Photojournalist Jen Mosher was tired of the loneliness and stigma around having HIV-positive children. So she decided to pen her feelings in a frank essay about her motherhood experience.
Mosher, who lives in the South and asked BuzzFeed News to identify her by her pseudonym, said adopting a child with HIV "ends up feeling sometimes like a version of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"
Mosher said she and her husband decided to pursue international adoption after she photographed an AIDS orphanage in Africa, but felt like she still wasn't doing enough.
She told BuzzFeed News:
After doing some research and talking with other families, we absolutely knew that we could do it and that HIV was a manageable chronic disease. We took a leap of faith and asked our adoption agency if there were HIV children available for adoption in China, and were told, 'Probably not. China has lots of HIV-positive children in orphanages but they are believed to be unadoptable so they do not make them available for adoption.'
In spite of this, the very next day, we got matched with our HIV-positive daughter, and then later, we also got matched with and adopted another amazing HIV-positive child.
Mosher added that it was thanks to an organization that works with HIV-positive children in China, Elim Kids, that her kids' lives were saved.
The hardest part of raising children with HIV, she said, isn't managing the disease, but the fear of the stigma causing exclusion from others.
But the unexpected surprise of having her story go viral – with the blog post receiving over 37,000 shares — has been a bright point in the experience.
"I was giddy from the relief that comes from authentically sharing your life," she said, adding that she ignored the few negative comments and focused on the thoughtful moms who gave supportive advice.
"They encouraged me, invited us on play dates, and made me realize that our tribe is definitely out there," she said. "They made my husband and I want to be braver."