Home > Conversations > Locating Family: A Conversation with Guatemalan Adoptee Maria Hintze
Published: Mon Apr 15 2024
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Bañando en Tiron / Bathing on Holy Saturday (detail), 2017, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Online 2024 Family Home Race
Locating Family: A Conversation with Guatemalan Adoptee Maria Hintze

Jennifer De Leon, a Guatemalan-American author who lives outside of Boston, has a conversation with Martiza Hintze, who was adopted from Guatemala in 1992 and currently lives in California.

The following, lightly edited transcript has been approved by De Leon and Hintze.

Jennifer De Leon:
I’m happy to be here with you finally after all these emails. I’m so grateful for your patience; and we just logged on and realized that we are dressed alike and we didn’t even plan that. It’s so funny. So, please introduce yourself and we’ll take it from there.

Maria Hintze: Awesome. So my name is Maria Hintze. I was born in Palin, Escuintla, Guatemala, and I was born as Angelica Graciela Ramirez. I was adopted back in 1992, where I came to California. I have two older brothers. One of them was adopted with me. My other brother, he’s adopted from El Salvador prior to our adoption, and [we] pretty much grew up in the suburbs of California. From there I’ve just been, you know, going through different jobs, different things like that. I do have my five-year-old niece. I recently wrote a book about multiple family members living with different people. So I’ve been working on that for the last two years, but part of that, [I] also went back to Guatemala to find my [birth] family. That was really an amazing journey. I was able to find my birth mother. I found out that I have two younger siblings that are half siblings for me. We’re really close and we talk on a weekly if not daily basis. So just having the connection here and my family in Guatemala has been really a blessing for me.

De Leon: Oh my goodness. That’s a memoir right there. You just shared so much in the best way. I have so many questions. And again, I want to express that I’m grateful you’re sharing your story and including it in this portfolio for AGNI. I think it’s so important to have your voice included and also, in general, a voice from a Guatemalan adoptee. So here we go. I would love to back up, you mentioned Escuintla. That’s where my father was born.

Hintze: Oh, wow!

De Leon: Yeah, yeah, he’s from a small town called Tiquisate. And it’s like, kind of on the coast. He says it’s so hot there. It’s like 120 degrees.

Hintze: Really, oh my goodness.

De Leon: Yeah, so he moved to the capital when he was seven. But for you—how old were you when you were adopted?

Hintze: Yeah, so I was four years old. Or sorry, I was two years old. My brother was four years old for adoption.

De Leon: Okay, so you don’t have any memories from that time, right?

Hintze: We do have photos that when I see the photos, it’s really interesting to see the different hotels that my parents stayed in and things like that. Nothing that really jogs back memories, but it’s just, it’s—yeah.

De Leon: It’s like you don’t know if you’re remembering it, really, or it’s the picture that has [turned] into a memory. That’s fascinating. So, you’re two years old, your brother’s four, and you’re adopted, and you go to California. What are your earliest memories of California, and when did you realize you were adopted?

Hintze: I feel like growing up in my household, there was no boundaries as far as like race or anything like that. We were just loved as children. I feel like that was really amazing. It wasn’t until I was in second grade that I remember I was lining up for school and this little boy was like, “Oh, where are your parents?” All the parents are standing with us. And I’m saying, “Oh, those are my parents.” And he was like, “No, those are your grandparents. Where are your real parents?” And I was like, “No, those are my real parents.” And he was like, “That can’t be, because they’re white and you’re not.”

And that was the first time that I ever realized I was different from my parents.

De Leon: Oh my gosh. So in that moment, how did you feel?

Hintze: I feel like at the time I was kind of confused and shocked a little bit. And then it wasn’t till I was older that I vaguely remembered it, you know. Now I can have that memory and it’s like it happened yesterday. I can still see the little boy’s face and all the reactions.

It’s interesting that it’s [affected me] as strongly as it has. Because it’s just a simple conversation that is very impactful for somebody who’s been adopted interracially.

De Leon: Yeah, definitely. I feel like that might start a different narrative suddenly, right? It starts the acknowledgement of being adopted. When did you learn what that word meant? Around that time? Did you go home and talk to your parents? Like, hey, this little boy said blah-bla-blah.

