She jumps up and down, demanding to be picked up. You snuggle her close while the other children grab at your skirt, demanding the same attention. As the dinner bells rings you gather them up and move with them into the home. They all sit down as you pass out plates of food and water and bow your head in thanks. She looks up at you with gleaming eyes and smiles as she shovels food into her mouth and dribbles water down her front.
And you would never know.
Never know that there was a little symbol that changed her life. That that symbol, written in her profile, brought her chances of being adopted down dramatically. That that symbol makes people avoid her. Nervously offer hugs. Push away her kisses. Freak out at the sight of her blood.
That’s all it takes. One symbol. And her life is changed.
What if we didn’t tell you? What if we treated her like everyone else and you never knew the difference? You would hug her. You would kiss her. You would put Band-Aids on her scrapes. You wouldn’t fear. You would love her freely.
And maybe… just maybe… you’d consider making her your daughter.
The thing is- you’re confused. That + sign doesn’t make her unadoptable. It doesn’t even necessarily make her sick. HIV has never been spread in a household environment. You can’t get it from hugging and kissing and putting on band aids. It’s easier to manage than diabetes.
She’s not stuck in that orphanage because she’s HIV+. She’s stuck in that orphanage because we are misinformed. Because we don’t know.
Today is world AIDS day. Take the time to KNOW and LEARN. And maybe…just maybe… take a step to help children like her out of orphanages. Take a step to reach out to someone branded with that symbol. Take a step to speak out for the people all over the world fighting this stigma. Take a step to love them like Jesus.