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“Baby trafficking: 10-day-old for 5,000 euros,” Emirates, 1/18/2014
“Police in central Greece on Saturday said they had arrested seven people including five Bulgarians for attempted baby trafficking. “A police operation prevented the illegal adoption of a ten-day-old baby for the sum of 5,000 euros ($6,800),” police in the central city of Larissa said in a statement. The authorities said a 62-year-old Greek had attempted to arrange an illegal adoption with the aid of a lawyer in the central city of Volos…   Read the full article here: http://www.emirates247.com/baby-trafficking-10-day-old-for-5-000-euros-2014-01-18-1.535186...
“Congo suspends international adoptions, leaving dozens of children in limbo,” AP, 12/20/2013
“KINSHASA, Congo — The Congolese government has suspended international adoptions of Congolese children, following allegations that some were abandoned by their adoptive parents, while others were “sold to homosexuals.” The move by Congo further restricts foreign adoptions, following similar decisions by Russia and China.” Read the full story here: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/6dd4ce06e9b1448eaff1935c998bff69/AF-Congo-Adoptions-Suspended...
“Child Abduction for Adoption: Poverty and Privilege Clash as a Child’s Return to Guatemala is Blocked”
A reflection on the Karen Abigail case over at RH Reality Check, by Karen Smith Rotabi: “Last year, a Guatemalan court ruled in favor of Loyda Rodriguez, who had asserted that her daughter had been kidnapped into child adoption, by ordering the that the child be returned to her biological family after five long years of searching. The excitement that followed included Loyda readying her home for the return of her daughter Anyeli, abducted at age two. The U.S. couple who Loyda believes ‘adopted’ her daughter remained silent…” Read the full piece here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/07/26/child-abduction-adoption-poverty-and-privilege-clash-as-child’s-return-to-guatema...
Associated Press reports US “won’t return adopted girl snatched from Guatemalan mother;” Loyda Rodríguez may sue
Today, the Associated Press reports, the spokesperson for Guatemala’s Ministry of Exterior Relations, Celeste Alvarado, stated that the United States has presented a diplomatic note refusing to return the child now known as “Karen Abigail” to her mother in Guatemala. The objection, the AP reports, is based on the fact that neither Guatemala nor the United States were party to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction at the time of the girl’s kidnapping in 2006. When the girl left Guatemala on December 9, 2008 alongside adoptive parents Timothy and Jennifer Monahan, both countries had ratified the treaty. UPDATE: 5/15/2012: A...
Mexico Adoption Bust Reveals Vast Child Trafficking Ring
    A child trafficking ring uncovered by Mexican police in mid-January in Guadalajara, Jalisco, has not only operated since the 1980′s, a decade earlier than previously reported, but has also provided hundreds of children to adoptive families in other countries. The story began unraveling on January 9, 2012, after 21-year-old Laura Talamantes Fabiola Carranza was detained by police in Guadalajara. She was accused of allegedly trying to sell her two-year-old son. This led to the arrest of nine other people who were said to be participating in the same baby trafficking ring. Associated Press writer Olga Rodríguez followed the story closely, reporting...
Book Review: “Finding Fernanda” in the Miami Herald
The Miami Herald says that Finding Fernanda is “comprised of heavy-duty investigative reporting and compelling personal testimony.” Here’s an excerpt from their great review: “But the book — comprised of heavy-duty investigative reporting and compelling personal testimony — also examines another mystery: How could so many people in Guatemala and the United States turn a blind eye for so long to an industry that, far from being motivated by the altruistic urge to unite needy children with loving families, has become a world where adults dole out children like cards from a deck and view their young lives as little...
Interview on CBS Radio News
Dan Raviv, CBS Radio News correspondent, calls Finding Fernanda “a moving story” and says it will “really tug at your heartstrings.” To listen to Raviv’s interview with me, click here: http://audio.cbsradionewsfeed.com/2011/12/05/22/05CBSNEWSINTERVIEWRavivwithErinSiegal_1801_1971925.mp3...
Book Review: “Finding Fernanda” in the Christian Science Monitor
A lengthy new review in this week’s Christian Science Monitor says of Finding Fernanda, “…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.”   It’s hard to imagine anyone could dupe a mother into giving up her child for adoption. And it’s tough to relate to a housewife who adopts so many children from abroad that her family swells to nine people. But in Erin Siegal’s debut book, Finding...
Feature Q & A, The Crime Report
The Crime Report has a front-page feature on Finding Fernanda today, an in-depth Q & A about the book. The full piece is available here: http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/inside-criminal-justice/2011-11-babies-for-sale-looking-at-the-adoption-industry-in...
Finding Fernanda in The New Yorker
“I never meant to write a book; the story simply demanded it.” The New Yorker has a blog post up featuring 16 behind-the-scenes photos taken during the reporting of Finding Fernanda.                   Mildred Alvarado and one of her daughters during an interview, Villa Nueva, Guatemala, 2010. Read the full piece here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/photobooth/2011/11/finding-fernanda-erin-siegal.html...
Inside the Courtroom: Anyelí Rodríguez/ “Karen Abigail” Human Trafficking Sentencing
Video from Prensa Libre, reported by Antonio Ixcot, photos by Érick Ávila, video by Daniele Volpe:   And here’s a long clip of the judges reading the charges and sentence, posted by the nonprofit providing free legal counsel to the mother of the stolen child, Loyda Rodríguez:...
