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    I have HIV and I want you to know it: Selah Twietmeyer Stomps Stigma

I have HIV and I want you to know it: Selah Twietmeyer Stomps Stigma

Our own Selah is featured on Today.com in this post.

‘…The only thing that released me from this prison of shame was when I was adopted. There was no segregation. There were no secrets. I learned about the ways the virus is contracted and how it was not. I was relieved to find out it wasn’t spread via chicken bones (I like chicken). ”


Read more by visitng Today.com


By |October 6th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments|


We at Project HOPEFUL support fundraising for adoptions because we understand that many families do not have sufficient funds to adopt without help.  We believe that the God of the universe will help people who are taking a leap of faith to give a child – or children – a family.

To that end, Project HOPEFUL established the Families in the Gap Program (FIG Program) to help families raise funds for adoptions.  The FIG Program allows families or advocates to open a tax-deductible fund for a waiting child who meets Project HOPEFUL’s mission (children with HIV/AIDS and other children overlooked for adoption). All donations to this child’s fund will be tax deductible and will be used for a family to adopt this specific child.  You can use a FIG fund to raise money for your own adoption or to help another family.  In either case, funds are earmarked for a specific child and will only be used for that child – never returned to a family.

Since families who are fundraising for an adoption can be met with questions (at best) and criticism (at worst) during the fundraising phase, here are a few things for families to prayerfully consider when deciding whether to establish a FIG fund with Project HOPEFUL:

Should we fundraise or fund the adoption ourselves?

What resources do you have that you could use to contribute to the adoption of this child?  Do you have savings or investments?  Do you have extra resources?  Do you have items you could sell or repurpose?
What resources does your extended family have that they may be willing to give to the benefit of this child?  If you are expecting a large cash gift at Christmas or a birthday, for […]

The Sisterhood IS Love

News from our Director of the Hope + Sisterhood in Uganda continues today with this message:

Today I cried.  You know those full body, all over, really ugly cries.   Yes, that was me.  Let me tell you about it!

Yesterday we gathered with all the sisters….old and new.  Our hope is that the sisters from the first round would be able to encourage the new sisters entering the program.  I wasn’t prepared for the feelings I felt when I saw them all sitting there waiting for our arrival.

As the van pulled up and we began to exit, the women started clapping and jumping and shouting.  When I ran to great them, I could feel my emotions begin to well up to the point that I couldn’t contain it.  I literally felt my body collapse into one of the sisters.  It was too much.  But too much in a very, very good way.

We sang.  We prayed.  We danced.  Sisters shared their testimonies about what God has done in their lives.  One sister shared about how she had never felt loved by anyone in her entire life until she entered the sisterhood.  She encouraged the new sisters to be strong and to be wise with their finances.   She told them not to give up hope.

We distributed letters and photos to your sisters and the smiles on their faces were radiant.  Sisters who could understand and read English translated for those who could not.  They looked at your photos and their eyes lit up.  Most of them simply couldn’t believe a woman on the other side of the world was willing to walk along side of them and bring them hope.

We are re-working our Uganda program so that the […]

Hope + Sisterhood — Uganda

Hope + Sisterhood Director Dawn Patterson is currently in Uganda leading a group of women who were excited to meet their Ugandan sisters who participate in the Hope + Sisterhood program!  Today she writes the following:
It would be impossible to put into words the transformation in the lives of the women in the Sisterhood program.  Where I once only saw sadness, anger and despair…..I now see HOPE.  I see joy.  I see transformation.

It’s amazing how God can multiply the financial support given through the HOPE+ sisterhood.  Your gift of $45 a month has been multiplied into hair salons, retail stores, poultry rearing, cattle purchases, tailoring shops, and more.

God asks us to care for the least of these.  Read Matthew 25:40.  Read Isaiah 58:10.  Read Proverbs 28:27.  Read Luke 3:11.  Read Proverbs 31:20.  Read Galatians 6:2.   Go ahead…do it now!

If you feel God tugging on your heart strings to love one of these women from the other side of the world, please email dawn@projecthopeful.org.  We are going to have many sisters available that need YOUR love, support and prayer.

Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome

So what’s it like to parent a child with Down syndrome? How long do you have to read this article? Because I could probably fill a book with the myriad of answers to this question. So for the sake of blog etiquette, I’ll keep it as succinct as possible.

My personal experience only goes so far. Our son, Kirill, was adopted from a Russian institution at the age of five and he’s been home with us for 2.5 years. So a lot of our experience has been influenced by the neglect and trauma of living in an orphanage for the first five years of his life. Our experience is vastly different from many of our friends who have biological children with DS, or who have parented their adopted children with DS from birth or soon after.