Hintze: My parents were very open to talking about adoption. So they were telling me how they went to Guatemala and they were able to get my brother and I and things like that. They were always open for those conversations. I think at the time, though, it was so much information to grasp that I never fully grasped everything.

De Leon: I’m sure, yeah. And the words themselves, it’s like a new vocabulary. Just adoption, and it’s like there’s a lingo that goes with it, the legal terms and everything. What year were you adopted?

Hintze: I was adopted in 1992. Late ’92.

De Leon: Late ’92, okay. Yep. And so [adopting] was about to reach its peak. It probably, I heard the nineties were really busy and then the early 2000s is when it hit its peak peak.

Hintze: Yeah.

De Leon: So you’re growing up in California, you’re going to school, what was going to school like, as far as your experience with identity and friends and social groups, extended family?

Hintze: Something that I really think is important is, when we first came from Guatemala we only spoke Spanish. At that time, I’m speaking baby Spanish, my brother’s fluent in Spanish. Our home videos, we’re speaking full Spanish to each other. And my parents have no idea what’s going on. So they got a Spanish-speaking nanny to be able to figure out, like, what are these kids asking for? What’s going on?

From there, as the home videos go on, you start to see us just speaking English, and then there’s no more traces of Spanish. I feel like that was definitely taken away from us as far as, like, a part of our culture, who we were as people.

I grew up in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood. We were definitely different. And then the fact that we had Caucasian parents—even in our own neighborhood, it was weird. It was kind of like we were the untrusted kids, even though we hadn’t necessarily done anything wrong. It was just how different we were from everybody in our neighborhood.

So I feel like that stuck out to me and always made me feel like I didn’t truly belong, which I feel is a part of the reason why in my teen years I was very rebellious and acting out. And I felt like, you know, my parents were kind of naive to the idea, but when you adopt, they kind of expect you to become just like them and become this cookie-cutter version of a perfect kid. And the idea of trauma behind adoption was never even thought of, you know, they’re just, in a savior, kind of, like, “We saved them from this future that they could have had.” There’s no blame to my parents on that. They truly did what was in their heart and what was best, you know?

And I also feel like there is trauma with that, that I kind of held on to growing up.

De Leon: I imagine it bubbles up in different ways as you get older. Even though you intellectually understand what happened, your body remembers maybe in unique ways. How old were you the first time you went back to Guatemala?

Hintze: In 2013, I believe I was twenty-one, twenty-two—actually my friends were going, and they were like, “We really want you to come with us. We’ll just do the touristy thing.” So I went back and we just, we were tourists.

And that was the first time I ever got to experience my culture. Honestly, for me, that was a big realizing of who I am as a person. The only thing I knew about my culture [prior to that visit] is what I read in books and somewhat on the internet, but even then, I wasn’t really big on computers. I never really got to immerse myself in truly what was going on.

So that was the first time I really felt connected to being Guatemalan. And then I didn’t go back until 2018, when I found my birth mother.

De Leon: Goodness. Okay. 2013—we were there at the same time.

Hintze: Wow.

De Leon: We got married there in 2012 in Antigua and, so many memories there. But okay, you went with your friends—your friends from California?

Hintze: Yeah.

De Leon: And your parents didn’t go with you? Did your brother go with you?

Hintze: No.

De Leon: Oh my goodness.

Hintze: My friends were like, “We’re going to Central America. We want to check out Guatemala.” It was Guatemala and Belize. They were like, “We know you’re from Guatemala. You should come with us.”

De Leon: What were your parents’ reactions when you were like, “I’m going on this trip with my friends”?

Hintze: They were really excited for me. I was just getting the travel bug at the time, so they were excited I was going to do this with some friends that they trusted.

De Leon: And at that point you were older. You said like twenty-one, twenty-three?

Hintze: I remember I was old enough to drink alcohol.

De Leon: Yeah. Although it’s different there, totally.

