U.S. Residents Increasingly Adopting HIV-Positive Children From Abroad, AP/Google.com Reports

U.S. residents increasingly are adopting HIV-positive children from abroad, according to figures from the U.S.-based Adoption Advocates International, the AP/Google.com reports. Figures from the organization indicate a "clear and steady rise" in such adoptions -- the majority of which are from Ethiopia -- from two in 2005, four in 2006, 13 in 2007 to 38 either completed or pending this year, according to the AP/Google.com. Numbers from the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia confirm this trend, the AP/Google.com reports; however, its figures are slightly different because it counts adoptions according to fiscal year, reporting that U.S. residents this year have adopted 25 HIV-positive children from Ethiopia, up from seven the year before.

According to the AP/Google.com, although most HIV-positive children are being adopted from Ethiopia because it is a well-established adoption "hub," countries including China, Ghana, Haiti and Russia also have seen increases. The numbers remain small -- fewer than five HIV-positive children in each country this year, according to U.S. adoption agencies that work with HIV-positive children -- but the figures could be higher because many nations do not ask if a child being adopted is living with HIV/AIDS.

Ethiopian adoptions to the U.S. peaked at 1,255 in 2007, and the adoption of HIV-positive children is growing in step, according to U.S. government figures, the AP/Google.com reports. U.S. adoptions in Ethiopia have risen steadily from 135 in 2003 to 289 in 2004, and from 440 in 2005 to 731 in 2006. In addition, none of the children adopted through AAI in Ethiopia since 2005 has died, and the oldest is now 13.

Margaret Fleming, founder of Chances by Choice, said that her group has overseen adoptions from Haiti, Guatemala and Russia and that it has helped bring about 52 international HIV-positive adoptions since 2002 from various agencies and countries.

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said HIV-positive adoptees pose no public health threat in the U.S. In addition, Congress is set to repeal legislation that requires HIV-positive people to obtain waivers to enter the U.S. For adopted children living with HIV/AIDS, the waiver requirement can increase the nine- to 12-month adoption process by about two weeks.

Leavitt said, "The American people are compassionate people," adding, "I applaud their compassion and I'm delighted to know they're doing so" (Powell, AP/Google.com, 9/1).

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