First, let’s talk about the medical stuff because people are always concerned about that. Kirill doesn’t currently have any additional health complications that sometimes accompany DS. However, we had to do a lot of testing to rule out any of these common issues AND we had to do a lot of interventions and therapies (still do) to help him learn to do many age-appropriate skills. Medically, we had special X-rays of his spine in case there was any sign of instability, extensive heart testing to make sure there were no issues there, and a swallow study. At first, Kirill couldn’t swallow normally and we had to thicken all of his foods and liquids to make sure he didn’t aspirate on them. We worked with a speech therapist and an occupational therapist on swallowing skills for a few months and these issues quickly resolved for him.

Kirill also had a lot of […]


I am “for” adoption.  I think we established that in my last post.  But as I referenced there, I’m only for adoption when adoption is necessary.  The last resort.  Sometimes. 

I’m FOR families.  And first families are, well, the FIRST families.  I believe that birth mothers are due deference.  I believe that wherever possible, they have the inherent right to parent their children.  We do not.  I’m not at all threatened by appropriate deference to birth mothers.  After all, isn’t that how God designed it?  We birth children who we then parent.  It’s kind of the natural order of things. 

But I don’t think that means there isn’t a place for adoption and I don’t think it means that adoption is “unnatural.”  To the contrary, I believe adoption is a necessary piece of God’s plan in this fallen world.  Sometimes, the last resort must come into play.  Sometimes, we do get to support a child who has no one else.  Sometimes, we have the incredible opportunity to love as our own the child of another woman’s womb.  The question is:  when is “sometimes”?

In the United States, sometimes happens in the Foster Care system when a court of law has determined that two parents are unfit to parent.  Once parental rights are terminated, those children are orphans under the law and need parents.  The child did not do anything wrong in this situation; parental rights are not terminated because a child is a delinquent.  Typically, bad things have happened and no amount of intervention has righted the wrongs; new parents are needed.  Sometimes, arises in the foster care system.  Would you consider being the answer for a child who needs parents in our foster care system?

In private […]

Pearls, anyone?

A post by our FIG director, Traci Heim:

I’ve been thinking about orphans lately.
Shocking, I know.
I talk often with people about all aspects of adoption, and cost is something that always comes up.


So today I’m thinking about orphans and cost.

I will tell you that cost is a widely misunderstood concept; most often because its scope has been minimized to something as inconsequential as dollars and cents.

As in: How much does the typical adoption cost?

In monetary terms, one could say that the average eastern European adoption of an HIV+ child lands right around $24,000 to $27,000.

Is that it?
Is that the cost in its entirety?

I recently heard a TV evangelist caution people considering adoption to “count the cost.”
He eluded to mental illness, sexual abuse, and behavioral issues as things to very carefully consider. It was clear that he considered it far to high a price to pay; the underlying message was that in his mind, these children weren’t worth the cost.

Here’s the thing.
He wasn’t wrong to identify those areas as areas that cost something.
They do.
Where he was absolutely wrong was in assuming that the price was too high.

The true answer to what an adoption costs is:




What we all need to understand is that every person,
every child,
every orphan
is worthy of the cost.

We know this because Jesus paid for our salvation with his life.
How can the redemption of someone else not cost us the same?

He died to redeem us.

In adoption, we live to redeem them.

Matthew 13:45
The kingdom if Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all he had and bought it.

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said suffer little children, and […]

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    I know why you THINK you can’t adopt or be involved in foster care….

I know why you THINK you can’t adopt or be involved in foster care….

A post from one of our staffees, Jenny Clark:Orphan Sunday 2013. (On this day last year, I announced on my blog that I was officially starting the process to adopt a child with Down syndrome. I would have NEVER imagined that a short 71/2 months later that baby would be born and become mine.) I know why you think you can’t do it, because I used to think it too. And I know why we think that way. One reason is that we have convinced ourselves that we are not “called”. Our Western churches teach us that we are required to show up for church each week, and give money to support that church. We are required to be “good people” so we can make it to heaven. The rest, we are told, is based on “being called”. No need to go on a mission trip if you are not called. No need to help the poor unless you feel called. No reason to reach out to widows if you don’t feel called. Worst of all we have been taught that we can spread the Gospel just by our actions or inviting someone to church. If you don’t feel called to open your mouth and spread the Good News, then that is cool. Leave it to the missionaries and the preachers who feel “called” to share the Gospel. That mindset is where I believe our attitude towards adoption and foster care was born. It is optional. It is not my problem unless I feel called. Leave it to the people who do feel called. The second reason is very simple. Americans have an idea of what […]

Through Tears…..

A post from Dawn Patterson, Director of Hope + Sisterhood, Uganda.

