AUGUST 10, 2010 UPDATE:
THANK YOU EVERYONE! ALMOST DONE!
With your help, I've raised almost $5,000, and I'm now here in Guatemala City!
If you're interested, I'll be keeping a multimedia reporter's diary here on Kickstarter. You can follow along by clicking the blue "Updates" tab at the top of the screen. This diary isn't public, and it's only for backers (just a buck gets you access!) With love and gratitude, Erin
"Finding Fernanda" (working title) is a dramatic true story and a carefully reported work of investigative nonfiction. It's the story of two mothers, Elizabeth Emanuel in the United States and Mildred Alvarado in Guatemala, whose lives abruptly collide while searching for the same little girl. Each woman unwittingly ends up playing a central role in what was one of Guatemala's most profitable underground industries: the buying and selling children for international adoption.
The Western world, especially the United States, has long been a recipient of orphans from developing countries. Well-meaning American families typically pay around $25,000-$30,000 to adopt. In developing nations with little to no governmental oversight or regulation, the business of sending children to the United States can become a highly profitable industry where demand drives supply.
Here's what my publisher says:
"Beacon is pleased to announce the acquisition of a book that will tackle the controversial and painful topic of international adoption corruption. Over the past five years, 20% of the 100,000 children adopted into the United States came from Guatemala. Journalist Erin Siegal relates the chilling tale of a Guatemalan mother whose two-year-old daughter and infant child were stolen from her, interwoven with the story of an adoptive mother from Tennessee who began to question the practices of the agency that was handling these two girls. Siegal’s book will shed light on an alarming problem that, unchecked, will only continue to grow. Fall 2011."
"Finding Fernanda" isn't just about exposing systems of human rights abuses and corruption, it's also a poignant and riveting human narrative about the power of hope, faith, and unbroken determination. As a journalist, I feel beyond privileged to have the honor of telling this compelling, important story.
I’ve been working on this investigation for over eighteen months now, including time spent living and reporting in Guatemala City funded by the Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. My current affiliation as a Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism affords me the opportunity of working with a research assistant on a part-time, pro-bono basis, but my fellowship is unpaid.
This is where you come in!
Beacon Press is a small, independent publisher, and my book advance doesn't cover my reporting expenses. I need to raise money to support the continued reporting and writing of this book until October 1st, when my manuscript is due.
No other American journalist has the contacts and sources I’ve nurtured (over 400!), and I can say with certainty that my immersion in the world of Guatemalan adoption corruption has made me an expert on the subject. The many victims of adoption-related crimes may stand a better chance at obtaining justice if the corruption is exposed, dissected, and widely understood. "Finding Fernanda" will help shine a much-needed light into the dark world of quasi-legal child trafficking performed for profit in the name of love and charity.
Here's what your donation will go towards:
-Two months of living, reporting, and writing in Guatemala City
-Legal costs affiliated with getting the US State Department to respond to the thirty Freedom of Information Act requests I have in-process (some of which are almost two years old!)
-Costs associated with database access, and phone/internet access (international calls, etc)
-On-the-ground transportation support (read: gas!) for my dear friend JC, my Guatemalan reporting sidekick/ driver/ buddy (Yup, the kind of door-knocking I've been doing requires the buddy system)
Many thanks for your time and consideration, Kickstarter community!
PS: Feel free to get in touch with any questions you might have.
- (45 days)