Books by Erin Siegal

"The U.S. Embassy Cables: Adoption Fraud in Guatemala, 1987-2010" by Schuster Fellow Erin Siegal is a three-volume compilation of diplomatic cables that reveals disturbing information about how international adoptions between Guatemala and the United States were handled between 1987 and 2010. Paperback | Ebook Volume One | Ebook Volume Two | Ebook Volume Three 

"Finding Fernanda:
Two Mothers, One Child,
and a Cross-Border
Search for Truth,"
(Cathexis Press, 2011) is a complex investigation of $30,000 paid to adopt a child, four Guatemalan “orphans,” one nonprofit evangelical Christian adoption agency, a family-run child-trafficking ring, one infant cut from her unconscious mother’s womb, two tiny missing sisters, and a nine-member Tennessee family who believed whole-heartedly in Christian love and faith, until the dark side of international adoption shattered their trust. "Finding Fernanda" is Siegal's first book.

>Hear an excerpt of an interview with Mildred Alvarado, Fernanda's birthmother.

Learn more about Siegal's extensive investigation of fraud, corruption, and child trafficking in international adoption between Guatemala and the United States at

From the Schuster Institute

Fraud & Corruption in International Adoptions

Finding Fernanda, The U.S. Cables, by Erin Siegal

Press Coverage

"Finding Fernanda"
   & "The U.S. Embassy Cables"


Slideshows, Book Excerpts, Blog Posts, Interviews

“Erin Siegal, BFA ’06,” May 2, 2012, Parsons the New School for Design 

“Fernanda's story: The dark side of the Guatemalan baby trade,” Tiziana Barghini, April 10, 2012, TrustLaw 

“Finding Fernanda, libro sobre tráfico infantil,” Mariana Islas, March 17, 2012, El Economista 

“Mexico Adoption Bust Reveals Vast Child Trafficking Ring,” Erin Siegal, February 29, 2012, Huffington Post 

“Central American Horror Story: A Brief Chat With Finding Fernanda Author Erin Siegal,” Arturo, February 8, 2012, Racialicious 

“Erin Siegal: Periodismo en la Frontera,” Alvaro González, February 5, 2012, Cuello Blanco Magazine 

“In the Land of Lost Children,” Christa Hillstrom, February 2, 2012, Human Goods 

“The Interview,” January 27, 2012, The Daily Single (subscription required)

“A Deeper Look at International Adoption,” Abel Habtegeorgis, January 11, 2012, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights  

“The Horrors of International Adoption in ‘Finding Fernanda’,” Jessa Crispin, January 10, 2012, Kirkus Book Reviews

“Illegal Cross-Border Adoption Traps Two Mothers,” Erin Siegal, December 18, 2011, Women’s Enews 

“For Sale: Baby,” Kristen French, December 15, 2011, Guernica 

“Corruption in International Adoption,” Amy Costello, November 29, 2011, The Tiny Spark

“Babies for Sale: Looking at the Adoption Industry in Guatemala,” November 2011, Julia Dahl, The Crime Report 

“‘Finding Fernanda’: Pictures from an Investigation,” Elissa Curtis, November 10, 2011, The New Yorker 

"'Finding Fernanda,' Erin Siegal’s Investigation of Adoptive Guatemalan Child Trafficking Goes to Print,” September 1, 2011, 

“Kickstarting Funding for a Freelance Project,” Erin E. Arvedlund, August 20, 2010, Newswomen’s Blog

“Q&A With Erin Siegal: Tapping Social Networks to Fund Investigative Journalism,” Jasmine Defoore, July 17, 2010, 

Book Reviews 

“Book Review: Finding Fernanda by Erin Siegal,” Dos Lives Team, March 1, 2012, Dos Lives Latino 

“The deceit and fabrications are infuriating as you crisscross Guatemala City with Mildred. Using her meager wages she rides the bus to fill out complaints that are never filed and talk to officials who do not believe her. You tell yourself as you read that you will finish the chapter and then shut off the light and go to bed. But, an hour later you are still standing next to Mildred cheering her on and begging her to search just one more hogar for her girls.... A truly heartbreaking account of the ugly brilliance of international adoption and child trafficking. The details are laid before the reader of how poor countries can be exploited and good people mislead and intimidated. Become aware of the world we live in. Whether you have a child of your own or not, you must read Finding Fernanda.” 

