Tiny Spark’s inaugural show takes a look at corruption in international adoption.
Our focus is Guatemala. We speak to adoptive mother, Jennifer Hemsley, pictured on the left. When she and her husband began the process of adopting a girl from Guatemala, they suspected fraud and feared the infant may have been kidnapped. “We were very concerned that [Hazel’s] mother might be looking for her,” Jennifer tells us.
Hemsley says she could’ve ignored her own suspicions and adopted the girl anyway. “But I couldn’t do that, “Hemsley said. “That wouldn’t have been right.”
So Hemsley undertook a years-long quest for the truth. Along the way, she endured the scorn of a U.S. adoption agency, her sanity was questioned by Guatemelan lawyers and officials, and many American adoptive parents turned on her.
Hemsley’s story is a complex, nuanced exploration of what it means to make “right” choices on behalf of a girl, in another country, who needs a home.
We also speak with Erin Siegal, author of the new book, Finding Fernanda. Siegal’s book investigates corruption in Guatemala’s international adoption system.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, Siegal gained access to a trove of cables from the U.S. embassy in Guatemala, which reveal the extent of the American government’s concerns about aiding and abetting child trafficking.
Siegal tells us, “The cables show that there was always some corruption, there were always women selling their children, and the embassy knew that. There were always imposter birth mothers showing up and relinquishing children that weren’t biologically related to them. And there were always financial incentives that did drive this corruption and the Embassy did know that.”