HIV Adoption Forum February 12th in Chicago

Project Hopeful – HIV Adoption Forum Invitation

Project HOPEFUL in partnership with University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital Adoption Clinic are pleased to offer their first Parent Forum of 2011. These parent forums have been hugely successful educational tools for parents and extended family members who desire to learn more about HIV/AIDS and adoptive parenting.

Come join us February 12th from 10am-noon at the University of Chicago where attendees will benefit from expert medical knowledge regarding the latest in HIV/AIDS treatment and care, along with the opportunity to have specific questions answered by University of Chicago medical staff. Project HOPEFUL will offer real-life practical insights into adopting and raising children who are positive. This parent forum is designed to offer prospective adoptive families a realistic understanding of the joys and challenges of parenting a child or children living with HIV/AIDS.

Topics University of Chicago Adoption Team will Discuss:

  • Medical, developmental, and psychosocial aspects of adoption
  • Thriving with HIV in 2011

Topics Project HOPEFUL will discuss:

  • Day-to-day experiences
  • Medications and medical visits
  • Educating family and friends
  • Preparing for adoption

The session will also feature open Q&A time allowing attendees to question the panel  along with several experienced adoptive parents.

To register for the forum simply click HERE to use the Donate page. Fill out the form and add “Univ of Chi Forum” in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Please be sure to indicate the number of attendees in your party. Registration is only $10.00 per family.

Single Men, Gay couples & individuals Adopting Children with HIV

Men can adopt internationally, whether single, gay or straight.

Following is an extensive list of country programs which may be open to men and other adopting parents who are not in a traditional married relationship. This article was written in January 2011 and things change in the international adoption world very quickly. [Update as of 2016, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico or the best countries for LGBT singles and couples]. Please contact me with any corrections to this information so I can try to keep this article updated. Always do your own research and be diligent in your quest for correct and current information. Adoption.state.gov lists the adoption authority in each country and the embassy can also provide official information about adoptive parent eligibility requirements and licensed agencies in your country of citizenship. Requirements are often agency specific, so if you find an agency you want to work with which does not indicate that men can adopt – ask them to make an exception for an HIV positive orphan or keep searching.

India is open to single men and women and definitely has HIV-positive children registered for international adoption. Try CHLSSWACAP or Illien Adoptions in America or CAFAC and Children’s Bridge in Canada.  Single Ichild Yahoo Group. Canadians Adopting From India Forum.

Colombia (not Columbia) is open to single men and there are HIV+ children waiting. [Update: as of April 2016, same-sex marriage is now legal in Colombia which may mean that LGBT individuals and couples can adopt]. Contact CHLSS, La Vida or AdopolisAdopt Colombia Yahoo Group. Swedish Colombian Adoption Yahoo Group -En Lista for de som har /kommer att adoptera fran Colombia. Dutch Colombian Adoption Yahoo Group – Adoptie Colombia voor en door aspirant ouders.

Philippines allows single men to adopt according to Children of All Nations. Also see Wide Horizons for Children, maybe Crossroads, Welcome House / Pearl S. Buck Int’l, and Madison Adoption Associates indicates that families are needed for children with HIV, although they specify single women (inquire and show them other agencies which allow men as well as this site which does not restrict men). Hand In Hand has placed HIV+ children from a different country.  Bethany Christian Services (experience with HIV) indicates that single applicants will need pre-approval for a waiting child. Holt International (experience with HIV) indicates single applicants are accepted for children with special needs – perhaps they would be able to locate a child with HIV lacking parental care. If you are in Canada, try Formons Une Famille adoption agency which is currently processing special needs requests only.  Formons Une Famille Philippines Yahoo Group (Canada). Adoption_Phillipines (in French). Adopt Philippines International (if you are outside USA), Adopt Phillipines USA.

Uganda HIV+ children are in need of international parents and single men are allowed to adopt. Some adoption agencies you could start inquiring with include Adoption Advocates International, Americans For African Adoption (AFAA), Children of All Nations and Nightlight Christian Adoptions. Independent adoptions are also allowed. Uganda Adoptions Yahoo Group and Ugandan Adoptive Families.