"Journalist Faces Corruption in Guatemala Adoptions," Kim Fagan-Hansel, February 2012, AdoptionToday.

“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.

"Child Abduction for Adoption and the Tangled Web of Deceit in Guatemala: A Review of Erin Siegal’s 'Finding Fernanda',” Karen Smith Rotabi, January 31, 2012, RH Reality Check.

By the end of this captivating read, it is impossible to see Alvarado as anything but a strong and resilient woman who is determined to fight circumstances of poverty and oppression—its impact on human dignity and the destruction of her family.

“Review of Erin Siegal’s ‘Finding Fernanda’,” Michael Deibert, December 11, 2011, The Miami Herald

Some of the details of the dark side of the industry in Guatemala—houses where pregnant women are kept while waiting to give birth, nurseries where children waiting to be adopted are given borderline-starvation levels of sustenance—are Dickensian in their cruelty. But the tone of the book is, perhaps surprisingly, not despairing. Siegal brings welcome attention to the work of the Fundación Sobrevivientes (Survivor’s Foundation), a women’s rights organization founded by an ex-guerrilla, Norma Cruz, that has grown into one of the most important pillars of the country’s fragile civil society.

"Upon finishing Finding Fernanda, one realizes that supporting of that very civil society, along with the work of bodies such as CICIG, will advance the cause of justice for victims such as Alvarado. Along with its moving personal story of a family torn asunder, Finding Fernanda can also be read as a call to action.” 

"Finding Fernanda," Whitney Eulich, November 28, 2011, The Christian Science Monitor.

This well-researched examination of international adoption captures a world of inexplicable actions–some based on religious faith and others purely criminal–through thoughtful detail and an engaging narrative. Siegal began this work as a master’s project for her graduate degree in journalism, working with documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, leaked e-mails, and sources in the US and Guatemalan governments. “Finding Fernanda”–released just in time for National Adoption Month and which Siegal has published at her own expense–reads like a mystery novel, but the facts it reveals are hauntingly true.


“DC Update: Interview with Erin Siegal,” February 16, 2012, My Technology Lawyer Radio Show.

International adoption Guatemala, January 21, 2012, LBO News from Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer.

"A Cross-Border Search for Truth," December 1, 2011, Think, U.S. KERA-FM, Dallas, TX.

International adoption Guatemala, Adoption Discussions with Donna Montalbano, November 11, 2011, WOON AM 12.40 Woonsocket, RI. Archive shows at


“Freeing the information: From a high school teacher to the Bay Citizen: this year's heroes in journalism,” March 13, 2012, San Francisco Bay Guardian Online 

“Erin Siegal’s 'Finding Fernanda' Reveals Adoption Scams,” Andrew Kreig, February 16, 2012, Justice Integrity Project  

“SPJ NorCal Names First Amendment Honorees,” February 10, 2012, Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California  

“International Adoption or Child Trafficking?” E.J. Graff, January 6, 2012, The American Prospect

“Book Review: Finding Fernanda,” David Kruchkow, December 20, 2011, Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform 

“On Finding Fernanda and More,” December 7, 2011, Guatemala Adoption Information and News 

“Erin Siegal ’09 publishes 'Finding Fernanda',” November 29, 2011, Columbia Journalism School

“‘Finding Fernanda’ is launched,” November 14, 2011, The Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia Journalism School 

“Guatemalan Court Order Rattles Foreign Adoption Community,” Adam Martin, August 19, 2011, The Atlantic Wire 

“What Stolen Children Mean for Adoption,” KJ Antonia, August 5, 2011, Slate 

“Parents ordered to return adoptive daughter,” Betsy Webster, August 5, 2011, KCTV 

“Finding Fernada: A Kickstarter Project by Erin Siegal,” Stacy Oborn, July 22, 2010, Hey, Hot Shot! 

Last page update: May 10, 2012