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

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The dramatic story of how an American housewife discovered that the Guatemalan child she was about to adopt had been stolen from her birth mother

Over the last decade, nearly 200,000 children have been adopted into the United States, 25,000 of whom came from Guatemala. Finding Fernanda, a dramatic true story paired with investigative reporting, tells the side-by-side tale
Paperback, 312 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Beacon Press (first published October 18th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 339)
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Excellent non-fiction book about international adoption between Guatemala and US. The core story is heartbreaking and shocking. The women, especially Betsy, the US adopting mother, Mildred, the Guatemalan mother, and Norma Cruz, are inspiring. A large portion of the book involves confusing descriptions of how different entities are linked to other entities and how the corruption cycle works between each--and sometimes I wanted to skip over paragraphs because of this, but the human part of the st ...more
Wendy Faircloth
This is a very good book on the serious issues of child-trafficking and corruption in Guatemalan adoptions. As an adoptive parent of a Guatemalan son, it was hard to face these issues, but in light of the extreme nature and extent of the problem, it was necessary. (Thankfully, back in 2007, I located my son's birth mother before leaving Guatemala and verified his adoption was legitimate.)

I lived in Guatemala for a year, and this book "rings true" to me. I have seen some of the areas of the city
Scott Carney
Erin Siegal found Fernanda. If you want to know how adtoption transformed from an act of good will and into a big business, It's time for you to read this book.
Jill Tucci
Wow - a compelling read! The author really opens our eyes to the realization of child trafficking and the things that have gone on in international adoptions. My heart goes out to both the adoptive parents as well as the birth parents. Great job Erin on your first book!
A Non-Fiction Review
A review on the front cover of the copy that I read states:

"Reads like a mystery novel, but the facts it reveals are hauntingly true." --Whitney Eulich, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

In my opinion, the book only reads like a mystery novel insomuch as it contains several related "hooks" that pull the reader through the text in order to discover what happens
I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway and was really excited about the story. I knew very little about adoption, especially international adoption, and was excited to learn more.

This book is written by a journalist and that is important to keep in mind as you read. Siegal did such a phenomenal job researching this topic that it almost worked against her. There is so much information on the different organizations, policies, historical events, etc. that it is difficult to keep up. Siegal d
Lisa Munro

Having lived in Guatemala off and on since 2004 (right now, on again!), I don't know anyone here who (Guatemalan or American) who would say that the adoption process has ever been entirely transparent. Its scope, as Siegal points out, is staggering and has remained shrouded in considerable mystery. I used to routinely see two or three Guatemalan babies with their new adoptive parents on every flight I took to the U.S. until 2007. Until the publication of this book, however, its been diffic
Siegal's investigative journalism takes us deep inside the horrors of foreign adoption fraud, specifically in U.S. adoptions of Guatemalan children. This extremely well-researched book follows two families as they both try to uncover what has happened to the same young girl--stolen from her mother? sold by her mother? up for adoption? retrieved by her mother? It is quickly apparent that the truth is hard to come by, and there are few resources these women can trust in a system overwhelmed by cor ...more
Wow! I picked this up at the library and, given the length and small type, figured it would be a slow read. Two days later . . .

We were adopting domestically in 2007, during the time that the U.S. Guatemelan adoption program was shutting down. I was aware that there were concerns with Guatemelan adoption and with international adoption in general but this book was eye-opening. Erin Siegal managed to convey the complexities of the adoption industry and the emotions of all involved. Mildred Alava
Janet Rundquist
Sifting through the narrative report of the terrible mess that was involved with Celebrate Children International adoptions and likely related to so many other adoption and child kidnapping scenarios in Guatemala in the past years reflects just how much of a mess the corruption has been. Siegal's reporting effectively raises more questions that remain unanswered. I cannot imagine the difficulty of her investigation and I appreciated learning more about the intricacies of tracing the ethical path ...more
Sarah Ashburn
A great book- the story is absorbing and the reporting is excellent. An interesting look at international adoptions, I would highly recommend this to all of my friends.
First of all, let me say I think adoption is a wonderful thing. I know several families that have adopted, and my mother-in-law was adopted as a baby. That being said, I think we need to take a good look at adoption practices in this country and what really seems to be willful ignorance on the part of adoptive parents sometimes.

