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Finding Fernanda: Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-Border Search for Truth Paperback – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Reads like a mystery novel, but the facts it reveals are hauntingly true.... Siegal does a fantastic job of breaking down a complicated story... "Finding Fernanda" is a gripping read that offers glimpses of hope in what was an otherwise heartbreaking system." -The Christian Science Monitor

"Oh, what a story. It is hard to believe that such things go on in this world of ours, but Erin Siegel has woven a lively, well-researched and cautionary tale that is a must-read..." --Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, Author of New York Times best seller, Carved In Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife

"Erin Siegal peels back layers of deception to reveal a twisting and engrossing saga of two deeply wronged mothers and the girl they both claimed. Her brave account is chilling, and should be required reading for policymakers and anyone who cares about children." --E. Benjamin Skinner, 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize Author, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-To-Face With Modern-Day Slavery

"Fernanda's story carries us into the darkest regions of the human heart... Erin Siegal has written a saga of seduction and betrayal so sinister that anger pushes you from page to page. Rarely has an investigative reporter unveiled so compelling a narrative of motherhood from Guatemala to Tennessee." --Wayne Barrett, investigative journalist and author of Trump: The Deals and the Downfall and Rudy!: An Investigative Biography Of Rudy Giuliani

"Really will tug at your heartstrings... A moving story." --Dan Raviv, CBS Radio News

"Heavy-duty investigative reporting and compelling personal testimony..." -The Miami Herald

"Finding Fernanda" is an incredible piece of investigative journalism. The amount of time, depth of research and commitment to this story is evidenced on every page of this book. The book is a page turner and a jaw dropper as the evidence of corruption runs deep and the story unfolds. Siegal should be commended for her bravery in bringing this story to light in the hopes that adoption processes will be improved to protect both children and families. Siegal took a courageous step to bring this story forward. It is my hope that with this story available for every government official, prospective adoptive parent and anyone involved in adoption to see positive changes can be made to protect children. "Finding Fernanda" is a must-read." -Adoption Today

From the Back Cover

"‎Finding Fernanda may be the most illuminating book about abuses in international adoptions yet written. This is not just fearless public service journalism, but also a moving, acute, gracefully-written work of story-telling. Erin Siegal is an extraordinary young journalist." --Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name and The Art of Political Murder

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Cathexis Press; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983884501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983884507
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,697,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Erin Siegal McIntyre is a writer and photographer, and a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Her award-winning debut book "Finding Fernanda" (Beacon Press) recently ignited an hour-long CBS special investigation on 48 Hours, "Perilous Journey." You can learn more about the investigation, the book, and the show at or on the CBS News/ 48 Hours website.

"Finding Fernanda" has been recognized with various awards, including an Overseas Press Club Award Citation for Best Reporting on Latin America, the Society of Professional Journalists (No. Calif.) James Madison Freedom of Information Award, and an International Latino Book Award and an Independent Publishers Book Award Gold IPPY for Best Book on Current Affairs. Siegal McIntyre holds a Master's degree from Columbia University, where she was a 2008-2009 fellow at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, and she is a journalist based in Tijuana, Mexico.

Erin's photo work is represented by Redux Pictures in New York, and her literary work is represented by Farley Chase of the Chase Agency. Follow her on Twitter: @ErinSiegal

Customer Reviews

A very touching and informative book - and extremely well written.
Author/journalist Erin Siegal has done an incredible job documenting the darker side of international adoption.
I highly recommend this book, particularly to those who are considering adoption.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Kruchkow on December 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Where can I start a review of Erin Siegal's Finding Fernanda? I know Erin Siegal as an online friend and someone who came to me for advice on this book. Why me? Perhaps it is because I made my story public more than a dozen years ago as one of 22 families victimized by an illegal Mexican adoption/baby smuggling ring. At that time, I called for the adoption industry to police itself and remove the cancerous, criminal, profiteering element that infected its underbelly. Back then, I underestimated how deep that infection was. It turns out that it is a systemic infection that pervades all international adoptions, even today and even with the regulations of The Hague Agreement that were intended to prevent abuses.

There are now hundreds of stories that involve most sending countries, like Betsy Emmanuel's and mine. What Siegal has done with Finding Fernanda that makes her book a must-read is take a purely journalistic approach to the story she presents. She reports on what she learned without passing judgment. The reader can draw his own conclusions about motives, about who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, and the conclusions become devastatingly obvious.

