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Reuniting with Birth Family: How to Search for your Biological Relatives

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Adoption in the United States is much more common than people think. According to the US Census Bureau, one in every twenty-five families with children have adopted. Around 2% of the people have adopted, but more than a third have considered adopting a child. 100 million people in the United States have direct contact with adoption in their immediate family (either adopting themselves, being adopted, or placing children). In recent years, there is a tendency of more openness to the topic and somewhat between 60 and 70 percent of adoptions being “open” which means that there is some sort of disclosure between parents and children about their adoption.

A lot of people that figure out that they were adopted develop, at some point in their lives, the interest or need to know who their biological relatives are. For some, it is about knowing where their roots are or understanding why they could not be taken care of, for others is about the information on medical predispositions or conditions. Others might want a fresh start or build new connections for their children. For many, this can be a stressful and very emotional process. Here you can find a very helpful guide to help you by delineating some of the most effective ways to search for your biological relatives.

1. Prepare yourself emotionally and be aware of the reasons why you start the search

This first step should not be overlooked since reuniting with biological relatives can be very intense. It is recommended that you hear experiences from other people that have gone through the same process. The Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) offered a very interesting webinar that goes in-depth into the preparation process. It might be also useful to reach support groups. The Child Welfare Information Gateway offers a directory of state-specific groups. Of course, relying on emotional support from friends and family will also be essential in this process. 

2. Gather existing information and existing documents

After making sure that you have devised ways for protecting yourself emotionally, it is time to get to the practical matters. Where to start? The very first step in the process is gathering all the information that you have about your biological relatives. The specific means you will need to use will depend upon the information that you already have.

You should start by reaching to your adoptive parents and ask them about information about the adoption agency. Documents that might be useful will be any hospital records and your amended birth certificate.  An amended birth certificate is issued after an adoption is finalized and puts the names of the adoptive parents instead of the biological ones. Several States in the USA provide access to original birth certificates which could provide you the valuable information about the name of your biological parents. In case that your state is not one of those that directly gives access to your original birth certificate, you can appeal to a court petition. In general, it is very advisable to get acquainted with the most important State Laws concerning adoption and access to records.

3. Develop a Search Strategy

Depending on the amount of information that you have at each point of your search, you will want to make use of one of the following search means. Some of them only work if you have the names of any of your relatives or at least someone that you know had contact with them.

–             Register at reunion registries

There are several organizations that offer “reunion registries”. Passive registries (or also known as mutual consent registries) will help connect both parties only when both sides registered. Although it is a long shot, it is usually worth trying this means since this service is usually free of charge. Active registries are organized by private groups that will help you look for your biological relatives for a fee. The Child Welfare Information Gateway offers a useful search tool.

–             Search through social media

The internet offers entirely new ways of communication and interaction. Now almost every person in the United States uses the internet on a daily basis. We all have different accounts and profiles that will be useful if you want to find someone. Try all possible combinations of the information that you have both for your relatives and for the people you think might have some information on them. For example: name, name + birth city, name + school, name + workplace, name + degree of education.

–             Do a background search

Whenever you have the name of any of your biological relatives or of anyone that knows the, doing a background search is a very efficient way of finding a lot of information at once. For example, Nuwber offers the possibility of getting a full report with all publicly available data on a person which will include marital status, history of addresses, criminal records, business records, information about their workplace, evictions, and records on bankruptcy. This extra information might be very useful in the next step, where you will want to develop the right strategy to approach your biological family.

–             Hire a professional

Whenever you cannot find any information that will help you start your search, the only thing left is to hire a professional person or group. Although they will ask for a fee, they usually rely on their experience to find relative in situations where information is scarce. For example, Search Angels is an organization that seeks to help you find your family using methods like DNA testing.

4. Design an appropriate way for first contact and reunion with your biological relatives

After going through the process of searching and once you have concrete ways of contacting biological relatives, it is very important that you take some time to decide on the most appropriate ways of contacting them and reuniting with them. In general, before meeting in person, it is generally advisable to contact them either online or through telephone. A meeting in person carries a bigger emotional load.

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ADB, JICA to Strengthen Collaboration to Help Asia in Fight Against COVID-19

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Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Shinichi Kitaoka today reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen collaboration to assist ADB’s developing member countries (DMCs) in their response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“ADB and JICA have a long history of collaboration and partnership in a number of key areas including supporting DMCs to accelerate progress toward achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and cofinancing on quality infrastructure,” said Mr. Asakawa. “COVID-19 poses serious health, social, and economic threats to the region. It is important that we find ways to enhance our collaboration, including cofinancing, to help developing member countries address the pandemic.”

In their call, the two presidents discussed the economic and social status of Asian and Pacific economies in the wake of the pandemic and their organization’s respective assistance packages.

ADB announced a $20 billion assistance package on 13 April to address the needs of its DMCs as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The package includes $13 billion for quick and affordable budget support to help DMCs counter the severe macroeconomic impacts arising from the pandemic with countercyclical expenditure with the focus on the poor and the vulnerable. Some $2.5 billion of the package is available as concessional and grant resources, and about $2 billion is earmarked for loans and guarantees to the private sector to rejuvenate trade and supply chains. ADB will expand its technical assistance to DMCs in designing, improving, implementing, and monitoring health and other sector actions against COVID-19.