This book was engaging and compelling. There were a few places where the grammar or punctuation was incorrect, but that very well may have been because I was reading it
This book deserves 5 stars not because it is exceptionally well written (although the writing is more than adequate), but because it covers such an important topic for anyone whose life has ever been touched by adoption.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever adopted internationally or is considering international adoption. The book is well researched and documents the unethical practices sometimes found in international adoption, where the vast sums of money paid by adoptive parent
Aug 26, 2012 Shana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in adoption and child welfare
Recommended to Shana by: I think it was featured in People magazine
Excellent account of corruption in international adoptions in Guatemala. Very interesting and fast paced. Having worked in child welfare for many years, I'm definitely a proponent of adoption. However, this book made me consider a lot of issues in international adoption that I was not aware of. It also really underscores the need to chose a reputable agency if you are thinking about international adoption. I did a search for Celebrate Children International, the agency featured in this book, and ...more
A horrifying but important account of international adoption gone wrong. My 3 stars don't reflect my dislike of the topic (although, of course I found it detestable) so much as the difficulty I had in following the many concurrent story lines and overwhelming number of players involved. If I hadn't had an understanding of the Guatemalan adoption system going in, I'm not sure I would have been able to get through the book. The number of spelling errors was also a distraction for me.
This book will haunt me forever. My feelings ranged from extreme sadness to aggravation to rage. Evilness of so many, no thought to the children or parents, both birth & adoptive, only money, money, money. International adoption is a billion dollar business and so many involved, from adoption agencies to government officials, are just in it because of greed. After seeing a program on TV based on the book, I wanted more details. Even though I know a great deal about the ethics, no, the unethi ...more
This book tells the story of Mildred Alvarado, a poor woman who lost her both daughters and Betsy Emanuel, a adoptive mother who faced two nightmares, on the verge to adopt robbed kids. This read WAS AMAZING, I'm not always picking up this type of books but I got this book from a giveaway here thinking I should give it a try. It's very pushing and the reality on the eyes of two different type of mothers was so disturbing in a way that couldnt be better to point out reality. Finding Fernanda is a ...more
Excellent read. There were a few typos in the book, which were a little disconcerting, and the book would have benefitted from an index. A valuable piece of information on the complex world of international adoption.
A book well worth reading. Interesting accounts of several lives involved in the adoption agencies described. The reader can become aware of problems in adopting children of other countries and what can happen.
The book was too wordy and jumped too much but still was very interesting.
I highly recommend it for book Clubs.
I won this and am thankful to the author for donating it but rather than keep it, I am donating it to my local library t share with many others.
It is 'cleanly' written so safe for
I won this book through a GoodReads giveaway. This moving non-fiction story portrays the darker side of international adoption, particularly in Guatemala. Although not the best writing style, this tale is an expose of how illegal adoptions occur due to corrupt officials and crime rings which profit from the "sale" of children. It relates the true story of Mildred Alvarado, the birth mother, and Betsy Emanuel, the American adoptive mother.
Won on goodread giveaway.

This book talks about many issues that many may not know much about. Before I read this book I didn't know anything about adoption, let alone international adoption. It's a lovely written story. It warms your heart and you feel attached to every part of the book. I see myself reading it over and over.
Jennifer Kay
Investigative reporting that reads like a thriller - exhaustive, informative and raises tough questions about international adoptions. A stellar example of the incredible things that can happen when you ask someone to tell you her story.
Heartbreaking book, about child trafficking and how complicit our government is on it. Religious groups, mobs, and corrupt governments work together to steal children and the world is silent. Well researched and laid out.
Kayla Dill
A wonderful book that makes you really wonder about the entire adoption industry. It could be hard on some who have adopted from Guatemala but it is an important book for prospective adoptive parents to read.
Cecilia Echeverria
I was totally absorbed in this story. Great read.
Excellent, riveting story...terrible writing.
A window into unethical adoption practices.
Meghan marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2015
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Erin Siegal's debut book Finding Fernanda (Beacon Press) has been recognized by the Overseas Press Club of America with a 2012 Robert Spiers Benjamin Award Citation (Best Reporting on Latin America), by the Society of Professional Journalists (No. Calif.) with a 2012 James Madison Freedom of Information Award, and by the Independent Publishers Book (Ippy) Award with a 2012 Gold Medal for Best Boo ...more
More about Erin Siegal...
Finding Fernanda: Two Mothers, One Child, and a Cross-Border Search for Truth The U.S. Embassy Cables: Adoption Fraud in Guatemala, 1987-2010 The U.S. Embassy Cables: Adoption Fraud in Guatemala, 1987-2011, Volume One 1987-1994 The U.S. Embassy Cables: Adoption Fraud in Guatemala, 1987-2010, Volume Three 2003-2010

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