Estonia came to a standstill after this article was written. It used to be an excellent option for single dads who wish to adopt. There have been successful HIV adoptions from this country. For an update, contact Adoption Hope International. See the Estonian Adoption group and the AdoptingFromEstonia group.

Latvia is another excellent option for adopting single fathers. Children with HIV are currently registered for international adoption. Men are welcome to adopt Latvian children. Some of the agencies to start with include About A Child, One World Adoption Services and Children of All Nations.

Costa Rica allows single men. See Wide Horizons for Children or Welcome House / Pearl S. Buck to find out if children with HIV are in need of parental care.

Bulgaria is open to single male adoption but at the time of this writing, there were no waiting children with HIV. An adoption agency in Canada such as Sunrise might be able to partner with Vesta for Bulgaria. There are many American adoption agencies working in this country, although the ones that specifically mention “singles” (opposed to “single women”) include: Lifeline, Carolina Adoption Services, Adoptions Together, Hopscotch Adoptions, About A Child, Adopolis, MLJ and Gladney.  That’s just a starter list. Hopefully one of those will be able to represent you and locate an HIV+ child for you, but if not, there are other agencies to contact such as OWAS – point out to them that single men are not restricted by Bulgaria. Inquire with your country’s embassy such as the US Embassy in Bulgaria and Bulgaria’s adoption authority website Ministry of Justice. See the Bulgaria-Adopt Yahoo Group.

Ecuador Single men can adopt although I have not researched waiting children with HIV. Try Terre des Hommes Ontario if you are Canadian or CHSFS and Illien for Americans. All three agencies have experience with HIV adoption and might be able to locate an HIV+ child for you. The central authority is CNNA.gov.ec Consejo Nacional de la Ninez y Adolescencia (CNNA) National Council of Childhood and Adolescence. See also Ecuador-Adopt Yahoo Group and CanEc_Adoption Yahoo Group for Canadians.

Moldova At the time of this writing, The Family Network did not have parent requirements for Moldova on their website, Carolina Adoption Services,Spence-ChapinAdoption Miracle and Adoptions Together all indicated single women (which might be an agency not government preference). I think it’s worth contacting them “just in case” because this might be a potential country program for single men as adoption.state.gov does not state a gender preference. The US Embassy in Moldova or other Moldovan Embassies might also be able to provide you with concrete eligibility policies and point you in the right direction.   HIV-positive orphans ARE currently registered for international adoption (according to CAS). The adoption authority which makes the rules is the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family and the various links lead here. See the Moldova Adoption Yahoo Group

Liberia allows single parents to adopt and does not state a preference between single fathers and single mothers. All Blessings International states that it is one of three adoption agencies licensed to place children with medical needs. The website states there are HIV+ children in the program. However, this particular agency only mentions single women – inquire as adoption.state.gov does not indicate that men are unwelcome. Adopt International accepts male applicants. AdoptingFromLiberia and AdoptAfrica Yahoo Group.

Peru allows single dads to adopt. Children of All Nations has indicated that waiting children with HIV are currently registered for adoption. Other agencies to consider include CHSFSVilla Hope, Carolina Adoption Services, and Illien Adoptions International. The Yahoo Group is PeruAdopt and is open to US, Spain, Italy and other countries.

Haiti is open for single parent adoption (does not state men or women) and there have been HIV-positive children registered for international adoption in the past. Try Adoption-Link (which experience with HIV adoption and states that exceptions to parent criteria can be made for HIV-positive children), Love Beyond Borders or Carolina Adoption Services to start. There are many other agencies to inquire with although single men are not mentioned on their websites. If you are in Canada, try CAFAC or Sunrise. Outside of US and Canada, contact your country’s adoption authority or the Haitian adoption authority Institut de Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR) or your embassy such as US Embassy in Haiti. The HaitianAngels Yahoo Adoption Group and the Canadians Adopting From Haiti group might also be of assistance.

Jamaica can be a challenging adoption process according to the Yahoo group. Adopting parents in process say the best way to adopt from Jamaica may be to identify a child yourself and adopt independently. Plan on corresponding with the Jamaicans diligently and traveling there occasionally to keep the paperwork moving along. All single applicants are considered on a case by case basis according to adoption.state.gov. There is at least one HIV orphanage which may be able to help you identify a child. Child Development Agency (CDA) is the central adoption authority. CAFAC in Canada.