JICA is preparing a COVID-19 crisis response emergency support loan program to strengthen countries’ capacity to respond to COVID-19 and revitalize economic activities in those hit hard by the pandemic. Its assistance will be provided as standalone loans or cofinancing with multilateral development banks, including ADB.

ADB and JICA have a strategic partnership to cofinance $10 billion in quality public infrastructure investment between 2016 and 2020. The two organizations also established in 2016 the $1.5 billion Leading Asia’s Private Sector Infrastructure (LEAP) Trust Fund to promote private financing for infrastructure development, including through public-private partnerships.

The two organizations are also collaborating at country and regional levels in the areas of health security, UHC, and specific health issues concerning the elderly under a partnership signed in May 2017.

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New $25 Million Support Will Help Djibouti Grow its Economy and Improve Access to Services

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved on May 29, 2020, two new projects totaling US$25 million in credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s arm for the poorest countries. The new financing will help Djibouti address vulnerability, foster inclusive economic growth and improve service delivery. 

The first operation, the US$15 million Economic Management and Statistics Development for Policy Making project, will support the Government of Djibouti to fill data gaps, improve the quality and reliability of key official statistical products and processes, make data more accessible and enhance dissemination practices, and contribute to strengthening the institutional and technical capacity as well as the infrastructure of the National Institute of Statistics of Djibouti (INSD).

High-quality data are critical to measure progress in growing the economy, reducing poverty and fostering shared prosperity,” said Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Minister of Economy and Finance, in charge of Industry. “Djibouti took a major leap and placed itself at the forefront of the open data agenda, but more needs to be done to ensure statistical data are current and updated regularly in order to make the right decisions. Our public policies must impact the daily lives of our citizens and therefore must be based on reliable data. To succeed, we will make a qualitative leap by using the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data.”

Addressing data deficiencies has the potential to drive better decision making and lasting change. In Djibouti, the lack of reliable data remains a critical roadblock to the country’s understanding of poverty, welfare and economic developments. This operation will support the long-awaited Population Census, the first ever Economic Census, preparation of national accounts and a program of economic and household surveys to update statistics and produce data in a sustained manner. 

Through this project, we will gain a better understanding of the economic situation in the country and help support evidence-based planning and decision making that better meets the needs of the population, including vulnerable groups,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti.

New waves of displacement from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen have further exacerbated Djibouti’s already fragile public services. Moreover, most recently, the crisis of COVID-19 and the locust outbreak have resulted in significant public health and economic impacts, threatening food security and livelihood opportunities.

In response, the additional financing of US$10 million approved today under the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project in the Horn of Africa will help address these vulnerabilities. The operation will improve access to social and economic services so that the country can adapt to the changing context and create economic opportunities for both refugees and the communities hosting them. The project will also include a Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC) to support Djibouti’s emergency preparedness and response capacity.

The burden of displacements falls largely on host countries,” said Boubacar-Sid Barry, World Bank Resident Representative in Djibouti. “Our program will help Djibouti strengthen economic and social conditions in areas welcoming refugees and assist both refugees and host communities.”

The World Bank’s portfolio in Djibouti consists of 14 IDA-funded projects totaling US$209 million. The portfolio is focused on education, health, social safety nets, energy, rural community development, urban poverty reduction, modernization of public administration, governance and private sector development, with emphasis on women and youth.

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Greater investment in clean, secure and sustainable electricity systems amid Covid-19 crisis

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Energy ministers and electricity industry CEOs from around the world took part in a roundtable discussion today about the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the electricity sector and the need to mobilise investments for secure and sustainable power systems. The high-level virtual meeting was co-hosted by the International Energy Agency and the Government of the United Kingdom.

The discussion focused on the implications of the Covid-19 crisis for investments in the power sector that are needed to support clean energy transitions, as well as the opportunities for international co-operation and collaboration. The participants recognised the critical importance of the electricity sector in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic to keep essential services running, hospitals open, and communication flowing. They applauded the efforts of electricity companies and their employees in keeping the lights on despite the health risks involved.

Participants included 11 government ministers and 9 company CEOs, representing 5 continents and 60% of the global electricity system. The discussion was co-chaired by Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth. The list of high-profile attendees and a link to the Chairs’ Summary can be found below.

“Resilient electricity systems are vital for modern societies today and for a sustainable energy future, but they need much greater investment,” Dr Birol said. “It was highly encouraging to see so many global energy leaders focused on this critical issue today. The IEA’s World Energy Investment 2020 report this week highlighted that global investment in the power sector is set to fall 10% this year, compounding previous declines. The drop in investment in electricity grids, an essential but often overlooked part of the shift to cleaner energy, is set to be even steeper. Renewables like wind and solar won’t be able to fulfil their great promise without robust infrastructure that reliably delivers the power they produce to consumers.”

Today’s roundtable discussion on electricity systems was one in a series leading up to the IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit, which will take place on 9 July.

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