Vulnerable Children

The children of AHOPE praying at an adopted child’s farewell party.

Last week I came home from vacation to the very sad news that another child at AHOPE had died. I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that three AHOPE children have died in the span of one month. Maybe it should be obvious that children with HIV who live in Africa are vulnerable and sometimes they die, in fact they are dying at an alarming rate. The thing is, these children were among the most fortunate HIV+ orphans in Ethiopia, if there is such a thing. They were in an orphanage that provided them with food, clothing, medication, education, security, and a “family” of sorts. If three of our little ones at AHOPE can become sick enough to succumb to an opportunistic infection, complications of measles, and in this case, a severe bacterial infection, think of the children who have nobody to care for them. How can they possibly survive?

This little girl, who shared the name of our sweet B. was approximately five years old. She had gone to the hospital with impetigo which apparently became systemic and her body could not fight it off. The staff thought she was getting better, but she was very tired and went to sleep. She never woke up.

To add to this tragedy, Little B. had a ten year old brother who loved her very dearly. I was told about him by a friend how had the opportunity to witness him lovingly care for her when they were able to visit each other. He is in an orphanage for children who are not HIV+, so the two of them were unable to live together. I am sure that he is grieving deeply for Little B. – she was all he had left in the world.

I have to wonder what would have happened if these three little girls had been adopted? Would they still have succumbed to these illnesses? It doesn’t seem likely that in the United States, where we have such excellent and accessible medical care, that even a child with HIV would die from complications of measles and a bacterial infection. Yes, children with HIV die, even with good care, but we have so much at our fingertips – Children’s hospitals with Infectious Disease specialists, emergency rooms, choices of ARV medications, good food, clean water, and a level of health and abundance that is unheard of in Ethiopia.

My heart is heavy, for Little B.’s 10 year-old brother, for the staff of AHOPE that is recovering from the shock of another loss, and for the children of AHOPE who have already suffered so much loss in their short lives.

What can we do? How do we deal with the fact that children are dying every day in Ethiopia? How do we care for the HIV+ orphans who are incredibly vulnerable? If we are followers of Christ, we are commanded to care for widows and orphans of the world. I don’t see this as optional. Adoption is an answer for a small number of these children – a number that I am excited to see growing incredibly quickly. It seems that several times each week I hear from another person who is interested in adopting an HIV+ child. However, adoption is not the answer for all of these children, so we need to think about how we can help the ones who remain in Ethiopia.

Of course, as the Development Director for AHOPE, my desire is to see more people supporting the children of AHOPE. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help, you can visit our website at One of the most significant things you can do is commit to sponsor a child. Although we are always seeking large donations, sponsorship is the backbone of our budget and is what keeps our two orphanages and our Child Development Center running.

Do it for the children, do it in memory of Little B., do it because it is a good and wonderful thing to do. And if you feel called to adopt one of these precious little ones, cast your fears aside, educate yourself, and take a leap of faith along with so many other parents.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. MLB
    May 27, 2008

    Beautifully written, Lisa! Your words always inspire me.

  2. Brianna Heldt
    May 28, 2008

    What an amazing post! Truly inspiring. And what a precious picture. Such precious children.

  3. Michelle Riggs
    May 28, 2008

    That is heartbreaking. I will be praying for all of the children.

  4. SupermomE11
    May 28, 2008

    I love you Lisa!!!


  5. Sherry
    May 29, 2008

    Such sad news. Again. My prayers will be with her brother and the other children at AHOPE.


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