A Bay area family adopted two boys from Ethiopia against all odds

11:34 AM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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North Port, Florida - There are several reasons families decide to adopt a child. But a Bay area family's decision truly gave two boys a chance at life. Their goal is to stop a stigma and save lives.

There are thousands of children who are in need of a forever family. But these children's chances were much slimmer than most.

Amanda and Michael Nunez always knew their home would be full of children. Even after having 6-year-old Ilana and 3-year-old Aydan, their family didn't feel complete.

So in August of 2012, they adopted 4-year-old Mikiyas and 1 and a half-year-old Eyob from Ethiopia.

"So many people say that we've changed their lives and we're such big blessings to the boys, when really, it's the other way around. I mean, they've changed our family so much," says Amanda Nunez.

Amanda and Michael didn't just change these boys' lives. They saved them.

Mikiyas and Eyob live with HIV.

Their days start with three medications each. They'll take them again at night.

"There are 4 for Mikiyas, 3 are HIV meds and 1 is for his heart. Eyob has 3, then he just got on one for an ear infection," says Amanda.

It's one reason Eyob's birth mother gave him up. She couldn't care for a baby with HIV.

After Mikiyas' mother passed away, he was abandoned by his father.

"He had been in the orphanage for three years watching children after children leave with a family while he stayed there and waited and was constantly overlooked because he had HIV," says Amanda.

But that's one reason Amanda and Michael looked at Mikiyas. Their decision to adopt children with HIV came from prayers. Their love for Mikiyas started with a picture.

"The moment we saw the picture, you just know. God puts this little feeling in your heart saying, he's yours," says Amanda.

The feeling was right. The boys fit perfectly. Eyob is walking, Mikiyas is learning English and they're both eating just about anything you put in front of them.

But there are moments when Mikiyas struggles.

"He called himself yucky. He didn't know how we could love him, he'd say 'no love me, me yucky, me yucky. Me HIV, me yucky. 'That's something that will carry on in the years to come, but less and less. But we're open about it and we reconfirm to him that we love him and it's not yucky," says Amanda.

People also have questions, especially about whether they're putting Ilana and Aydan at risk.

"We can eat and drink after them, we can hug them, kiss them, change their diapers all of that without any fear of getting HIV," says Amanda.

Their doctor will tell you the same thing. The boys see Dr. Jorge Lujan-Zilbermann every three months.

"It's completely safe to live with them and around them. They can go to school and have a completely normal life. The only thing is if there is any injury or blood exposure, but that would be for anybody. You would follow Universal Precautions you would use gloves and things to protect yourself."

At the visits, they have their eyes and ears checked, their medication dosage adjusted and blood drawn, Eyob's least favorite part.

They also get the reassurance of a healthy life.

"At this point, we don't even tell you the life expectation because a lot of these kids, well they're not kids anymore, they're adults living a completely normal life," says Dr. Lujan-Zilbermann.

That's the future for Mikiyas and Eyob, thanks to a family who gave them a chance.

"I don't think our family is done adopting. "Yea." That's our purpose for our family is to adopt and give a chance to kids who don't normally get a chance," says Michael.

To learn more about adopting children with HIV, click herehttp://www.westsandsadoption.org/