Stories like this are by their nature very convoluted, and Siegal does an amazing job of making the twists and turns as easy to follow as possible. Her preamble includes a section on the cast of characters which can serve as a reference should the reader get confused. A photojournalist by trade, Siegal uses one photo per chapter and each one is carefully chosen to supplement the story appropriately while having the most impact.

What you'll learn in the book is that international adoption involves a great imbalance of power.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By abel H on February 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
I met Erin Siegel a few years back when she was first laying the foundation for her debut book Finding Fernanda. Erin is an award-winning investigative journalist and Oakland resident (cue my pride surge). She explained the heartbreaking subject of international adoption corruption and how she would examine it in this book. After our discussion, I realized I hadn't finished my food because I was listening so attentively to everything Erin was saying. This is a must read. As an ethiopian I have been frustrated by the lack of coverage of adoption corruption, finally Erin Siegel has taken the issue on and done it in way that inspires. Get this book, be inspired and then do something.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth S. Case on January 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Disclaimer: Not only am I a parent to a child adopted from Bulgaria, I am a member of PEAR and had some brief correspendence with Ms. Siegal.

This book will come as a shock to some in the international adoption (I.A.) community. To others, it will not. Ms. Siegal exposes two ugly undersides of I.A.

The first is how children are obtained for "placement". Replace Guatemala with Vietnam, Cambodia, Eithiopia, China, Russia, Bulgaria, Korea, India, Nepal and I hate to write it, but these countries do not differ in how [many] children were obtained. Multiply Mildred Alvarado by thousands.

We may want to believe our children were "abandoned", but I no longer believe that anymore. Most AParents will argue differently and with good cause [especially those who adopted from Russia] about their childrens' origins. "Finding Fernanda" at least puts a face to the biological source of [many] of our I.A. children.

The second underside, the portion we lived through in our own adoption(s), was the abject horrible treatment by self-appointed "adoption agency directors" (are you listening Sue Hedberg? Snow Wu? Nina Kostina? Denise Hubbard? Margaret Cole-Hughes? Linda Perilstein?). Although I and Betsy Emmanuel are vastly different, she and I share one huge thing: the living hell that dealing with a Narcissistic, control freak agency director can wreak over you life. The hoops jumped through so you can bring your child home.

Having been though the state complaint process like Mrs. Emmanuel did with Florida's state licensing commission, I know the shock and sadness that accompanies the "slap on the wrist" these "adoption professionals" receive.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Stern on January 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having adopted our youngest from Guatemala in 2003, many people in this book were familiar to us. While we have a connection with our child's birthmother and foster mother, we know of many instances of illicit activity, human trafficking and bribery in the Guatemalan adoption world. Much of what Siegal writes mirrors our experience - DNA testing, social worker reports, PGN, adoption facilitators, US embassy as well as the underbelly of international adoptions. This is a must read for all adoptive parents, potential investigative journalists and adult adoptees. An amazing documentation of two mothers' plights for truth and freedom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anna on March 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
Author/journalist Erin Siegal has done an incredible job documenting the darker side of international adoption. The book provides a top-notch researched account of how corruption, greed, poverty and lack of the rule of law can allow for children to be forcibly separated from their parents by baby trafficking rings, ripping apart the most basic human connections of family, community and blood ties. At the same time, the book does not read as a condemnation of international adoptions nor of the people who open their homes to these children. This balanced approach to the issue is part of its strength, allowing readers to evaluate the complexity of the issue on their own terms through the story Siegal shares with us.

Siegal traces the root of the problem through a vast journalistic endeavor that includes interviews and document searches on both sides of the border. The research and documentation forms the foundation of the book, making it a solid, fact-based read. It is the narrative of two mothers - one who has lost her child to a ring of baby smugglers and the other who is seeking to adopt internationally - that takes the book to an emotionally compelling level worthy of a television/movie script. By taking us into the lives of these two women who find themselves connected in the search for Fernanda, Siegal provides us with a very real and heart-wrenching human face to the issue. The differences between these women are what initially stand out. The story of the Guatemalan mother is one of lack of education that leads to limited and poor choices and a constant struggle to make ends meet, a world that is far from that of the Tennessee housewife who is attempting to adopt a Guatemalan child.
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