World AIDS Day

2003- E October, 2003. I stood at the kitchen counter tearing open an envelope from our adoption agency Adoption Advocates International, unaware that inside was a picture of my daughter. We had just begun paperwork in September, and expected our wait for a child would be months. When I saw a picture of a little girl standing in a crib, I honestly thought that there’d been a mistake.  But no.  She was being offered to us.

And so began our journey parenting orphans from Africa. The part of the world hit hardest by HIV/AIDS. We brought our new daughter home in January of 2004.

Emily and Mary

This picture was taken just a few weeks after she arrived.  I don’t know if you can see her little hand on my ear at the top of the picture, but I can still feel her precious little arms wrapped around my neck, and remember the speed and warmth with which she embraced me as the new momma in her world. What a gift she is to me.

Age 7

Today, World AIDS Day is a good day to remember the children around the world, especially in Africa, whose lives are being devastated by disease.  Have you read the book There Is No Me Without You?
If not, I hope you will consider either buying it, borrowing it, or checking it out from the library. If you already own the book, maybe you could think of someone to loan it to. It powerfully and compellingly tells the story of children in need. Children whose lives could change if we were willing to see their need and do something.

Compassion International has a program where they assist families who are dealing with AIDS. AHOPE is a home in Ethiopia founded by my adoption agency for kids who are HIV positive. These days many of those kids are finding families.

HIV is a death sentence to a person getting by on a dollar a day in Africa. In the US it is a chronic, manageable health condition, one that doesn’t put family or friends at risk. My adoption agency, Adoption Advocates International, has been a leader in finding families for HIV+ children, getting them adopted into families, where all children belong.

Not everyone will choose to adopt an HIV+ child. (We didn’t, in case you are wondering.) But adopting a healthy child also lessens the burden of agencies striving to meet the needs of children in 3rd world countries. Sponsoring a child through AHOPE or COMPASSION is another wonderful way to be a problem-solver in this world. Supporting missionaries like my sister Sophie is yet another way to make a difference.

Together, we can.

(If you only have time to watch a bit of the below youtube video, begin at the 2:50 mark.)


  1. Wow, thanks for sharing that clip of Bono’s speech. That was true and beautiful (as is your daughter).

  2. YES!!! I read “There is no Me Without You” and I loved it and quickly passed it on to my friends that I knew it would touch. One of those friends went on to adopt a sibling set of two from Ethiopia soon afterward.

    I’m hoping God has something in the cards for me regarding orphans. I will continue to wait and see.

  3. Mary:

    A friend and I, both mothers of 3, were just talking today about adoption. I mentioned you and the 6 children you had adopted on a modest income and told my friend how much you inspire me.

    I know that you do what you with a motive of obeying Christ and being faithful to His call – not to inspire others. But thanks for inspiring others just the same. (I don’t just mean through adoption either; I mean through intentional parenting, diligent home-tending, joyful large families, and the like.)

    I blogged about you, and others like you, and my hope to emulate you through adoption one day at

    Keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

  4. As we wait to see if we pass court on Friday for our two beautiful Ethiopian children my heart is heavy with the knoweldge of how much need there is for people to open their hearts to these children. I truly wish I could adopt them all. This is a wonderful post on so many ways people can help. I am definitely going to link to this.


  5. Yes, I have read that book and it did inspire me to adopt another child. It truly is a life changing book. Adoption is wonderful but not the only way to help, as you said, gifts of time and money can come in many forms.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this!


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