This week our founder Carolyn Tweitmeyer and her daughter Selah were on The Doctors.  The show was taped a few weeks ago but aired all over the country on Monday.  The segment can be watched in full at The Doctors site  and we encourage you to watch it.

The title of the segment was “should a child’s HIV status be a secret?” and we believe that decision is a very personal one made by the family.  There are both pros and cons to disclosure.  Jenn M. another guest during the segment and author of, “My HIV Child is Playing With Your Child” has chosen not to disclose.  She is afraid of the impact it will have in the way that others treat their family, specifically her daughter who is positive.  Paige Rawl author of Positive a memoir talked about finding out and sharing her status causing others to bully her through school. Selah and Carolyn talked about being open about the status with family and friends because of the shame secrecy might bring.  Selah said it was a relief that she could be open about it growing up.

Although the segment featured the question “should HIV be a secret?” we all have common ground raising children with HIV, both parents that disclose and those that don’t.  We all love our children  and we want the same thing for them and others living with HIV;  we want a stigma free environment.  We all want to be able to say HIV and not have others flinch.  We all want to be able to openly talk about living with a chronic condition like talking about cancer or diabetes, because in truth living with HIV is easier than those except for the stigma […]

Know Thy Enemy

We have been a foster and adoptive family for a little over 10 years now.  We have six beautiful children.  With this decade of experience, I have come to know that I know a little about a little and I’m an expert at nothing.  This has become invaluable to me as a parent of children who are HIV positive.

When we adopted our first child who is HIV positive, we made the decision to live a very open lifestyle about HIV and our family.  We are what you might call a “disclosure family.”  That is, we have chosen to disclose the status of our HIV positive children.  Since making that decision, we have received nothing but love and acceptance from our family and close friends.

On a few occasions, however, we have been met with some rejection due to those three little letters.  Project Hopeful asked me to write about the instances where we felt some discrimination based on HIV in hopes of providing further education on the disease. 

A couple of years ago, I enrolled our children in a private swim school for swimming lessons.  Because the owner of the school did not have current information about how HIV is transmitted, she would not allow my children to enroll.  Before you get too angry at the owner, she is a very kind woman who was willing to sit with us and discuss HIV.  After our discussion, she even held a meeting with all of her instructors at the school in order to provide education to them about HIV.  We were asked to and did lead this meeting.  We distributed current information about HIV from the Centers for Disease Control website.  Some of the swim instructors’ parents […]

My child has HIV and we choose not to disclose

Like many families parenting an HIV positive child, we echo commonly-heard statements that it’s very easy as far as special needs go.  Our son from East Africa contracted HIV at birth, came home to us as an older toddler and now is 7 years old.  He’s doing great, and we are so thankful.  He’s our healthiest child out of a few bio and a few adopted!   The issue that has taken the most energy from us so far, is disclosure–weighing a zillion factors, thinking a zillion thoughts, thinking about our son’s growing-up years, considering the amount of ignorance/stigma in our nation, city and smaller circles (our kids’ school, etc.).  There are endless factors that a family must weigh, and no two situations will ever be identical. Where any one family falls on the disclosure spectrum is highly personal and highly unique to that family’s situation.  My own disclaimer is that I completely understand the pros and cons of the various levels of disclosure.  I am friends with people on all ends and all over the middle of the spectrum and recognize the unique factors that have led each family to the decision they have made.

All that said–our disclosure decision that I’m writing about is simply an account of why we chose what we did, because I was asked to do so by Project Hopeful.  We are what some people call a “non-disclosure” family.  I do not believe that being private is the best option for others–the best option is simply what is best for that particular family!

I consider our family private on HIV status, for now.  We have disclosed our child’s HIV status to close family and a few select friends, and we’ll keep […]

HIV/AIDS Adoption: Teen Selah Twietmeyer Gives Her HIV Adoption Testimony

In this powerful new interview, HIV/AIDS Infected teen Selah Twietmeyer, daughter of Kiel and Carolyn Twietmeyer tells how she was adopted from Ethiopia into her family and talks about disclosure.

“I am not ashamed and not afraid to tell the Truth”, says Selah. She also tells how stigma and misinformation about HIV/AIDS effected her while she was still in Ethiopia, before she knew she had a family who loved her. An incredible testimony!  Please share this message by reposting this link http://youtu.be/sRxDRzZxDbI .


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.

    [dih-sklohz] verb, -closed, -clos·ing, noun

verb (used with object)

1.to make known; reveal or uncover: to disclose a secret.

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 […]