Why I’m Not Hiding The Fact That My Child Has HIV.

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*Editors Note- This is a guest post from our good friend Michelle McKinney. She is an adoptive mother and blogger. She describes herself as an imperfect wife and an even more imperfect mom who decided long ago, "Why bring more kids into the world when there are so many here already who need forever homes?" She believes ALL KIDS deserve a family. Every single one. You can read her work with HIV advocacy by visiting thoughtsfrommichelleskitchen.com.

It’s a disease that comes with lots of stigmas and judgement: HIV. Even parents who’ve chosen to adopt children who are positive receive raised eyebrows. But the stigmas and judgement could not be further from the truth.

This month, my husband and I celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. This month also marks the 35th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS in our country. I never in a million years thought I would care 17 years ago. But I do.


We did not make this disclosure decision quickly. It’s heavy. It changes my children’s future. We spent a lot of time praying and weighing the benefits.

And for sure the consequences.

We’ve been told by nearly every professional NOT TO TELL. There are some really good reasons NOT TO TELL. For starters, it’s THEIR story. Not mine. And the pain it will bring from mean children IF we tell. Mean people. Mean parents. Parents are the WORST.

Oh, the pain.

But oh, the pain of NOT telling. The unnecessary fear that still exists in our society. The ugly stigma. The secrets. The aftermath if it gets “leaked.”

The shame.

I went to get financial help for very expensive medicine from a local non-profit behind the Stratosphere. Some might not get out of their car in this particular area. Even this adds to the stigma. I had an appointment with a nice, young social worker. There were posters, pamphlets, of course propaganda, and a candy jar full of condoms of every color in the rainbow sitting on her desk. I didn’t have my kids with me, but if I did, that “candy jar” would have been moved because of uncontrollable hands reaching for what they thought was sugar-filled yumminess.

“How did a girl like ME get here?” I thought with nervous bewilderment.

We made small talk. Then I told her we were thinking of disclosing. And without hesitation she said to me, “Oh you don’t want to do that! This city is harsh. I have an 80-something year old client who is so afraid someone will see him here that he won’t even park in the parking lot. He parks in the back of the office and I have to let him in through the back door. None of his friends or family know because of the ramifications.”

And in that moment, I made my decision.

No child of mine will EVER live life that way. NOT EVER!

Our family lives with HIV. LIVES WITH IT.


My youngest son REALLY didn’t get a good prognosis. Not only because he was malnourished and neglected, which is what I initially told everyone, but because he almost died of AIDS.


My child who brings me more joy than I ever imagined with his kisses and stinky breath, was months away from dying of AIDS in his early days of life.

So when we rejoice in his sheer joy and his groovy dancing because we were told he might not ever walk (and I admit sometimes he gets an extra piece of chocolate cake because those eyes get me every time!), we are weeping with pride and gratitude to…


So we can advocate as informed citizens and get little to nowhere. Or we can advocate and educate as parents of our amazing Dominican-born children and actually be heard.

There are just a few things I have to say now about this living with HIV thing…

  1. If people just stopped having unprotected sex and stopped doing drugs, IT WOULD GO AWAY.
  2. No need to be afraid of my kids. HIV is spread through very specific ways: unprotected sex, sharing of drug needles, birth and breastfeeding. So as long as our kids are not doing those things together, your kids will be OK.
  3. Medication keeps their viral load at “undetectable.” Translation: There is such a small amount of virus in their body, modern tests can’t find it. What this means to you: they are not contagious EVEN IF they are doing those above mentioned things.
  4. I’m FOREVER grateful for efforts made by non-faith based organizations. AKA, Non-Christians. Don’t publicly claim to know Jesus kind of people. People like Elton John, Bank of America and their Red Campaign. And the ULTIMATE reason prompting disclosure….
  5. Although I’m grateful for #4, I wish it was my church.

I want my kids to be loved, accepted and helped by THE church.

Where was the church in the 80’s?

Where is the church NOW?

The rest of world beat us.



You can help make the world a safer place for my kids and for the millions of others who experience stigma EVERY SINGLE DAY of their life. This momma is begging you. Please join us in educating and showing mercy to those living with HIV. Help give them a reason to WANT to live.

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This is what pops up on the screen when I get money out of the ATM machine. Still think it’s a gay person’s disease? An ugly stigma? A curse? You’re wrong!






No longer a slave to fear.

Have you faced judgement or misunderstandings when it comes to parenting children with HIV? Share your story with us.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.