Belize is open to single men and women. There are waiting children with HIV currently registered.

Mexico allows single men and same sex couples to adopt jointly from certain jurisdictions including Mexico City. Contact CHLSS which has experience with HIV adoptions, single men and LGBT adoptions. Other options might be Carolina Adoption Services, International Child FoundationAcross the World Adoptions, All God’s Children or MLJ Adoptions. Be sure you are using an approved agency. I do not know of specific waiting children with HIV, but the agencies can advise you.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Singles are accepted, with no stated preference toward women. Try Hands Across the Water, One World Adoption Services, Wasatch International Adoption, MLJ and Compassionate Hearts (experience with HIV). Congo Adopt Yahoo Group. Our Hearts in Congo Yahoo Group (Canada?) Adopcion Congo (Spanish language)

Nicaragua MLJ states that single men can adopt from this country. Please inquire with the agency to find out if HIV+ children are in need of adoptive fathers. Nicaragua Adoption Yahoo Group.

Hong Kong does not state a preference between single women and men. I do not know if children living with HIV are registered for international adoption. You could inquire with Bethany Christian Services. The Yahoo Group is HK Adopt

Uzbekistan allows single applicants according to adoption.state.gov. The agency About A Child has an adoption program in this country and this agency has experience with HIV adoption (in other countries). Please inquire with the agency to determine if there are any Uzbek children with HIV in need of international parents. US Embassy in Uzbekistan. There are other agencies as well. See the Uzbekistan Adoption Yahoo Group.

United States of America allows single men and women of any sexual orientation to adopt openly. There are less than 200 HIV-positive babies born in USA per year and most stay with their biological families. Only a couple of children per year seem to be in need of adoptive families. Contact your county or state foster-adopt organization keeping in mind it is rather unlikely you will be matched with child with HIV. Here is a basic overview of the process.

Poland allows single adoptive parents. BVS Adoption Program indicates “singles” without a preference to men or women.  Saint Mary International Adoptions, Huminska’s Anioly and Children’s House International Adoptions are some more agencies working in this country although these sites state single women. However, CHI says the adopting parent requirements are flexible for children with special needs. Catholic Charities may also be able to assist.  At the time of this writing, siblings with HIV were waiting. You may want to indicate to the agency that men are not excluded as per the Poland Embassy in Washington DC, adoption.state.gov and by confirming with the Polish Adoption Authority (contact info at the bottom of the previous link). According to this link and this link, some of the cooperating countries include Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, USA, Italy, Spain, Finland, Norway and Austria (maybe others). If you are located in a different country, the last link indicates they are open to cooperating with additional licensed agencies by signing a mutual cooperation agreement. See the Polish Adoptions Yahoo Group and the Adoption-Poland Group.

Africa Sunrise Adoption in Canada has an HIV program for several countries in Africa. Inquire to see if singles are accepted into the program.

Russia If you are outside the US, there are MANY orphans with HIV in need of parents right now. There are very limited regions from which men can adopt although I believe N*zhny Novg*rod may be an option. Previously, American men were working with Adoption Center of Washington and Cradle of Hope. Americans cannot adopt from this country as of January 1, 2013.

Hungary allows single adoptive parents (particularly for older children and those with special needs) and does not state a preference between men and women. Try contacting About A Child or Children’s House International to find out if children with HIV are waiting. Hungarian Adoption Yahoo Group.

Brazil is open to single men and women. I do not know if HIV+ children are currently registered for international adoption. Contact CAFAC in Canada. In America, the Hague approved agencies as of January 2016 were Lutheran Social Services, Lifeline Children’s Services, Hand In Hand International Adoptions and Across the World Adoptions. Check the US gov Intercountry Adoption website for updates.  This might be a good option for homosexual couples who want to adopt openly as gay adoption is legal in Brazil (contact CHLSS). See the Summary of Laws by Jurisdiction on Wikipedia to be sure LGBT adoption is legal in your state, province or country before inquiring. Gay adoption is legal in most provinces in Canada. If you are outside of Canada or US, you’ll need to do some research to see if Brazil has an adoption agreement with your country. Start your research with your country’s adoption authority and with the State Judiciary Commission of Adoption (CEJA): see “Brazil’s Central Authority” for contact info. If you happen to be in an area where gay adoption is legal such as Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States and some areas of Canada, Australia, etc – you can adopt openly from Brazil!

