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

4.7 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,263,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book changed my thinking about children being trafficked. The woman who wrote this is not disgruntled she was part of a scandal with her agency and didn't know it. This shows the other side of adoption and importance of a Hague accredited agency/country. Why the laws are put in place to protect the children and families. I read this when starting our international adoption. Very insightful. Hard to read about these happenings.
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Format: Paperback
I was absolutely stunned by the information uncovered in this book. Although I knew something already about human trafificking, having done quite a bit of reading about kids and young adults sold into the international sexual slave trade, I was completely naive when it came to matters of the trafficking of infants for adoption purposes. Siegal does an excellent job detailing the tricking of poor birth mothers in Guatemala, the kidnapping of non-orphaned children, the desperation of well-intentioned yet gullible adoptive parents, and the absolute sick, manipulative and entirely un-Christian behavior of adoption facilitators like Sue Hedberg. This book was very difficult to read yet very compelling, and it is one of those books that while and after reading you find yourself saying to friends and family, "I am reading this book right now....You won't believe what I am learning." Highly recommended.
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