Operation Reunite

Providing Support and Understanding to Vietnamese War Babies

Adoptee DNA Project

Section 1: Organization Information

Name of Organization: Operation Reunite 501 (c) (3) since 2003

Phone Number: 609-992-7196

Contact Name: Trista Goldberg

Contact Title: Founder, CEO

Contact E-mail Address: Trista@operationreunite.com or tristagoldberg@earthlink.net

Contact phone number: 609-992-7196

Section 2: Key Project Information

1) Project Title: Operation DNA and Database Project

2) Category of project for which you are requesting support (CHECK ONE)

X Other (describe): The beginning of a revolutionary international DNA database for adoptees.

3) Type of project

Community event
X Other project or program support

4) The Idea. Please provide a 3-4 sentence summary of your project.

Operation DNA is the vision of reconnecting Vietnamese Adoptees with the past by using a DNA database that applies science to human interest. Many adoptees have been told once that he/she had biological siblings, but they have been unable to locate them through official (adoption agency and/or government records), or unofficial (social networking, etc) channels. Operation DNA’s goal is to create a DNA database of Vietnamese adoptees to aid in the search and potential discovery of sibling and other biological relationships amongst members of this community.

Examples of answers that DNA testing may provide:

  • Search for siblings and relatives
  • Ethnicity confirmation
  • Parental roots

5) Who benefits, and how? What community will benefit from this project? What are the challenges, issues, needs or opportunities that your project will address?

(3-5 sentences)

Operation DNA will initially benefit the Vietnamese Adoptee Community; however, it will ostensibly lay the groundwork and blueprints for other adoptee communities to build similar databases of their own for future generations of adoptees to come. The databases are all based on individual willingness and the ability to build preference into the system so the adult adoptee can have a choice of what kind of connections they want while maintaining the ability to change those preferences over time. The DNA element will provide answers to a group of adoptees who have a lot of questions about their past and have been unable until now to get the answers that are so necessary for emotional growth and healing. This database will help change the often secretive way society views the adoption process and help us to explore these issues with openness and support. The adoption community will no longer wonder “Who am I? Where do I come from? Who were my parents? Do I have biological siblings?” Biological families will have ways to connect if the time is right for everyone.

6) Objectives, goals, and results. What are the measurable objectives and goals for the project? How will you document your project and share results?

(3-5 sentences)

  • The development of a revolutionary DNA and general information database, for Vietnamese adoptees, to find siblings and birth family, and to generally reconnect with each other as well, will be complete by April 2010 for the reunion in Vietnam.
  • 90%-100% of 40 reunion participants will take part in the DNA collection database in Vietnam in April 2010.

The end result goal is to set up a physical database using the standard in the Web industry for database driven websites. The database will support a website where data entry forms can be created and adoptees can enter their own information directly into the system as opposed to having to email it to an administrator to enter manually. In addition to using this database for searching, DNA matching and the other ideas, one of the first projects is a geographic data visualization that plots all Vietnamese adoptees on a global map so that members of the community can see exactly where the Diaspora has settled over the years, either by way of adoption or even personal migration. The DNA database just needs funding for start-up costs and then it will continue either through additional donors or individuals funding their own DNA test. The database will be free for all to use since it’s based on the willingness to fill out the forms and submit the information.

Section 3: Additional Project Information

7) What is the time frame in which your project will take place?

The DNA database planning stage has already begun and has consisted of gathering and dispersing information to various organizations willing to share and collaborate to create a database to heal and provide hope. Design and development of the user interface for input and data display will start in November of this year and the launch of the interface is scheduled for just prior to the reunion in April of 2010 in Vietnam. This is when adoptees from all corners of the globe will reunite in Vietnam and take a DNA test to find the background of their genetic make up and see how the scientific world can help these courageous adoptees find peace and connections with in our own group and beyond. Eventually, the tests will expand into locations around the world so that adoptees can enter information and any mother or father that lost a child to adoption during the Vietnam War can enter data. The database can simply match DNA, much like the police do in utilizing fingerprint databases. We will also be able to link together possible siblings to join this circle of healing. We feel that the shame of past mistakes do not have to paralyze us and we can all find forgiveness through this process of discovery and joining.

8) What is the full estimated budget for this project?

The budget is broken down as follows:

  • Cost per DNA test for an individual = $400 @40 adoptees
  • Initial costs to set up database, including a database designer and developer’s time, and hardware = $4,000
  • Total estimated budget = $20,000

This project will continue to grow and gain recognition to influence new ways to harness the bio chemical information within all of us. We invite you to be a partner in our purpose to help adoptees of a war-torn era find meaning and peace after thirty five years.

9) Are there any other details you would like to share regarding this project?

Operation Reunite is one of a select few emerging organizations that is dedicated to bringing about awareness of this special community of adoptees, who have now reached maturity. The organization offers a broad range of services including: providing support and understanding to adoptees as they explore their history and culture, assisting adoptees with their searches for surviving biological relatives, and offering a networking platform for adoptees to reunite with their orphaned cohorts.

Eventually, we believe that DNA tests will be taken at birth as a nationwide or international database to track adoptions, criminals, lost people, and to ID people.

We have aligned ourselves with a high level DNA contact who is a renowned expert in her field. Marie Claire King has been able to reconnect children with their birth mothers in Argentina and we are confident that we can do the same with the right support. Ms. King first applied her genetics skills to human rights work in 1984, when she and her lab began working with Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo) in Argentina to use dental genetics to identify missing persons, ultimately identifying and returning to their homes more than 50 children.

Operation DNA will provide answers to adoptees about their past; answers that are necessary for emotional growth and healing. Adoptees whose diverse backgrounds are a testament to their resilience and their ability to live inspirational lives in their community and beyond will change the way we deal with adoptions. We also anticipate interest from international media which can result in news, radio and television stories. The BBC is willing to do a documentary series to follow the stories and see how the interconnect creates understanding of our migration of existence and creates deeper connections with our peer group, adoptive family, birth family, new family through marriage and eventually our children. Our children are our disciplinarians through this journey of self discovery. We can understand our history and better explain it all to our children someday.