Vietnam (updated 01/15) In the past, Americans have adopted orphans with HIV from Vietnam. After a period of closure, USA is now re-opening pilot programs with Vietnam. The 2 agencies to contact are Dillon Int’l (which has placed children with HIV) and Holt Int’l. Vietnamese adoption is also open to citizens of other countries including Canada. Contact Terre des Hommes Ontario which states in a January 20, 2011 update that, although the program is going through major changes, “adoption of special needs children will not be interrupted during this time”. Also Choices in BC, Formons une Famille in Quebec mentions children with HIV/AIDS and mentions “singles” without specifying men or women. TDH Quebec also states “singles” and they will discuss special needs adoptions only at this time. HIV+ children are waiting in Viet Nam. Also see the Vietnam Adoption Canada Yahoo Group. If you are outside of Canada, inquire with your adoption authority to find out if your country has a bilateral agreement with Vietnam.

Panama I have heard of one HIV+ child who has been adopted from Panama by a married American couple. The family indicates there are more waiting children with HIV in Panama. According to the US Embassy in Panama, single persons may adopt a child of either gender. The American agencies working in Panama include Hands Across The Water, Families Through International Adoption and European Adoption Consultants. If you would like to provide official confirmation to an agency that single guys can adopt, you could request the policy directly from Panama’s Adoption Authority (in Spanish language of course): adopciones@mides.gob.pa

El Salvador Single parents are eligible to adopt. If you are American, try Americans for International Aid and Adoption first, followed by All Blessings International (although it states ‘single women’) or Villa Hope (does not specify if singles are allowed). Here is the adoption authority website which lists agencies for citizens of various countries, and here is the US Embassy in El Salvador. Hopefully the agency of your choice will be able to advise you if children with HIV are waiting. ElSalvadorAdopt Yahoo Group and El Salvador Adoption Group

South Africa is open to single adoptive moms and dads as well as homosexual and heterosexual couples. La Vida International indicates that LGBT individuals and couples are welcome to apply. Spence Chapin indicates the same. Another agency working in South Africa is Bethany Christian Services. Canadians and citizens of other countries which have an adoption agreement with South Africa can also adopt. If you are in a different country and want to find out if you can adopt, you could inquire with your country’s adoption authority and South Africa’s adoption authority Department of Social Development, Registrar of Adoptions and/or The Commissioner of Child Welfare. There are HIV+ orphans in need of parental care. Three organizations helping orphans with HIV in ZA include Acres of Love, Shepherd’s Keep and The Love of Christ (TLC)

St. Vincent Creative Adoptions is the only US adoption agencies working in St. Vincent and it states “single women”. If you are Canadian, you could inquire with CAFAC (experience with HIV adoption)  to see if single men can adopt children with HIV although their website also indicates “single women”.  However, adoption.state.gov indicates “single parents may adopt” which does not exclude men, so it is worth inquiring.  I don’t personally know of any orphans living with HIV in need of parental care in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but I’m happy to help anyone research this topic. SVG Adopt Yahoo Group

Lesotho HIV+ children are in need of international parents. I do not know if single men are welcome to apply but you may be able to find out from these contacts. If you reside in one of these four countries, please contact your approved agency: in US contact Americans for African Adoption, in Canada contact Sunrise Adoption Services, in the Netherlands, contact  Stichting Kind en Toekomost: skt@xs4all.nl and in Sweden contact Adoption Centrum: birgitta.l@adoptionscentrum.se~ Dutch Yahoo Group: Adoptie Uit Lesotho

Armenia allows single applicants. Inquire with Carolina Adoption Services. The adoption authority and here to find out if children with HIV are registered for international adoption. Armenian Adoption Interest Yahoo Group

Guyana might be a possibility as single individuals are eligible to adopt. Try World View Adoption Association in Canada. Hopefully an adoption agency will be able to inform you if children living with HIV are waiting for families.

