Finding Fernanda Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-Broder Search for Truth

Finding Fernanda Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-Broder Search for Truth By Erin Siegal Finding Fernanda: Two mothers, one child, and a cross-border search for truth By Erin Siegal Cathexis Press, LLC, 2011, ISBN: 0-98388-450-1, 317 pages, $18.75 Stumbling across the world of intercountry adoption by accident while visiting Guatemala on vacation, Erin Siegal returned home eager to research the Guatemalan adoption process. More than three years of her research is presented in “Finding Fernanda.” While exploring the background and the process of adoptions from Guatemala, Siegal not only uncovers the stories of happy adoptions, but also the accounts of kidnapping, government corruption and unethical adoption practices. “Finding Fernanda” follows the journey of two women who love the same child — Fernanda. Betsy Emmanuel is an American mother attempting to add another child to her family and is given the adoption referral of Fernanda. Mildred Alvarado is a Guatemalan mother whose two children are stolen from her, one of them is Fernanda. Siegal’s investigative journalism chronicles the journey of one mother’s fight to find her children and another’s quest for truth and transparency in adoption. With the story of these two mothers who both love the same child, Siegal also uncovers a corruption that runs deeply into the adoption community — through government entities, judicial systems and beyond. “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. — Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel

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