That’s a formative time. I remember going to Guatemala when I was twenty-three. And it was the first time I was there and experienced it differently. I had gone as a kid. I was with my parents, I went where they went. But when I was twenty-three, I had choices in where I went and spent time and had conversations on an adult level versus a kid level. It was a totally different experience. It kind of opened up the country and the culture for me.

So you go back to California and then—2018, that’s not that long ago—you come to Guatemala again. And this is when you meet your birth parents or family. What prompted that? You’re living your life in California. How does that even start? How did you . . . ? Oh my goodness, I have so many questions.

Hintze: I feel like that was kind of the eye opening for me, in 2013. I had this weird feeling when I was there, where I was in the markets and I was looking around trying to find similarities with people around me, like, wow, that person looks like me. That person could be my cousin, or I wonder if that’s my mom. It’s weird, it’s like that deep-down . . . It’s kind of hard to explain unless you’ve ever lost somebody that’s so important to you, you know, you’re looking for that person. So I took a few years because I felt like I was still kind of young to digest. If I were to try to find my family, would I be able to handle it? And I felt at the time I really wasn’t there yet, mentally, emotionally. So I waited a few years, and then I think 2016 is when I decided to start looking for my mother.

At that time I got on Facebook, I created a profile for my birth name. I used Angel Ramirez instead of my actual name because I didn’t want to be scammed or anything like that. From there I basically started looking up people in Palin, where I last knew my mother was, and I looked up mayors, I looked up community people, committee people, I looked up churches, police—outreaches for the police in her community—and then I just started reaching out and saying, like, “Hey, if I were to be looking for somebody in that community, what kind of things could you offer? How could you help?” I also added a bunch of adoptee groups. And that’s where I came across the adoptee group that we’re in, NGG [Next Generation Guatemala]. I was like, “Hey, have any of you guys tried to go back and find your family?” I was recommended to a searcher, originally, in the United States. We ended up going in circles for like a year where all the information that came back to me was kind of weird. An example is, one time she came back and was like, “Hey, we think we found her.” And I was like, “Okay, what information can you provide?” And she came back with information, and the name was my name. And I was like, “Wait, that’s not who I’m looking for. That’s me. I’m looking for my mother.” There was a lot of weird circles.

From there, I reached back out to a different searcher. And in four days he found my mom. I was in disbelief. I was like, this is a scam, there’s no way he found her. So I had some very specific questions, something only my mother would know. An example is when my mom, when my parents flew down to Guatemala to adopt us, to finally pick us up, my oldest brother—he was from El Salvador—well, they took him with them, to introduce us as kids and, you know, this is your new brother and those kinds of things.

So I asked her, “Who was the person that they brought?” And they were like, “Oh, they had a little boy with her. There was a little boy there, and that was their son.” She knew that. So I was like, okay, you know, I think that only the person who would have actually been in the adoption room would have actually [known. Anyone else would have] been like, “Oh, they brought an uncle or an aunt” or something like that, you know?

De Leon: Wow. Yeah. No, that’s great.

Hintze: That was over the phone, and then in December of that year, I decided to go down there and meet her and meet my sisters. And we look so much alike it’s crazy.

De Leon: The agency that found your mom in four days, was that something you learned about in the group for Guatemalan adoptees on Facebook?

Hintze: Yeah.

De Leon: Wow. It’s quite a resource. I heard now the government has an agency that can help facilitate that. But it sounds like even then, in 2018, that didn’t exist. It’s really new.

Hintze: Yeah. The thing I’m learning about the government, too, is a lot of it they’re trying to do with DNA, which I think is good because it truly matches you with your family member. I have my DNA in their database because I still have my birth father that, we don’t know what happened with him.

We’re trying to see, if he ever does, you know, come up and say he does want to try to find, possibly, his children, that we could be found.

De Leon: So you were in the United States when you talked to the person who said, “We found your mother.” And then you book a flight. What was your parents’ reaction? Or even your brother? Was he like, “I want to do this too?” Or was he like, “What are you doing?”

Hintze: : My parents’ reaction is hard because they’re very—they wanted the best for me and they know, like, in a sense, I create my own narrative for my own life. They’re very happy in that sense. But I feel there is a part of them that’s like, “My baby,” you know, like, “I am your mother” and you know, my mom was I think having a little bit—I made sure every time to say, like—I was going to go visit my family, I would say their names instead of saying “my mother” or “my sisters.”

