Welcome to this week’s Meet-Up Monday post.  This week we head to the Pacific Northwest to meet Laci, our State Associate for Washington.  Be sure to leave a comment and say hello!

PH: Laci, would you please tell us how you first heard about Project HOPEFUL?
LZ:
I met Carolyn Twietmyer in Ethiopia while we were there for our first adoption. Selah was with her and was so sick and I just remember being worried she wouldn’t be able to make it home. I started following Carolyn’s blog when I got back to the states so I could check on Selah’s health and that’s where I learned about Project HOPEFUL.

PH: How did you develop an interest in HIV advocacy?
LZ:
I became interested in HIV advocacy after bringing my daughter who’s HIV+ home and being treated very badly when a group of people found out about it. I realized that when people don’t know the TRUTH about HIV, they will fear it and where there is fear sometimes there is a lot of anger. I wanted to join Project HOPEFUL in spreading the TRUTH.

PH: Could you share with us your own adoption story?
LZ: 
In July of 2008 my husband and I went to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter who was 9 at the time. While there, we met her family including her older biological sister who was HIV +. I hate to say it, but I was actually relieved her sister was not available for adoption then because I just “knew” there was no way I’d ever adopt a child who was +. I thought I’d be putting my other children and myself in danger.
After about a year of being home though, I just couldn’t get her off my mind. I’d followed Carolyn’s blog and seen how healthy Selah was now that she’d been home and was receiving lots of love and good medical care. And I thought just maybe adopting a child with HIV might not be such a dangerous thing after all.

We prayed and God made it clear that this precious girl whom I’d feared because of her HIV was my daughter and we needed to bring her home. Of course we searched the internet and spoke with doctors and other adoptive parents and the more we found out about HIV the less of an issue it became. My daughter has been home a little over a year now and is happy, healthy and thriving. I cannot imagine our family without her.

PH: What about Project HOPEFUL are you the most passionate about?
LZ: 
My daughter told me after a few months of being home that after we brought her sister home to America she was very sick in Ethiopia. She wondered why we hadn’t gone back for her. It was so hard to look into my daughter’s eyes and admit that fear of HIV had been the reason she was sick and alone for so long.
I am passionate about Project HOPEFUL and the work they do because I don’t want any child to suffer through life sick and without a family soley because of people’s ignorance about HIV. I love being a part of spreading the TRUTH in love so that children like my daughter can be brought into families where they too can thrive.

PH: What do you want your fellow states-people to know about HIV adoption?
LZ:
That there is no reason why children who happen to be HIV+ should be waiting for a family just because of their status. That HIV is absolutely NOT easily spread or a threat to anyone living in the same house under normal circumstances. And that once you’re child is home, the HIV becomes such a non issue you’ll wonder why you ever worried about it in the first place!

Thank you, Laci! We love your passion for the TRUTH!
If you’d like to contact Laci about events in Washington, you can contact her at hopefulinWA@gmail.com .  To find an associate in your state, visit http://www.projecthopeful.org/ .