Reunion and DNA Reconnection for Adoptees and Adoptive Families

Why use Beteseb Felega’s Databases?

Omo Lake, around Dawro

We are the only legalized organization of any type focused solely on reuniting Ethiopian families separated by international adoption. We are honest. We are 4 people working our butts off to provide solid, ethical resources to adoptees and Ethiopian families who are searching and in reunion. Those 4 people are Andrea, a full-time volunteer in Kansas, and 3 professional Ethiopian social workers working in different languages. We are a legal NGO registered in the state of Kansas and Ethiopia. We have high standards. This is more than just ‘a job’ for us; it is our heartfelt mission to provide Ethiopian adoptees with their own personal pre-adoption history!

As a small, volunteer organization, we are busy. At any given time, we are working with a number of people at different points in their process. As we have grown, we have tried to streamline our workload as much possible so that we can move more quickly. We ask for your patience; we are doing our best with challenging tasks. As people who stepped up to address the vital issue of roots search and reunion, we occasionally take the emotional brunt for the damage caused by the problematic system of adoption. We did not create the tragedy of family separation and loss through adoption. In fact, some of us are in the same boat as many of you. We ask that you understand that we are volunteers doing our best.

Who can work with us?

We work with adoptive parents of minor children and adult adoptees. We can work with adoptive parents or spouses of adult adoptees with explicit permission from the adoptee. We strongly recommend that adoptive parents share the information gleaned from your search with your children at least by the time they are 18, if not immediately. It is their own information, after all. We follow up with adoptees when they are adults as much as possible if we think maybe the adoptive parents withheld information.

Verification – What happens when you find your family in our database?

When a lost family member or adoptee is found in our online database or our DNA project, it is a cause for joy! However, intercountry adoption reunion is also emotional and logistically complex due to culture and language. And, there are many falsifications in what information is provided to both sides during an adoption. Our goal is to help everyone, the Ethiopian family and the adoptive side, start their renewed relationship off on the right foot. We want you to have the best possible outcome for your reunion. Verification is paramount for cases from our adoption database that are not already backed by DNA.

This means we do more than swap phone numbers and pictures.

Yalo area around Dawro

Can I have more information on such-and-such Ethiopian family post?

Many people write to us and ask to “see pictures” or “have more details” of Ethiopian families who are searching on our database. Privacy of Ethiopian families is important and not all information we have from them is posted online. Data withheld might be placement documents or information that could put an Ethiopian mother in danger. It can also expose intimate adoptee details. We discourage having information floating around with different people, as it represents the very personal information of an individual adoptee and both their families. Therefore, we require that you send evidence that the family you are asking about has a strong chance of being your birth family. Evidence can be a photo, a document from your adoption mentioning something identifiable – the family member names, orphanage, and so on. We will use the information you give us to vet the situation.

Take your time to look in your documents, review photos, check your memory, and so on; after all, the Ethiopian family took their time to list with us, and we took the time to work with them, host the website, and post their information. Do not expect us to send phone numbers and photos kept offline without confirmation of a chance of familial relationship.

Understanding that not everyone has their documents or knows much about where they came from, if we cannot verify via the normal channels but you feel certain a specific family is your family, you can sign up for a Family Visit and we will do DNA. You must cover the costs for this.

We will work with you to verify things; however we don’t send photos and deeply personal details on a whim.

Do you match us up if we are in the database?

We don’t have the time to do that, and it’s not automated. Searching the database for your family is something you must do. You can search for Ethiopian families in our database whether you are in the database yourself or not. Surely someone will think, “Why not automate it? or “Why don’t you check?” To that person we say, please fund it and we will do it! Everything we already do takes all our time and more.

We’ve Verified Everything. What Happens Next?

