The evening that I visited the Twietmeyers happened to be a big day for another reason as well. A major national policy change championed by Project HOPEFUL (along with EACH and other of our allies) officially crossed the finish line. I asked Carolyn for help in explaining the change, and this is what she shared:
International adoption of children with HIV/AIDS just got a lot easier! For 22 years, people with HIV have been prevented from obtaining a US visa, except under very limited circumstances and with additional paperwork and fees. For families adopting a child with HIV, this meant that after the long waits and processes to be approved to adopt the child both in the US and by their country of origin, the child still could not receive a US visa until the family had compiled more paperwork, paid more fees, and waited even longer to come home. Waiting children risked exposure to more health threats while waiting out this process. In 2007, Project HOPEFUL and Equality for Adopted Children successfully advocated to reduce the time to complete this process, but for some children even the shortened time frame threatened their lives. In 2008, the Congress passed and President Bush signed a bill that, in addition to providing HIV assistance to people all over the world, removed HIV as a legislatively mandated health condition prohibiting people from receiving a US visa (except under limited circumstances with special paperwork). Recently President Obama announced that as of January 4, 2010, people with HIV/AIDS will no longer be excluded from receiving a US visa. As a result, children with HIV/AIDS can be adopted and immigrate to the US without having to complete a special waiver of inadmissibility. Families adopting children with HIV/AIDS will no longer have to obtain additional burdensome paperwork, pay additional fees, and their children will not have to wait longer than healthy adopted children to come home to their loving adoptive families. Orphaned children with HIV can live long, happy, healthy lives with access to good medical care and loving families. This may be the perfect time to adopt an child with HIV/AIDS. If you need any help, information or support in considering adoption of an HIV+ child, visit the Project HOPEFUL website.