In partnership with the Mixed Roots Foundation, five deserving volunteer searchers receive cash grants and free Spokeo accounts for their work helping adoptees, or their families, search for one another.
PASADENA, Calif. (March 20, 2013) – The leading people search engine, Spokeo, with strategic partner Mixed Roots Foundation, announced the five deserving winners of the Spokeo Search Angel Awards. The winners are:
- - Joanna Eve Freitag, Cary, NC
- - Connie Lynn Gray, Austin, TX
- - Kari Lemons, Mountain View, CA
- - Kellie Walls Sharpe, Walland, TN
- - Mary Edna Wilson, Fort Worth, TX
Spokeo and Mixed Roots Foundation worked with a 12-member advisory committee representing the diverse adoption community to develop and raise awareness for a program to honor and support search angels who volunteer their time to assist adoptees and other members of the adoption triad (birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families), in searching for family members. Throughout the last two weeks of November, individuals across the nation submitted nominations online for deserving search angels who had touched their lives. The initial nominations were scored according to quality of the nomination and the impact of the search angel on the adoption community. Fourteen finalists were selected and asked to submit additional information about their work as a search angel. The final five angels were selected by the advisory committee based on their creative approaches to helping families and their passion and dedication to their work.
“Helping people reunite is core to our service at Spokeo. The work these individuals do to help make family reunions come to life is an inspirational use of Spokeo’s technology. We applaud the efforts of search angels everywhere, but are particularly proud of the ones we’re honoring today,” said Ray Chen, CEO of Spokeo. “We’re also grateful to our strategic partner, Mixed Roots Foundation, and all of the members who participated on the Spokeo Search Angels Advisory Committee, to make this program all the more rewarding. We look forward to many more programs that support search angels and families.”
“We’re so touched by the passion and commitment shown by these five search angels. The selected honorees represent such a diverse group of the people who have been touched by adoption. From adoptees, to birth mothers, to adoptive parents, these five search angels have dedicated themselves not only to their own searches, but to helping others find their own roots, which has helped so many with their healing process that comes from separation, to search and reunion,” said Holly Choon Hyang Bachman, founder and president of the Mixed Roots Foundation.
Spokeo Search Angel Award winners each received a cash grant to help offset the costs of conducting a search as well as an enterprise Spokeo premium account to serve as a staple search tool. The winners were also invited to take part in the Spokeo Search Angel Meet and Greet event on April 12 at the American Adoption Congress National Conference in Cleveland.
To read more about the Spokeo Search Angel Award Winners visit www.spokeoangels.com/angels.
Joanna Eve Freitag, a North Carolina adoptee, spent many years searching for her own family on Internet forums and reunion registries. After reuniting with her own family, she has been helping others search for more than nine years and serves with many adoption-related organizations including the North Carolina Coalition for Adoption Reform for which she is a board member. She has spoken at Wake Technical Community College, Wake County Department of Social Services and Wake County Public Library System on various subjects including her own search story, how to help others search, adoption legislation and more. She is focused on reaching and helping as many people as she can with getting the information about their own history that they desire and deserve.
Connie Lynn Gray was adopted from the Texas state foster care system at age nine and was denied further contact with her siblings. Two weeks after turning 18, she petitioned the courts for her original birth certificate and, within two years, reunited with her sisters and her parents. Connie has been helping adoptees and family members since the late 1970s when she would visit the Texas State Library in Austin to conduct her research. She is currently on the board of the non-profit, Adoption Knowledge Affiliates, and serves as an active member of the Texas chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America. She is known as “Texas Search Angel,” and she believes each motivation for searching is valid and that every person is entitled to his or her own genetic history. Connie feels there is a great sense of urgency with each search because, as an emergency room nurse, she knows life is fragile and opportunities for reunions can vanish in the blink of an eye.
Kari Lemons is a parent of two boys adopted from Cambodia as babies. She hired someone to do a birth parent search for her boys twice, but with such little information from the time of the adoption, the searches lead nowhere. Kari had been involved in genealogy for 20 years and after hearing about a new DNA test that could find family members to the fifth cousin, she knew it could be helpful for her kids. She founded the Khmer Cousins DNA project in January of 2012 with a goal to test all of the approximately 2300 Khmer children adopted between 1990 and 2002, when adoptions closed in Cambodia. Currently there are 42 members in the project with 39 completed test results. 32 of the tests have found a cousin match. She is absolutely honored to work with the people her project helps and feels absolute joy every time a test is returned with a cousin or close family match.
Kellie Walls Sharpe was forced to give up her baby girl when she was only 17 years old. Two years later she began her search and continued for 23 and-a-half years. Upon finding her, she realized that the entire time, they had only been less than two miles apart. While taking breaks from her own search, Kellie would help others that she came across, match up as well. After finding her daughter in 2010, she dedicated herself fully to helping others search for their families. According to her, Kellie is a normal person, just a wife and mother of four who sits in her room on her laptop and changes people’s lives. It is her hope that more people will see that about her and volunteer themselves and get involved.
Mary Edna Wilson began the search for her relinquished daughter upon hearing a coworker mention that she was looking for a sister and offering to help her. Upon finding her own daughter, she realized the great amount of healing that comes from reconnecting. She has been a volunteer searcher for more than 15 years and not only dedicates herself to making matches, which she considers the easy part, but also to helping individuals reconnect and begin a healing relationship. Her passion for doing searching work stems from the healing it affords everyone involved, including herself. She is an Edna Gladney birthmother with aspirations to continue to help others and share stories of joy and hope that will touch the lives of many.
Spokeo is a leading people search platform using proprietary technology to organize public information into comprehensive yet easy-to-understand online profiles. Based in Pasadena, Spokeo makes it easier than ever to help reunite friends and family, browse celebrities, and discover information about your online footprint, by simply searching a name, address, email, phone or username. For more information about Spokeo, visit www.spokeo.com
About Mixed Roots Foundation
Mixed Roots Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which aims to leverage philanthropy to provide more post adoption resources. The foundation promotes and supports organizations that serve as a resource to the diverse adoptee community; creates more awareness of the adoption experience, and inspires the next generation of adoptees to achieve their dreams and goals by collaborating with likeminded individuals, businesses and other organizations in the greater community. For more information about Mixed Roots Foundation, visit www.mixedrootsfoundation.org