Farming area around Dawro

Next comes an update for your Ethiopian family! We deliver a letter from you with photos that will serve as an update for your Ethiopian family. Why do we insist on this? Because the Ethiopian family searched for you and they desperately want to know you are alive, at least. In your letter, you can ask questions and tell them as much or as little as you want. You can send two photos or thirty photos. If a letter is hard, a few photos will be fine.

Next, one of our social workers delivers that information to your family, and they will be SO HAPPY!!!!!! While we are there, we’ll spend time with them. We’ll interview them, get their life story, family history, adoption story, family member names/ages/relationship to you, health status, economic situation, jobs, educational background, and so on.

We provide comprehensive, detailed reports for adoptees which include their family’s history, their adoption story narrated by their family, messages, videos, a minimum of 200 photos, and all contact information plus social media accounts available for your family. You will receive a report of the visit shared privately with you in Google Drive. Initial reconnections are done this way because people obviously cannot immediately jump on a plane (though some do!).

Culturally Informed Services

Boat ride, Dawro

We provide you with a FAQ (frequently asked questions) containing information about how to stay in contact, find an adoptee therapist, and more. In the FAQ we address potential cultural conflicts that may arise and expectations your Ethiopian family may have when reunited with you. We are also available to adoptees by phone.

We give your Ethiopian family information about what life is like in western countries. We try to share some idea of what your life may be like and explain how you may react differently than they expect after years apart, living in a different culture. We broach the dreaded money issue and more.

Follow Ups

Finally, we provide follow-up to this reunion process. Were new questions generated by the report? Write them down and we will call to get answers for you. Is your Ethiopian family asking you for money and it is upsetting you? We will talk to them. Are they calling you 24/7? We can explain western phone usage expectations to them.


For 10 years we have offered these services at no cost to anyone. Early on, we envisioned a “pay it forward” system where people we helped would donate to the project. Sadly, that has not happened, and we are unable to keep up with costs.

The actual cost for these database services is anywhere from $400-$800 depending on the location of the birth family. If a person were not utilizing our services, the search cost would be much higher.

We must cover the costs of our databases which include outreach, interviews, travel, website, managing our databases, social worker salaries, Ethiopian family DNA kits when needed, etc. A one time fee of $300 for adoptive parents and $150 for adoptees enables us to recoup the costs we have incurred and helps the next person who is searching. There are no fees for Ethiopian birth families. For those who want to participate in an ongoing manner, we have a private donor group.

To Conclude….

Yalo area around Dawro

Our goal is to provide you with a solid foundation on which to enter into your reunion. Our intent is to save you the time and money of having to vet and hire someone to get your basic questions answered. If you are an adoptee and don’t want an ongoing relationship, which is your prerogative, you will still receive a solid history from the perspective of your Ethiopian family. Our process is not the fastest because, well, it takes time to vet every situation, visit your family, and write detailed reports. But we do believe it is a good way. Swapping phone numbers without any translation or cultural support is like leaving you in the water without a floaty.

If we have provided you with these high quality services, we would appreciate your support in any of the following ways:

Donate! Set up a recurring monthly donation for us! You’ll light up our lives every month! Help us stay alive so we can provide more adoptees with their stories. This project us about more than one individual reunion. Pay it forward for the next guy and the health of the organization and our mission! Donate here. Join our Monthly Donor Group. We’d love that! Check it out here.

Share your experience with others, give us a thumbs up! Instead of telling people “We found our family,” tell them “Beteseb Felega found our family!” Because, you know, it’s sad being left out.

Are people asking you to help reunite them or their friends when? Support us by forwarding those cases to us so that we can provide those people with excellent services too. This keeps our social workers “in work,” which is no small thing. We cannot exist without our social workers.

Want to donate but can’t right now? Do a Facebook fundraiser for us. If everyone we’ve helped did a Facebook fundraiser for $100 per year, we’d be fully funded! It’s simple, just click here.

We are reliant on community support to continue. The roads are rocky out there!

Thanks for reading and we hope you find your family in our database!

DNA Database

Ethiopian Adoption Search Registry Database