happening a lot lately so I felt I needed to say something.

While I volunteer occasionally for AHOPE for Children, if you look back through my posts you will see that Yosef and Biniam came to us from Layla House, not AHOPE. I have written a fair amount on this blog about HIV and HIV+ adoption, but from the standpoint of an advocate, not an adoptive mother. HIV and AIDS are profoundly affecting our world and it's something we should all care more about. It's also something easy to ignore in our comfy middle- or upper-class American lives.

As for the incident this summer, when I was working at the Mile High Music Festival, Kevin brought the kids by the booth one evening. Someone working for a nonprofit in the booth next to us was sitting there. At one point Biniam had some of my bottled water. After Kevin and the kids left, this person spoke up and said, "I just wanted to let you know, your son drank out of your bottle. I don't know much about how you catch HIV but I wanted to let you know." Um....right. I quickly told him that, first of all, my kids DON'T have HIV, and then proceeded to educate him on how HIV is--and is not--spread.

I do know of some aMAZing families who have adopted HIV+ children. If you would like to talk to someone who has done this, email me and I can give them your contact information.

Okay, that is all. Now back to our regular programming! :)


Jeannett Gibson said...

Wow. So sad that even today, with all the resources we have at our fingertips (literally) that there is still such confusion out there about transmission.

Joanie said...

Brianna, this is why folks love your blog. You put into words what could be a touchy subject, and expressed it beautifully, giving each side their due. Sensitive and heartfelt. That is your blog. Plus really funny sometimes, as in when you described yourself as guilt-ridden at Anna's last birthday when everyone was sick.

Joanie said...

Did I just make that up about everyone being sick on Anna's birthday? I went back in time and checked your blog and couldn't find it. I may be delirious.

Brianna Heldt said...

Jeannett the other weird thing was, this person's father is a big-time judge and his mom a lawyer...obviously coming from a very educated family.

Ha Joanie you crack me up! Nope, you didn't make that up. Everyone was sick! :) (Thank you for the kind words by the way. You always encourage me!!!)

Emily B. said...

Well said. I agree with Jeannette-- in this day in age there is no reason people should be that clueless. It's just sad, and ignorant.

SupermomE11 said...

It is nice that you can answer these comments by saying that your kids don't have HIV... It is a lot harder to face these comments when your child IS HIV+.

Thanks for caring about HIV/AIDS education even though it isn't something you are living with, and thanks for all you have done for AHOPE. :)


Thankfulmom said...


I second Erin's comments. We at AHOPE for Children are very grateful and happy to have you on our team of volunteers. Your work both advocating for the children is essential.

I understand your need to clarify your kids' status - it's just the truth of your situation.



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