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When Muna Guled, her husband and youngest daughter were granted refugee status in America two-and-a-half years ago, their first priority was to bring over Guled’s three other children, still stranded in Ethiopia after escaping famine and violence in Somalia.

That dream will soon become reality — but for only two of the children. The third, 17-year-old Roda, is not technically Guled’s daughter. She is her niece, who Guled unofficially adopted after the girl’s mother went missing and her father and grandparents died.

In the past, this might not have been an obstacle. But the United States now requires refugees hoping to reunite with their families to prove that they’re related — either through a DNA test, or with official adoption paperwork, which can be impossible to obtain in war-torn countries. So when Guled’s two biological children board a plane to meet their mother and sister in Ohio in the coming months, Roda will likely be left behind.

This has been devastating news for the family.

“Roda doesn’t have anybody else. She is scared of what will happen to her alone. She is scared she will be kidnapped by...