De Leon: Oh yeah.

Hintze: I could see how she reacted differently when I called my biological mother by her name versus when I called her “mother” or “mom.”

They were really happy and supportive of me. They were like, “Yes, go ahead and fulfill your dream. I know this is something you’ve always dreamed about and something you’ve talked about since you were a little kid.” But I also think there was a heavi[ness] on their hearts.

I went down there with another adoptee in our group who had previously gone out to find her biological family. So she could help to translate and help navigate how the conversations might go and help me to just process all of my emotions. It was really great to have that extra support of somebody who’s been through the same thing. Just to check in on me, like emotionally. And then as far as my brother, it’s kind of unfortunate, but his whole life he’s been struggling with his identity, his adoption. He was a lot older than me when we were adopted, he was four years old. So I feel like he processed things a lot different than I did. He’s been kind of on a bad path. He’s, you know, unfortunately, been on and off drugs. He’s been in and out of prison. I feel like he’s never truly made emotional space or intellectual space to meet my mother. I’ve mentioned to him that I have found my mother and I just feel like he’s not at the capacity yet to try to make a connection with her. I hope that he is able to, and one day he will be able to go down to Guatemala. I just know right now in his life he’s still trying to process just so much and still trying to figure it out.

De Leon: Definitely. I love how you said that, the intellectual space to process, because it is such a big deal and not everybody embraces that, or even if they want to, maybe things come up where you almost can’t. It’s so much. And he was older and that’s a big difference developmentally, four from two. So he might actually have memories. Has your brother from El Salvador—has he tried to search for his birth family?

Hintze: We just started DNA for him recently with 23andMe and Ancestry as well. He was older, he was actually six by the time he was adopted. He spent two years in a foster program in which, my parents explained to me, he was not in a very good system. A lot of it was, like, bare minimum, making sure that they were fed and that they were clean. But other than that, there wasn’t much interaction for all the kids.

So yeah, I feel like he also struggles with this idea. I think he’s just recently come full circle with the idea that he might want to connect with family. And he definitely wants to see El Salvador. So we got him a passport. We’re hoping to do at least an El Salvador trip and then eventually try to connect him with some family.

De Leon: Oh my goodness. So you go—you get your plane ticket and you go with a friend that you met in the group, who had been through this process of reuniting with their birth family. I can picture it, right? The airport and getting out of the airport. And then where did you go? Did you go directly to Escuintla? Was your birth mother still living there?

Hintze: Yeah, so we went to Palin, Escuintla, and we went to her home, which is like—the front is a store and the back is her home. They’re asking, “Do you want her to come to the airport?” And at the time I was like, this is such a private thing for me. And I don’t want to overreact. I would rather, you know, not do it that way and just, and just meet her privately.

And that was the other thing too. They asked, “Do you want us to record this” And I was like, no. For me, this is such a big moment that I just need to have it be private, have it be something between us.

De Leon: Present too. Yeah, I love that. I’m wondering if you’re, if you’re able to share now, in retrospect, what that was like, that moment, the weather, and where were you and just the two of you and what you said.

Hintze: I definitely remember it was hot. It was January, so it’s like their dry season. And it was really touching to be back with my mom and to be able to hold her and to kind of realize, like, this is what I dreamt up as a kid. So it was really nice. There were so many questions that I had, that I wanted to know about from her—why did she choose to put me up for adoption and different things like that that I’ve heard my whole life from my parents, but I needed and I wanted to hear it from her. At first I think we just took time to kind of be with each other.

It wasn’t until maybe a few hours later that we started digging deep, and my sisters, prior to me being there, had no idea that my mom had ever put up a child for adoption. So they were very, like, I thought I was the oldest and how come I never knew this part of you. They felt kind of lied to as well. I remember my mom was saying that she wanted to answer all my questions, but she wanted to do it in private, away from my sisters. I think some of that is just shame, you know, for her own, for putting her children up for adoption.

So yeah. That’s why I feel like it was a good place to do it—in her home and not necessarily in front of everybody or in public, you know?

