The three secrets of Mercedes have to do with three different people, but with three identical letters.
First secret Mercedes's brother consumed heroin and died of AIDS in 1992 . The mother never revealed to uncles and neighbors the cause of death.
Second secret Mercedes's partner contracted HIV in 1997. When people asked him about the physical deterioration caused by those medications, Pedro never told the truth of his illness. Not even today.
Third secret It has to do with an obsession and with the desire to become a mother again. Mercedes begins the process in 2006. He travels with his partner to Ethiopia. Pass all interviews. And finally he adopts Ruth on July 27, 2008 ... You can imagine it: he had brought a daughter with HIV to Spain.
«Until the day came when we had to tell him. And ask him to keep the secret. 'We adopted you because your birth mother had HIV. You have the virus, but you are not sick. ' We talked to him about prejudices and that it was our [third] secret: he shouldn't tell anyone. We talked about people's ignorance.
Spain is an international power in adoption of children and four years ago it was the third country in the world that processed more applications. With one caveat: children infected with HIV. Only a dozen families choose a HIV-positive minor each year to share their life.
That is why this choice is so exclusive and that is why we bring it here. A marriage beaten by HIV before citing ignorance and lack of information as the main causes of today's HIV stigma.
Let's clarify again.
1. A person on HIV antiretroviral treatment is a person with a chronic disease.
2. A person who has been on antiretroviral therapy for more than half a year has an undetectable viral load , which is equivalent to saying that he has a non-transferable viral load.
3. A person who takes medication daily is a person who can live a normal life.
4. Ruth is one of them.
« We wanted a girl like that because nobody wanted her. We were looking for a la carte, but a bad letter. These children are not on any waiting list. No one was going to claim my daughter, because in theory she was not adoptable.
Neither Mercedes is called Mercedes, nor is Pedro called Pedro, nor is Ruth called Ruth. If you miss some data, you will understand.
The triple secret comes to the case because if they showed their faces here, if their names were known, if their exact summer place was located; if all that happened, we say, the worst part was the village pool in which he is taking a bath right now - let's say - Ruth.
«I see her playing her 12 years in the water with her friends. And I always ask myself the same question: if those parents knew what my daughter has, would they let their daughters play with ours? That is the question I would ask people .
In the world there are 2.1 million children with HIV, 90% in the African continent , according to United Nations data. That's why Pedro and Mercedes - who have another twenty-two-year-old biological son - looked over there.
The truck driver and the administrative knew much more than the rest of the matter.
For example: things like if a baby that is born infected is not treated with antiretrovirals before the age of five, that baby can die.
For example: the difference between being alive or dead depends on the three daily intakes of a drug. The syrup that Ruth has been drinking since she arrived with a year and a half.
"That was the first thing his brother asked us about Ruth when we told him. That if his sister was going to die. 'No, for God's sake, he won't die. He just won't die because he is with his treatment', we told him. So everyone happy. Living in the invisibility, on the dark side without being able to tell, but happy . "
I always say that there are seropositive, seronegative and 'seronolosé'; we must focus on the latterToni Poveda, director of the HIV and AIDS Coordinator
It was hard to find the right ECAI. An International Adoption Collaborating Entity that would propitiate what they were looking for. And then - having overcome all the requirements and for having told them about that orphanage in Addis Ababa with which the entity worked.
AIDS and Africa. Those two concentric continents.
In those years when they went to Ethiopia, there were almost 17 million orphans because of AIDS in the world, mostly in the African continent. One of them - without suitors, with her inherited HIV, discarded - was going to end up being her daughter.
What they saw The boys and girls shortlisted for adoption were sent to a transition house, a space where they were prepared for their departure. With a cruel exception: if you were HIV positive, you were returned to the orphanage. That place Ruth never left.
"They were children that nobody wanted," Mercedes explains. "That's why the director hugged us crying when we said goodbye when we adopted Ruth. He told us: 'In the 25 years of the orphanage, she is the first girl with HIV to leave ."
"From the orphanage we went straight to the hotel," recalls Pedro. "And it lasted only one day in the crib. The next day we already put her to sleep with us. That girl needed to touch skin."
A kiss here to a stranger. A handshake over there to a friend. A hug to the father.
The fact is that he must continue to need skin because Ruth cannot be more sociable. He has had several opportunistic diseases (those that take advantage of the low defenses caused by HIV), the optic nerve of the right eye is very damaged for the same reason, he is dyslexic, he suffers an attention deficit disorder and is fatal, but fatal, in the school.
But what they want me to say: there are outstanding collectors who are much less alive than her .
Not all children to adopt have to be perfect and healthy babies. There are those that have more urgencySusana Morales, president of Colored Families
" In the collective imagination there is a belief that people with HIV transmit the virus and it is not like that. Those who transmit it are those who have HIV and have not been tested . I always say that there are HIV-positive, seronegative and seroneal. ; we must focus on the latter, "says Toni Poveda , director of CESIDA, the State Coordinator for HIV and AIDS.
"The Spanish are people in solidarity with donations, catastrophes, with everything. If you do not adopt children with HIV, it is due to lack of information. You have to tell them that, by adopting them, they save a life. And that child, here, with free medicines , will make a normal life. "
Since HIV is not a must-do disease, everyone can remain calm with Ruth in the village pool.
First it was telling her, of course.
He learned recently. He had already been interested in the meaning of the word "sidoso", which is what a child said in school when he wanted to insult another. Then one day he asked for the first time about the reason for that syrup they gave him three times a day.
They told it in their own way. "It's so you don't get bad."
The medical specialist told him: "The syrup is an army you take to defend yourself from attackers."
And that's it. Again to throw yourself in the water.
Susana Morales is a lawyer and president of Familias de Colores , an entity dedicated to the international adoption of children with special needs.
" Not all children to adopt have to be perfect and healthy babies and the smaller, the better. There are other children who have more urgency . Our data says that less than ten Spanish families adopt children with HIV every year. developed countries. And this is because our administrations do not explain well that there is no problem and that HIV is the special difficulty that most orphans leave in the world, "he says. "I give you a piece of information: the example of the Dominican Republic. Adopting a healthy child from zero to three years has been on average for three years. Adopting one with HIV takes about six months. But no Spanish family wants them."
Adolescence is complicated. Imagine her case: adopted, black and HIV positiveMercedes, mother of Ruth
Dad takes three pills a day and Ruth does the same with her syrup. With discretion. At home. Away from visits, if there are any.
"The adolescence that Ruth will begin shortly is a complicated age. Imagine in her case: she is adopted, black and HIV-positive," they say . "When it happens to you, you see it. It is striking the solidarity that arouses childhood cancer, for example, and that is very good. But it contrasts with the stigma so great that it continues to generate HIV."
We ask parents how much this country has left so that the three of them come out with their true identity in a report like this, and nothing happens. They tell us a story.
Once upon a time there was a girl who was in a public school. A girl who was loved by the educational institution. Until in the center they knew that girl had HIV. They called the adoptive parents and they explained to the management what the science says. It didn't matter. They put the virus on the table as if they had caught the student with a drug paper. The director encouraged them to leave: "If this is known, there may be a disruption at school . "
We have a lot of homework in summer.
The pool is full of friends.
Ruth bombs herself.
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