You may find it helpful to join online support groups such as Aussie Singles Adopt, HIV Adoption, Single Adopt Vietnam, Single Adopt NY, UK Single Adopters, Children’s Bridge Singles (Canada), Irish Singles Adopt, Gay Dads, Germany or Denmark Single Adoption, Dutch Single Adoption – Adoptie Singles Vlaanderen, Maybe Baby Seattle, Pop Luck Club, etc.

Lonely Life of a 6 yr Old HIV Orphan in China

China Daily article

Chinese AIDS Orphans
Nicknamed Along, the young boy carries firewood home down a mountain path in Niucheping village of Liuzhou city in Southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Nov 3, 2010 [Photo/CFPAlong plays soccer in front of the rundown home where he lives alone. People refuse to play with him due to concerns over his illness. No school or welfare homes will agree to take him. Photo taken on Nov 8, 2010. [Photo/CFP
Child headed household

Along makes a fire to prepare for dinner. His grandmother, who lives 15 minutes’ walk away, built two vegetable plots for him, and pays regular visits despite not living with him. Photo taken on Nov 2, 2010 [Photos/CFP]

A six-year-old HIV-positive child named Along has been collecting wood to support himself since both of his parents died from the virus.

He receives 70 yuan of subsistence allowance per month from the local civil bureau plus periodical material supplies from kindhearted people, but he still lives alone without a guardian.

A follow up article was written 2 weeks later titled ‘No Longer Forgotten’

A Long prepares a meal for himself. The 6-year-old HIV-positive boy lives alone in Niucheping village, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo/China Photo Press

“A Long with his constant companion Old Black. [Photo/Zhou Hua / Xinhua”]

“The boy received toys from people who read about him. [Photo/Zhou Hua/Xinhua”]

“A Long makes a fire to cook. [Photo/China Photo Press”]

Until recently, a 6-year-old HIV-positive boy has lived holed up in a remote mountain village, cut off from humanity with only a dog for company. Chen Feng reports.

A Long is 6. But his world is far removed from his contemporaries. There are no transformer toys, PSP games or friends to play with, only a rough brick structure he calls home and a dog, his constant companion. The HIV-positive boy lives in Niucheping village at the foot of Malu Mountain near Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

His mother died of AIDS in 2009 and his father, racked by a terrible cough and fever, succumbed in the summer.

Dressed in tattered clothes, A Long’s only solace is Lao Hei or Old Black, his dog.

He lives at the end of a muddy path on top of the mountain in his windowless, gray-brick house, with worn wooden doors and rough flooring, permeated by a musty odor.

In contrast, most of the other villagers live in brand new buildings, further down the mountain.

A Long’s parents moved to the top of the mountain six years ago after being diagnosed as HIV- positive.

The boy washes his clothes and cooks his own food at an age when his contemporaries are still being fed by their parents.

Putting some rice and green vegetables into a pot and placing it on a stove made of several blocks of cement, he starts a fire with amazing speed.

He uses no oil or salt but still eats his meal with great relish and sets aside a bit for his dog.

He often sits in the open area in front of his home staring at the path that leads to the outside world, hugging his dog, lost in thought.

He says he has never ventured down the mountain, after his father’s death.

He tells people who visit him – after he came to media attention recently – with great excitement that, “I was in school but only for one term.”

He often takes out his old textbooks, stroking them like little treasures.

Chen Xiyou, headmaster of Malushan Primary School, says: “We allowed A Long to take our pre-school course for one term, but then we had to ask him to leave after his father died of AIDS.

“We have to consider the feelings of the other parents,” Chen says.

A Long is also HIV-positive but has no clue what those letters mean. All he knows is that those who were once his friends have deserted him and doctors refused to help when he accidentally tipped boiling water on his hands.

“But my grandmother always comes to see me,” the boy says.

However, his 84-year-old grandmother will not say why she has not taken him to live with her and his uncles and aunts.

A Long receives a subsidy of 70 yuan ($11.50) from social security and free anti-HIV medicines.

The introverted boy seems overwhelmed with all the attention he has been getting recently.

He is, however, delighted with a basketball that people bought him after reading about him on the Net.

He also practices writing Chinese characters in the sand and is eager to show off his kungfu kicks to visitors.

