I knew it was only a matter of time.
I just wish she would have talked with me first.
I still don't think she understands the enormity of what she casually rolled off to me today.
And I worry. For her.
Let's see if I can back up and explain...
Olivia and I had a "girls day" today. We usually do every three months; days when she needs to travel to Chicago for her routine HIV check-ins. Being in the clinic doesn't often take long, and we are typically out the door by 10am at the latest, giving us plenty of time to do some "fun" things together! (And now that she's older, that means SHOPPING!) Today we went to lunch and an outlet mall.
And at lunch she said it. Just nonchalantly, no big deal,
"Mom, on Friday I told XXXX that I have HIV."
Hopefully my jaw didn't drop too much. I've been waiting for this day. But I also really thought she understood what it COULD mean for her, and my biggest worry is that I don't think she does/did. I completely support her decision. I will always have her back. BUT, we did have a long talk about being prepared now, for whatever may come.
And very likely NOTHING will come of it.
I just really really hope and pray that that's true.
We've had SUCH wonderful support on this from all of our friends and family over the past four years since her adoption. Unless it was hidden from us, we've never had a negative reaction at all. And I also think that that lulls us into a feeling of safety. Unfortunately I've heard too many stories from too many other families who have lost family, church, friends, etc... all because their child has three little letters associated with them.
I've talked to Olivia the past four years about the fact that there is nothing "wrong" with her. That HIV is something to take seriously, but not something to fear. But that unfortunately many adults do still fear "it". I explained that HIV used to be something very different from what is it today, thanks to medicine and research. But over the last year or two we've gotten away from those discussions. I guess I assumed she "knew". And yet in talking to her today after she shared that information, I don't think she remembered a lot of what we discussed.
Yes, XXXX is a very good friend, this year (she's never known her before this school year). Yes, XXXX promised not to tell anyone. BUT, I told her you can't expect her to not tell her parents. No one should ever tell her something and then expect her to not tell me. And IF XXXX does mention it to her parents, it's THEM who we don't know and don't know how they will react. IF they react negatively, they could very well be on the phone with other parents, etc. We don't know. And, IF next week, or next month, or next year, if XXXX isn't a "friend" any longer, she very well COULD tell someone. Once it's "out there" it's there, you can't get it back. I explained all this and more. Not meanly, not negatively, but so that she understood. So she could prepare for anything. It's very likely XXXX will completely forget what Olivia even told her. But it's possible she won't.
I reminded Olivia about a "friend" she had earlier in the year. Earlier when she thought XXXX and another girl weren't as good of friends because this other girl had "skin like hers". And how Olivia ended up realizing just how bad of a "friend" this girl really was, and how she was then friends with XXXX instead. What if she had told this other girl? What now? You just can't predict the future.
So my heart is worried tonight. I KNOW I shouldn't be. But I am. We live in a small area. I am all for advocating and teaching others how so many have the wrong view of HIV and what it means. But I'm an adult. I can/could handle backlash from that advocating. Olivia's a 10 year old girl. A girl who is close to moving up to the middle school. Forming identity. And I know our school district. When Olivia was in kindergarten and our school nurse informed the district that there was now an HIV+ student in our district and that Universal Precautions NEEDED to be followed (not those exact words, put much better than am I now!) the teachers at the middle school were the ones to really "flip out". Maybe it's better now. Maybe they've learned it's not the worry they were making it out to be. But I don't know that that is true. And again, while I can handle that, how do children (because I think it would affect the boys too) handle it when some kids are told by their parents they can't play with/sit by/ etc my kids?
Maybe all for nothing.
But maybe not.
So we prepare our hearts and minds and words.