As much as I love Uganda and truly do long to be there….life in Uganda is hard.  Very hard. Days are long and the work is never done. Most families don’t eat dinner until 8:30 – 9:00 at night and rest…..I don’t know that there is a word for rest in Uganda.

One of our beautiful HOPE+ sisters has cancer. I met Sarah for the first time in January 2013. She is a precious woman with 4 beautiful children. She lost her husband to AIDS in 2005.

We got to see Sarah again in September when we visited her. She was very weak and we were told she had cancer.

But she still had the sweetest spirit about her.

Sarah had a hysterectomy 2 weeks ago. This was done at Mulago hospital in Kampala. I have never heard anything good about this hospital. Apparently, her brother and sister sold whatever possessions they could to come up with the funds to have the surgery. They didn’t ask for help or funds…..they didn’t even share that Sarah was having the surgery. I don’t know why but I suspect it was because they didn’t think there was anyone to help.

Today, my dear brother Richard spent the day at the hospital fighting to get Sarah the blood transfusion she has needed for two days. We have a good friend who is a nurse who just happens to be in Uganda and she went to meet Richard at the hospital to help assess the situation. Here is her message to me after her visit:

“OK. Just left hospital. She does not have uterine cancer, she had cervical cancer. Typically surgery fixes cervical cancer depending […]

Hope + Businesses!

It’s hard to put into words all that we have seen and wrap my head around how such a small financial gift for 6 months can literally change a life forever.
We visited several of our sisters’ projects.  I was moved to tears more times than I can count.  The joy that radiated from these women is indescribable.  I was so proud of each and every one of them.  When I hugged them, I didn’t want to let go.
Edith has a hair salon and it’s amazing.  Annette actually constructed her store HERSELF.  Juliet grew her small road side stand and is now working from a beautiful store.  I could go on and on.  And when I have reliable electricity and more internet, I will probably do that.
Please, please, please consider being part of this amazing program.  You will be blessed beyond words and you won’t regret it.
This is what redemption looks like.















Hope + Sisterhood Trip to Uganda

I’m having trouble putting this trip into words.   They joy has been overwhelming but the sadness has been so deep.    This morning started with a precious woman who was very malnourished because she chooses to put her son in school and sacrifices meals to do that.  She is a trained laboratory technician but she can not get work because of the stigma that surrounds HIV.  She loves the Lord and has the light of Christ in her eyes.  This afternoon, I had a woman ask me if I would take her HIV+ baby and adopt her because she feared she would not live long enough to raise her.   In between these encounters were moments of joy, celebration and singing.  We visited many sisters and their successful projects.  They are thriving and so unbelievably grateful for the support they have received.  One sister very proudly told me that she was able to purchase eggs….this is a big deal because eggs are very expensive.   When we gave the sisters {just} 2 kilos of beans they erupted into song and dance.  While the moment was filled with joy I couldn’t help but ask myself the question:  have I ever been that grateful for anything?   Much less, food???  We’ve had the opportunity to share the Gospel with two Muslim women.  We’ve received news that two sisters who were Muslim have accepted Christ.  One sister shared her son’s medical certificate with me that showed he tested negative for HIV, because of the medicine she takes!  She was beaming!!



These women are amazing.  Their faith is inspiring.  Their sadness compels me to action.  I believe in this program more than I can ever put into words.   The HOPE+ sisterhood isn’t just changing the lives of women in Uganda….it is changing me.




If you are interested in becoming a sister, please email me […]

The Radiance of HOPE

She’s come a long way baby…..
This.  THIS is what hope looks like.




When we first heard about Noreen, her situation was dire.  Because of her HIV, her family disowned her.  They kicked her out of the shack she was living in.  She and her children were homeless and hungry.  A friend of a friend reached out to Project HOPEFUL to see if we could help.  Noreen was living in Kampala and was no where near our other sisters but we knew we had to help.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”  James 4:17

It wasn’t going to be convenient or easy….and it didn’t exactly fit our program parameters….but that didn’t matter.  Noreen needed hope.  A home was provided for Noreen and she began receiving medical care and was improving.  But because she lived in Kampala, it was extremely costly to provide for her and her children.  We began to pray for a solution.  I contacted my dear friend Richard from Mukono and asked if he would visit Noreen.  Richard works closely with our HOPE+ sisters in Mukono & Lugazi but had never met Noreen.  After visiting her, he was broken.  He didn’t even make it home before he pulled off the road and called me.  He said “Dawn, we must do something.  I feel we need to move Noreen & her children to Mukono so that she can be cared for and her children can attend school”.  Before I even knew it, her children were being enrolled in school (FREE OF CHARGE), renovations were being made to a home owned by the ministry Richard is involved in for Noreen to live in (FREE OF CHARGE) and plans were […]

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