The latest news is that an old couple has decided to adopt A Long and Old Black, as well as the chicken he is raising.

The local Red Cross Association is also talking about providing proper medical care for A Long.

But there is still one question that troubles the little boy: “When can I go back to school?”

Yu Tianyu contributed to the story.

Fundraiser for Your HIV Adoption

Here is an interesting fundraising option:

Angela and Jennifer are Usborne book consultants to help families fundraise toward their adoptions  (www.usborne.com)
Anyone can book a show as a fundraiser for an adoption.  Anyone.
So if you are the family, you can host the show.
If you know a family, you can host a show on their behalf!
If you are post-adoption but have medical expenses related to your adopted child’s diagnosis, you can fundraise toward those!
And if you don’t know a current family, your funds can be designated toward a medical needs adoption grant with From HIV to Home.
That simple.
The best part….the whole thing is done online!
You just pick a date and then post your “show” link on your Facebook, Twitter, blog, emails – wherever.
That’s really all it takes from you!  (Although Angela and Jennifer can give you a few tips on how to promote sales if you like)
The books are shipped directly to the buyers so you don’t even have to deliver books.
No cleaning house, no making snacks, no wondering if anyone is really coming, and no delivering the books to your guests! 

Quite often, your customers will then offer to host another show toward your adoption.

And you get free books too!  There are several that are great for adopting and getting ready to travel families.
50% of all profit from your show will be donated to the adopting family.
And you, as the host, earn free books in the process (Jennifer just received $300 in free books from an adoption fundraiser show!)
Email to get started.  Angela and Jennifer will alternate shows for families, so when they hear from you, one of them will contact you to get you set up!
email – usborneadoption at gmail dot com

AHF Pharmacy – People Before Profit

If you are in Florida, California or Washington DC, you should know about AHFPharmacy.org. It is a non-profit pharmacy benefiting AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and 96 cents of every dollar made goes to the care and treatment of people living with HIV.

The pharmacy is open to everyone for all sorts of different medications, not just HIV patients. By filling your prescription through an AHF Pharmacy, you are helping people living with HIV. AHF Pharmacy specializes in HIV medications and offers automated 24-hour prescription refills, e-prescribing, and free, discreet home delivery or easy pick-up. They also offer full medication reviews and free tools to improve adherence. You can refill your prescriptions online, by phone, or at a pharmacy. Medicare, Medicaid  and most private insurance is accepted.

 

Why I Advocate for HIV-positive Orphans

I wholeheartedly believe that there won’t be any more HIV positive orphans to advocate for within my lifetime.

That’s right.

Until that time, I will advocate for parental care until the time comes when my advocacy efforts are no longer needed.

The solution, of course, is in preventing mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT). Preventing a birthmother from transmitting the virus to her newborn is only a matter of having access to medication.

In 2006, about 530,000 children became newly infected.  In 2008, around 430,000 children became infected.  As time goes on, fewer babies are being born with HIV/AIDS due to PMTCT. At the rate of 100,000 fewer per year, we’re only a few years away!

In 2004, only 10% of pregnant women with HIV were receiving ARVs in low and middle income countries.  In 2008, that figure was up to 45%. Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation reports 53% of pregnant women worldwide are currently receiving ARVs (June 2010). [Kaiser reported 51% in July 2010.] This percentage is increasing every year and I feel it is feasible to get to nearly 100% PMTCT rates in the foreseeable future.

In high income countries, mother to child transmission has been virtually eliminated and I have every reason to believe that this will be true worldwide as access to treatment becomes more commonplace. As an example, less than 200 babies are born HIV positive in the United States every year because pregnant women in this country have access to the meds. Out of those children who do end up positive, the vast majority stay with their biological families and only a couple of children per year end up in need of foster or adoptive parents.

So why do I advocate for HIV positive orphans? I choose to advocate because I feel orphans with HIV are among the most underprivileged people in society.  Their need for healthcare is a life or death matter and their need for a family is paramount to become a productive member of society.  These children have few people speaking out for them and they truly do not have the means to speak out for themselves.  Being a child without parents must be an immensely difficult position to be in.  I can’t imagine how it might be for a helpless sick  child without a parent who loves them, cares for them, protects them and provides for their daily needs.  Statistics regarding the future prospects of children who emancipate from orphanages, the foster-care system, or who grow up as street children are profoundly bleak: prostitution, homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration and suicide affect the vast majority of those children who grow up as orphans and never find permanent, loving homes. In my opinion,  orphans with HIV  and other diagnoses which ostracize them, are the most disadvantaged people on the planet and I cannot think of a group in greater need of a voice.

