04 May 2011

The Author

Author of the award-winning book Finding Fernanda. Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. Redux Pictures photographer. Read more here.


CCI Records, Released by DCF May 10, 2010

This set of documents was released to me on May 10, 2010 by the Florida Department of Children and Families, in response to a public records request (also known as a FOIA, or Freedom of Information Act) I filed with them.

The bundles contain various documents, including email between Sue Hedberg, the director of Celebrate Children International, and her business partners in Guatemala. There’s also correspondence between CCI and clients. Names of CCI clients have been redacted by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Here’s a sample page:


Sue Hedberg <sue@celebratechildren.org> wrote:

“But she’s already ___’s girl, right? Is she lost forever?”

What’s happening with _____ girl?


Original Message

From: Clariss Bracamonte <clarissbracamonte2@yahoo.com>

Sent: 10/29/06 11:45:55 AM

To: Sue Hedberg ≤sue@celebratechildren.org>

Subject: BAD NEWS

Miss Sue,

I’m sorry to have to inform you that the day before yesterday was TERRIBLE, I had problems with the police and the mother of ____. The mother showed up at the office with family members and police officers looking for me and asking for the baby back, saying that I’d taken it from them and that they wanted it back because her family was going to help her raise the child, and that if I didn’t give it back she would go to the Ministerio Publico.

What I’m telling you may sound easy, but we had to talk to them, for a long time, trying to convince the woman of the opposite, and we showed the police all of the documents, but as you know, here people are unscrupulous and they did NOT accept it. And we had to return the girl, and EVEN after returning the girl we had to bribe the authorities in order to avoid arrest and that will affect the other processes because they’ll actually cite the lawyer and the problem would be drawn out, hurting the other adoption cases that are currently underway. They drafted an ‘acta de devolucion’ (certificate of return) so that it be known that the girl was returned at the request of the mother.

I BEG OF YOU PLEASE to handle the situation with the family IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE, I know this is a HUGE problem for you also, but REMEMBER that we have lots of other processes underway and if we discover the authorities surely they will act against us because you know that they DIDN’T act LEGALLY, but lamentably in this country and I imagine in others, that’s how you deal with things, it should NOT be like that but we didn’t have any other alternative to protect the other processes.

I hope that you understand how we feel, since as you know this was almost finalized, but REALLY nothing could be done, you worry me, but the family worries me, and I HOPE that they understand and cooperate for this to remain as it stands. WHAT I DON’T WANT IS FOR THIS PROBLEM TO HARM THE OTHER PROCESSES, PLEASE.

I understand that this commits me to replace this case, or to return the payment, which I don’t agree with. I also think that the family could want NOT to continue the adoption through me, or do it with someone else, but it was NOT MY FAULT, these things happen, what else can I say Miss Sue, you know me, you  know we’ve worked on many cases and it’s NEVER HAPPENED before like this and I’M SO SORRY.

I ask for your discretion as to what…



May 10, 2010, CCI: Set One (55 pages)

May 10, 2010, CCI: Set Two (58 pages)

May 10, 2010, CCI: Set Three (47 pages)

May 10, 2010, CCI: Set Four (24 pages)

May 10, 2010, CCI: Set Five (64 pages)

May 10, 2010, CCI: Set Six (47 pages)

May 10, 2010, CCI: Set Seven (36 pages)

Please be patient when downloading, some of the longer .pdf’s may take a few minutes.

1 Comment
  1. So is this saying that Clariss stole a child- the mother came with police to get the child back.. and this is why other cases (like my process) were so delayed?

Leave a comment

By submitting a comment here you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.