Reunion and DNA Reconnection Process for Adoptees and Adoptive Families
Why use Beteseb Felega’s Databases?
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!
What happens when you find your family in our database?
When a lost family member or adoptee is found in our online database (or through our DNA project), it is a cause for joy! However, reunion is also emotional and logistically complex due to culture and language. Our goal is to help both sides, 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.
Who can work with us?
We work with adoptive parents of minor children or adult adoptees. We can work with adoptive parents or spouses of adult adoptees with explicit permission of 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. It is their own information, after all.
Can I have more information on such-and-such Ethiopian family post?
No, not yet. 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. Therefore, we require proof that the family you are asking about has a strong chance of being your family. Proof can be a photo, a document mentioning the family member names, and so on. We will use the information you give us to vet the situation
Take your time to look in your documents; 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 familial relationship.
If we cannot verify, through photos and documents, that the family is your family, but you feel sure they are, you can sign up for a Family Visit and we will do DNA. You must cover the costs for this.
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?” To that person we say, please fund it and we will do it!
So what happens next….
We’ve verified the relationships, pending DNA in some cases. This is getting exciting!
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.
Next, we deliver 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 will take 200+ photos and some video. We will get your questions answered. You will know who speaks English and who doesn’t, and more.
You will receive a report of the visit shared in Google Drive. Typical reports are comprised of a written document of 8-15 typed pages, 200+ photos, video, and all contact information plus social media accounts available for your family.
We provide you with a FAQ (frequently asked questions) with information about how to stay in contact. In the FAQ we also address potential cultural conflicts that may arise and expectations your Ethiopian family may have when reunited with you.
We also give the 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.
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.
What is the cost of this?
For the time being, the cost is free to users. We feel strongly that all adoptees deserve their history and they should not have to pay for it. Though we offer this as a courtesy, there are costs involved, which we cover. The actual costs for this service, done by trained social workers, is anywhere from $400-$800 depending on the location of the birth family. Bear in mind that a foot search would cost $800-$2000, and we have saved you from that sticker shock!
There are also hidden costs to our work, such as our website, our outreach in Ethiopia which allows us to have this database and get DNA, payment to our amazing social workers who work with our Ethiopian families, our time posting everything online, our time writing the reports and reviewing them in the USA office, the DNA kits, our overhead and operations in Ethiopia (training social workers, taxes and fees for legalization in Ethiopia, office space, phones, computers, internet service, the infrastructure we have created within Ethiopia that allows us to reach families, social worker travel to visit families, report writing, translations, etc.), our overhead in the USA (state fees, creating and maintaining the website, computers, fundraising, website tools, coders, legal fees, etc.), to name a few. Andrea is a full-time volunteer donating 50 hours a week 52 weeks a year for this project. This doesn’t happen without a whole lot of effort and funding (which we are desperately in need of).
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, because that is frustrating and tedious. 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 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 amazing pro bono 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! Donate 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. 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!