Raising 7 Kids While HIV Positive, and Why It Takes a Village
November 15, 2014
Whitney Kyle always knew he wanted to be a father. Through a combination of adoption and foster parenting, he was able to see that come true -- with seven children! Now 65 years old, Whitney looks back at his time parenting, talks about his policies on openness and honesty, and discusses the three children who currently live with him -- and why they must all go to school.
This interview was conducted along with Brian Rosenberg, CEO of Gays With Kids. TheBody.com is proud to present this interview as part of a series of interviews with HIV-positive dads done in collaboration with Gays With Kids for World AIDS Day 2014.
Mathew Rodriguez: Whitney, had you always wanted to a father, growing up? Was that a role that you saw yourself having?
Whitney Kyle: It was, yes.
Mathew Rodriguez: What do you remember, when you were young, about wanting to be a father?
Whitney Kyle: I was aware that I was gay from an early age, but I still dreamed of being a father with kids. It was just part of the list of things I wanted in life.
Mathew Rodriguez: When you were first diagnosed as positive, after you dealt with everything that comes with your diagnosis, did you think about what it meant for your hopes of becoming a parent? Did that ever come into your mind?
Whitney Kyle: Actually, my partner and I were looking into adopting a girl from China. But then, when he became ill, that was postponed. We didn't know which direction it was going to go. And his health just went down.
By the time that I was diagnosed myself, with full-blown AIDS, I figured it was just not going to happen.
Brian Rosenberg: And, Whitney, you've been positive for about 20 years?
Whitney Kyle: Right. HIV for 20 years. But the AIDS diagnosis came in 2001.
I found out in '95 that I was HIV positive.
Brian Rosenberg: Well, I'd say that still makes you a trailblazer.
Whitney Kyle: Thank you.
Mathew Rodriguez: Can you walk us through, really quickly, how many kids you have, and what their ages are?
Whitney Kyle: I went through a total of seven kids, five of which became mine. But currently, in the house, I just have three. The first kid I got when he was 9 years old, and got guardianship for him when he was 13, and adopted him at 14. He's currently 17, and he'll be 18 in February.
Then the second kid I got was through Department of Social Services [DSS]. I knew her parents. Her parents were busted by CPS [Child Protective Services] and I went to court and got custody of her. And then I became a licensed foster parent.
Then my third kid was a friend of my two kids who was having problems with his mom. So I took him in when he was 14. And he's still here. He'll be 18 in June.
Then my fourth kid, I've known him since he was 13. He's a full gay kid. He moved in a year and a half ago. He's currently also 17.
And then I have one more kid who came into my home right after turning 18. He actually this morning flew out to live with his parents, because he couldn't find a good job here.
So those are the five. Currently at home are three 17-year-olds -- one gay, one bisexual, one straight.
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