Until there is universal access to prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV, I will continue to bring awareness, educate families and find homes for these precious children. There are TOO MANY – at least 200 children (that I know of) are eligible for international adoption RIGHT NOW. If you would like to join me in advocating, please be in touch. We need at least 200 families and I can’t find them alone – people need to see these precious faces and learn the facts about pediatric HIV. If you are not in a position to adopt, please consider sponsoring a child so they may stay in a permanent loving family, contributing to the adoption fund of family trying to bring an HIV+ child home, or advocate on behalf of a child so that a family can find them.

 

Christmas Gifts for HIV+ Orphans

Life2Orphans “Wishing On An Angel” Christmas project has many boxes filled with wonderful Christmas gifts for orphans in Ukraine. They are in need of people who can pay $30-$45 to ship each box overseas. The gifts have been generously donated and the boxes are already packed and waiting at Life2Orphans in Portland to be shipped to Ukraine. You can choose which box you would like to send. There are HIV positive orphans at several orphanages in Ukraine, so if you know which orphanage you would like to send it to, just choose that orphanage from the drop-down menu. Otherwise,  you can choose “M__ AIDS Orphanage” to be sure that HIV+ orphans will receive gifts. Here are the links:

Step 1: Boxes Available (choose one in the 0-4 year age range or for the caretakers and write down the box #).

Step 2: Fill out the form (so they know who is paying for the shipment and where to ship the specified box). Don’t mind the error message.

Step 3: Mail a check or pay via Paypal for shipping costs. I clicked on this link then clicked ‘Donate Online’ (lower left).

The organization is trying to get all of the boxes shipped by October 13th so they will make it to Ukraine in time for Christmas.

No more pre-existing condition exclusions for children

Starting September 23, 2010, there is a new policy which prohibits children with pre-existing health conditions from being excluded from enrollment in health insurance policies. Information can be found on HealthCare.gov. Here are some Questions & Answers about the policy from the US Department of Health & Human Services.

On June 28, 2010, the Administration published the interim final regulations prohibiting new group health plans and health insurance issuers in both the group and individual markets from imposing pre-existing condition exclusions on children under 19 for the first plan year (in the individual market, policy year) beginning on or after September 23, 2010.   These regulations apply to grandfathered group health plans and group health insurance coverage but do not apply to grandfathered individual health insurance coverage that was in existence on March 23, 2010.

Accordingly, for non-grandfathered individual health insurance policies, children under 19 cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition for policy years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.  These questions and answers will assist issuers with implementation of this requirement.

Question #1: Will children in child-only individual market health plans today be affected by the new access to these plans for children with pre-existing conditions?

A: Child-only insurance plans that existed on or prior to March 23, 2010, and that do not significantly change their benefits, cost sharing, and other features, will be “grandfathered” or exempt from these regulations.  As such, children enrolled in grandfathered child-only plans today are unlikely to be affected by the new policies.

Question #2: Do these interim final rules require issuers in the individual health insurance market to offer children under 19 non-grandfathered family and individual coverage at all times during the year?

A: No.  To address concerns over adverse selection, issuers in the individual market may restrict enrollment of children under 19, whether in family or individual coverage, to specific open enrollment periods if allowed under State law.  This is not precluded by the new regulations.

For example, an insurance company could set the start of its policy year for January 1 and allow an annual open enrollment period from December 1 to December 31 each year.  A different company could allow quarterly open enrollment periods.  Both situations assume that there are no State laws that set the timing and duration of open enrollment periods.

Question #3: How often must an issuer in the individual market provide an open enrollment period for children under 19?

A: Unless State laws provide such guidance, issuers in the individual market may determine the number and length of open enrollment periods for children under 19 (as well as those for families and adults).  The Administration, in partnership with States, will monitor the implementation of the pre-existing condition exclusion policy for children and issue further guidance on open enrollment periods if it appears that their use is limiting the access intended under the law.

