Here is a very thoughtful post about how one family made a very personal choice about the issue of disclosure. Lyndsay Boulton is our State Associate for California and the mother of five children, one of whom is HIV+. You can also find this post at the Boulton Family Blog.
2.to cause to appear; allow to be seen; lay open to view: Inspring the violets disclose their fragrant petals.
Disclosure is a very personal decision. We prayed and sought God, and other wise counsel before making our decision. We do not believe that disclosure is the right answer for every family.
Unfortunately there are people, specifically in the Church, that believe that disclosing HIV status is an act of selfishness, as if those who choose this path are trying to make themselves out to be martyrs. Would people say that about someone who disclosed Cancer, or Diabetes, or ADD or Autism? What special needs are OK to talk about, and which ones are unacceptable? And why? Why is HIV in a different category?
It is in a different category because of ignorance and shame.
This is very disheartening. I believe it is our job, as the Church, to be the LIGHT to the world, to allow ourselves to be seen, to reveal or uncover darkness and discrimination. I can’t imagine Jesus telling me to cover up or lie about my child’s condition because of other peoples ignorance or cruelty. I don’t remember Jesus or the Apostles telling His followers to cover up or lie so that they wouldn’t have to deal with peoples cruelty or trials. In fact when I read the Bible I read just the opposite. (James 1:2)
Is this the easiest road to take? Definitely not! Am I putting my child at risk of being ridiculed or ostracized- probably. But all of my children are at risk of that because their lives look a lot different than the rest of the world! Being adopted can also set our daughter up for ridicule, and so can having a different color of skin, but I can’t protect her from that. Should we have decided not to adopt an African child because she might be ridiculed? Was she better off living in an orphanage without a family? I’m sure some people think so, but not us! Not the Church!
We, as the Bride of Christ have already failed the HIV/AIDS community. We shamed them into hiding, labeling their disease as a punishment for their ‘sin’. In our ignorance and fear we turned them into the ‘lepers’ of our generation. And guess what? If Jesus were here today who would He be hanging with? And so if my life is supposed to look like His, than do I really have another choice?
It is our job to be the ones to turn this around. To stand up for the HIV/AIDS community and say we love you! We love you with the love of Christ.
Because we have decided to be honest with our daughter and her condition, and have decided to educate others around us instead of hiding in shame I have had some amazing opportunities to spread TRUTH and LIGHT.
A few weeks ago I had a mother of one of my sons friends call me. Her son wanted to come over to our house and play. She knew about our adoption and knew that our daughter was HIV+. She wanted to know what that meant for her son, if he were to come over and play in our home. She was very gracious and was a little embarrassed about her lack of knowledge. I was SO thankful that she called. I was able to answer all of her questions and ease her fears. I was able to direct her to more information if she wanted to read further. I hung up the phone and just bawled and thanked God for that opportunity! Her son and mine have become great friends, and she is in love with our daughter! She appreciated how open and honest we were, allowing her to ask the questions.
Yesterday I received another phone call from a family member who lives in another state. One of his coworkers had found out earlier this week that her son is HIV+. He called me so that I could talk to her and answer her questions. She was devastated. She thought her son was going to die. I was able to share with her the facts. She was so grateful. I was able to encourage her, and now she can encourage her son.I would not have had either of these conversations if we had chosen a different route.
I am fully aware that there will be days where this might feel more like a burden than freedom, but that is when I will give it to God, because it is His to carry, not mine.As Christians, can’t we just support each other in the ways that we hear and respond to the call of God in our lives?
1 Corinthians 10:29-33
For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.