A Guilford County couple formally adopted a child infected with the AIDS virus Friday, ending a two-year struggle to make the 5-year-old a part of their family.

Jac and Liz Grimes' status as adoptive rather than foster parents will allow them to make final decisions on Robbie's education and medical treatment.Robbie got the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus from his 19-year-old mother at birth, as do about three-fourths of all children with AIDS.

His mother left him in the custody of Forsyth County social workers when he was 5 weeks old after authorities found the mother and child sleeping in a truck.

Robbie's father died while Robbie was living at Amos Cottage, the pediatric division of North Carolina Baptist Hospital. Robbie's mother died of AIDS last August.

The HIV virus affected development of Robbie's brain, leaving him with cerebral palsy, mental retardation and vision problems.

He spent much of his life in a hospital before the Grimeses heard his story.

When Robbie first came to the Grimeses' home on the Jamestown edge of High Point, he was almost 2 but seldom stood and spoke only a few words. He was still eating baby food.

Now he uses full sentences and can walk 15 or more steps without crutches. He's still a demanding child.

When the Grimeses added Robbie to their clan of four adopted or foster children, doctors told them his life expectancy was two to five years.

Now they say children born with HIV have an average life span of seven to 10 years.

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