Question #4: How do these rules affect existing enrollment requirements in States that already require guaranteed issue of coverage for children under 19 in the individual market?

A: If a State requires continuous open enrollment or requires issuers to maintain an open enrollment period of a particular length or open enrollment periods of a particular frequency, then the State requirement will apply.  The State law is not preempted by any current federal requirements.

Question #5: “Premium assistance” programs allow States to provide payments to help people eligible for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) enroll in private coverage.  Won’t the policy to ban pre-existing condition exclusions in new plans for children lead cash-strapped States to steer high-cost children into individual market policies for children as a way to limit their own liability?

A: Federal law prohibits Medicaid and CHIP from denying children coverage based on their health status.  Moreover, it limits the extent to which these programs can provide payment to support coverage in individual market policies.  “Premium assistance” programs in CHIP allow States to provide payment to private policies to cover children if doing so both protects children and is cost effective to the Federal and State governments.  Premium assistance is not designed as a strategy to transfer vulnerable children to individual market coverage.  The Administration will enforce its current policies on premium assistance and consider new ones if evidence emerges that children with pre-existing conditions are being diverted inappropriately from Medicaid or CHIP to private insurance plans that newly offer guaranteed issue to children regardless of their health status.

HHS will not enforce these rules against issuers of stand-alone retiree-only plans in the private health insurance market.

Question #6: Some issuers have expressed concerns about adverse selection from newly offering child-only health insurance on a guarantee issue basis, and have asked for clarifications of what they could do, consistent with the current regulations, to mitigate this concern?

A: A number of actions have been suggested by insurance commissioners and insurers to address adverse selection in child-only policies.  The following actions are not precluded by existing regulations:

  • Adjusting rates for health status only as permitted by State law (note: the Affordable Care Act prohibits health status rating for all new insurance plans starting in 2014);
  • Permitting child-only rates to be different from rates for dependent children, consistent with State law;
  • Imposing a surcharge for dropping coverage and subsequently reapplying if permitted by State law;
  • Instituting rules to help prevent dumping by employers to the extent permitted by State law;
  • Closing the block of business for current child-only policies if permitted by State law; and
  • Selling child-only policies that are self-sustaining and separate from closed child-only books of business if permitted by State law.

In addition, some States are considering legislation that would require individual-market issuers that offer family coverage to also offer child-only policies.  This approach could increase the options for families with healthy as well as sick children, and would lower the risk of adverse selection.  The Administration would welcome this and other State actions that ensure access to health plans by families with children and prevent adverse selection in the market.

Question #7: In some States with guarantee issue, to limit adverse selection, open enrollment periods are set for a particular time of the year, required to be used by all issuers, and, in some cases, are the only time when issuers can sell policies.  Would the Administration consider adopting such a policy?

A: As clarified earlier, issuers and States can already choose to use open enrollment periods consistent with existing regulations.  To require a uniform open enrollment period for child-only policies would require a change in the existing regulations.  The Administration would consider making such a change if it would result in issuers continuing to sell child-only plans.

India Adoption Grant

I have posted about waiting children with HIV in India. Thanks to RainbowKids for the link to M. Night Shyamalan Foundation’s MNSF India Adoption Grant. Here is the info from the website:

MNSF India Adoption GrantAdopting from India

The M. Night Shyamalan Foundation (MNSF) believes that a loving family is the birthright of every child. We hope to bring particular attention to the orphans of India and aim to facilitate their passage to a better life. We provide grants to U.S. citizens residing in America who seek to adopt children from India. The purpose of the grant is to alleviate financial obstacles to international adoption. Grants are provided to families who establish that they are eligible to adopt a child from India, are capable of providing a safe, loving, and nurturing environment for a child, but for whom the costs involved in the adoption process pose a demonstrable burden or barrier to an adoption. Only families with a gross annual income of less than $100,000 are asked to apply. Due to limited resources, the foundation cannot guarantee that all qualified applicants will be funded. Grant approvals as well as decisions regarding the amount of the award will be determined solely by the Board of Directors and will be based on funds available, the applicant pool, and applicant qualifications.