De Leon: Oh my gosh, yeah, not at the airport. That’s interesting, your mom making that distinction, your birth mom, about the questions. I never really thought about that. The children that she has in Guatemala didn’t know about your existence and your brother’s existence. And then suddenly they’re like, wait a minute, we have an older brother, we have an older sister. And like you said, even shifting their place in the family structure—like, I thought I was the oldest.

I’ve literally never thought about that. What would happen if my birth order was different, somebody came up to me and was like, “Actually you’re the oldest.” But that’s one detail of many, I’m sure.

Of the questions you eventually got to ask her, what stands out to you? Was there something surprising, or what really landed for you in the many questions you were able to finally ask her?

Hintze: You know, I wouldn’t even say it would be the answer to the questions. It would be more so the feeling like I was able to get answers and hear it from her and the fact that now I’ve been able to return. She showed me the place where the lady had actually birthed me, not a hospital, but like a birthing center. And she talked to me about the hardships that she went through prior to our adoption, and how difficult her life was, and she just knew at that point that she had to put us up for adoption.

So that’s why I feel like it wasn’t a specific thing she said, but more just hearing her story and understanding that she did all that she could, she did the best for us. Some of her story is a little bit cloudy, where it does and doesn’t make sense. What I remember is that, no matter what, she holds a little bit of shame for the adoption itself. She’s even said that she was very judged in her community for putting us up for adoption. Everybody was like, “How could you put children up for adoption?” And she’s like, “You know, I hear you guys, but at the same time, I also have no money to support these children.” So she felt a lot of shame. And I feel like that’s a part of some of the narratives she tells me. I don’t know if it’s exactly true or just what sounds best. But either way, it was nice to know that.

And it’s kind of weird to say, but it feels like you’re going home—you know, to a home that you never knew, but it felt like that.

De Leon: Oh my gosh. Okay. That’s really incredible. You’re able to talk about it so clearly and like smooth. It feels like a gift to be able to share this experience because I think you’re pulling the curtain back and really kind of revealing your heart and emotions and what probably was complicated to go through, but that feeling you’re talking about, that is so powerful, being able to have your questions answered, versus it being a specific answer.

After that moment, you’re not searching anymore. And before that moment, you were always searching. So that’s a really impactful shift, and then meeting siblings, you know, on top of that. Was she able to tell you the story of what allowed her—or, what had her make that decision?

I totally get you because in some of the stories or some of the narratives that I’ve read, like in Rachel Nolan’s research—she has a book about researching Guatemalan adoption, and some of them—

Hintze: Yeah, I’m on Chapter Four of that.

De Leon: She’s actually coming to Boston on Thursday, so I can’t wait to see her at the bookstore. And in some of those stories that she shares from her research, it sounds like there were cases where mothers didn’t willfully give up their babies for adoption. It’s horrifying that they were kidnapped or the mothers were arm-wrestled into doing that, when they didn’t really want to. But in your case, you were able to talk to your birth mother and ask her and it sounds like she knew, like, I’m in poverty, I can’t raise these kids and I want to give them the best opportunities that I can. That’s got to be a difficult decision.

Going to meet her, were you thinking—were you in the mindset of, like, okay, I now want to have a relationship with her and my siblings, and now this is one family that I’m going to be in touch with essentially for the rest of my life? Or had you not thought that far?

Hintze: I definitely hadn’t thought that far. I knew if I was going to be rejected . . . which was a part of the reason why I waited to find them, because, you know, what if? There are so many what-ifs in this situation. What if my mother denied me and I was rejected and then I hit a dead end, or what if I never find her? What if she’s no longer here? So I feel like, by the time I had found her and she’s like, “Yes, come to Guatemala, I would love to see you,” I was feeling open to a relationship with her.

You know, having the language barrier is very difficult because every time we talk, we have to have a translator. I know limited Spanish, but not enough to truly tell her the things that I want to tell her, and vice versa. They don’t speak any English, and my mom cannot read or write in Spanish. Everything is done verbally. Our relationship is kind of difficult, but it is nice, she’ll call me sometimes and just be like, “I miss you and I love you and I think of you.”