Asociación Primavera lawyer, director found guilty of human trafficking in “Karen Abigail” case
UPDATE: The verdict from Guatemala is in. Both women have been found guilty of human trafficking, document fraud, and criminal enterprise (“asociación ilicita”). Valle Flores de Mejia received a sentence of 21 years in prison. Noriega Cano will serve 16. Both women have been ordered to pay Loyda Rodríguez and her husband Dayner Hernández 100,000 Quetzales (about $12,800 USD) in damages. The media has picked up the Associated Press piece about the verdict, and you can read it here at Newsday: http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/guatemala-sentences-2-in-us-adoption-case-1.3270090. ___ This morning, Timothy and Jennifer Monahan of Liberty, Missouri appeared on the CBS Early Show. They spoke about the...
“Both alleged mothers met untimely and violent deaths soon after our investigation…” US Embassy Guatemala cable, June 1995
An excerpt from a June 1995 Cable from the US Embassy in Guatemala to Secretary of State in Washington, US Embassy Mexico, US Embassy Guangzhou, ARA Central America, American Consulate Rio de Janeiro, US Embassy  Moscow, American Consulate Madras, US Embassy Bucharest, US Embassy Asuncion, & INS Washington DC. Subject: “The Integrity of Int’l Adoptions and service to AmCits (American Citizens)” “We can now state unequivocally, but sadly, that there are instances of child stealing in Guatemala. In recent meetings with Emboffs (Embassy officials), Guatemalan Deputy Attorney General for Children’s Issues Carmela Curup Chacon, and Director of Criminal Investigations for the Public Ministry, Estuardo Solorzano...
Florida Family Files Lawsuit Against Celebrate Children International; Alleges Misconduct
Adoptive parents Jeanna and Michael Malota filed a lawsuit on September 21, 2011 against Celebrate Children International (CCI), the adoption agency in my book, Finding Fernanda. The Malotas have accused CCI of false reporting, saying that the agency had hidden the fact that one of the children they offered to the Malotas had “extensive special needs” and will require “a lifetime of extensive treatment.” The child, referred to by the initials “LM” in the court filing, is said to have been offered in adoption as a healthy child. The suit goes on to say that “LM” was hospitalized after displaying “violent...
Q&A with Dawn Embrey, Caught in 5+ Year Irregular Adoption
The Embrey family began adopting two young sisters, ages 4 and 6, from Guatemala in 2007. The older girl was able to immigrate to the US in 2008, but the younger girl couldn’t. Her identity had been used once before in the adoption of a third child to a different US family. So what happens next?   1. When did you start trying to adopt from Guatemala, and why? For a long time, I have felt a burden for children who do not have families to love them. I believe God used this burden to get me to explore the...
“David v. Goliath, or birth mothers v. attorneys” -US Embassy Guatemala, 1996
From a November 1996 US Embassy cable: “…According to US immigration law, a child whose mother refused to voluntarily consent to an adoption clearly would not qualify as an “orphan.” As such, when a birth mother changes her mind and refuses to sign a relinquishment for the Embassy it generally means that the case has reached the end. Yet, for the mother herself, her refusal to relinquish the child often means her problems are just beginning. While some Guatemalan attorneys will willingly return the child to its mother, other make the process extremely difficult, if not impossible, by pressuring, threatening,...
Finding Fernanda in The American Prospect: “Adoption Fraud in Guatemala”
On September 29, 2011, EJ Graff’s blog over at The American Prospect’s website has an entry today entitled “Adoption Fraud in Guatemala” that talks about Finding Fernanda, and the US Embassy Guatemala cables I’ve obtained. An excerpt: Last week, I discussed some of the fraud and corruption that haunt international adoption. If you’re interested, you should know about Erin Siegal, author of the forthcoming Finding Fernanda, which explores kidnapping, fraud, and endemic corruption in adoptions from Guatemala. For years, that country was one of the top “sending” countries in international adoption—and the one most widely considered to be riddled with fraud....
“…The great unanswered question has been what happened to the children.” -U.S. Embassy Guatemala
Excerpts from a February, 1995 cable from the US Embassy in Guatemala: “Post has been using DNA genetic testing in adoption cases for more than 18 months now, and thought it would be beneficial to share both our criteria for requesting testing as well as the results themselves with the Dept. and interested Posts. Specifics on cases with negative DNA results will be included in thorough adoption fraud cable to be reported SEPTEL… [Editor's note: SEPTEL is shorthand for "separate telegram."] …In the worst of cases, our suspicions remained just that, suspicions, since there was no true means of biologically...
The Latest Batch of Adoption Agencies Under Review: Who Meets Hague Standards?
  A number of adoption agencies are applying and/or reapplying for Hague accreditation from the Council on Accreditation. According to the Hague Accreditation and Approval Policies and Procedures Manual, all applicants are required to post on their own websites regarding their accreditation application. From the manual: “COA requires all applicants for initial Hague Accreditation or Approval and applicants for renewal of Hague Accreditation or Approval to post on their own website information explaining how the public may access and provide comment about the adoption service provider’s inter-country adoption services. The posting must be placed on the adoption service provider’s website within thirty (30) calendar days...
NEW: 500 pages of internal memos from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala
This week, I got a surprise in the mail: almost 500 pages of internal memos from the US Embassy in Guatemala. The documents were in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request I filed with the Department of State almost two years ago, in which I asked for: “…correspondence between former US Embassy Consul General John Lowell and State and also correspondence between State and the US Embassy in Guatemala concerning international adoption fraud from 1990-present.” FOIA’ing the federal government can be an exercise in patience. Here’s the timeline of this single request from my notes: November 30, 2009: Initial request...
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