Then with my sisters, we just text back and forth. Sometimes they text in Spanish and I use Google Translate, and vice versa. We just kind of, you know, we’ll talk about random stuff. So I have a good relationship with them now, but I think in the time of searching, I was so, like, this could go any direction. I could get there and they could say they want nothing to do with me. That’s why I waited to be more emotionally prepared, [so] that no matter what the outcome was, I know I did what I set out to do.

De Leon: That’s lovely. I mean, that’s really wise, too. I wonder if a twelve-year-old going through this process would have that same emotional maturity. Does that happen sometimes?

Hintze: Before probably twenty-one, twenty-two, I probably could have never imagined or been able to grasp and had the emotional intelligence to truly make the connections that I did.

De Leon: No, that makes a ton of sense. So you’re in touch on the phone and you’re able to be in touch. Have you been back since that initial meeting?

Hintze: I’ve been back three times since then. Just in January, I just got to see her. And, you know, at first when I made the initial connection, I was thinking, oh, I’m going to make my family bigger, I’m going to have this big old family. And then I realized I have two different families. I have my family in Guatemala, and I have my family in the United States. The worlds weren’t really connected at all. It was a strange feeling because home for me has always been here. This is always where I’ve been comfortable. My parents have done a great job of making me feel comfortable, but there’s always been that part of me that’s like, this doesn’t feel like home. And then, there it’s like, I’ve never been there before or felt that before, and part of me feels like, this should be home, but it’s not, because I’m not from—I’m from there, but I never grew up there.

It’s kind of like tethering between the emotions of that, that I think was the hardest part to process after being back. And then again, when I’m there, just the language barrier, it’s like, I have so much to tell them and say, but it’s like, I’m constantly having to Google Translate it and then figure out exactly how to say it. I think learning more Spanish is going to be important to continue a really good relationship with my family. It has been testing, as far as my overall feelings, but it’s always nice to go back. It always feels like I’m going home.

Just recently I brought my adoptive father out there, just in this last trip, to meet my birth mother. The only time he had ever met her was during the exchange of us. That was a pretty hard time for my mother, and then for my parents, they’re in this excitement stage where they’re going to have these beautiful kids that they always wanted, but they’re also trying to comprehend her and her emotions. For him to be able to come back and meet her and they got to share their stories, and my dad was able to thank her for her sacrifice. It’s a lot to have to go through, so he was telling her [his] understanding of that. You know, about how much joy we brought into their lives and being able to be a complete family and he got to raise us and he did the best he is able to do with the kids. And she was just so happy that we were able to get everything, like every way that you could have dreamed, like if I’m going to have to put my children up for adoption, I want them to have the best of everything.

And I feel like my parents were able to provide that for us. She ultimately, you know, knows that what she did was the right thing.

So that was really, yeah, it was like a big full circle for us.

De Leon: That’s what I’m thinking. It’s like the story circle closes. Not that there’s not tons more in the future.

I imagine there are people who can’t find their birth families or it’s complicated or, like you said, they might face rejection, which I honestly never thought about. And the denial or the shame, unfortunately, was given to women in this scenario. Meanwhile, where are the men, you know? Where’s their responsibility? They don’t have to harbor that feeling of giving a child up for adoption. We’ll probably be hearing more and more stories, hopefully, about this whole experience, and your story just adds so much to the tapestry.

What’s happening now? Where are you now, and [what] are you feeling in terms of your identity? You’re learning some Spanish.

Hintze: I have been doing the Spanish-learning apps. I recently looked into a class that I could do once a week where it starts as baby Spanish and works its way up. That’s an in-person video thing that I keep saying I’m going to commit to and then, you know, one thing or another happens. I’m actually expecting, I’m seven and a half months pregnant right now.

De Leon: Oh my God, I didn’t realize! Congratulations.

Hintze: So I am at the point where I might not be able to return to Guatemala for a while. My mom understood that it might be a while before I returned. And she knows I have my family here. Even just in expecting, it’s funny because my man, he’ll be like, “Oh, you know, you’re going to have a little you running around here, someone that looks just like you.” And it’s hard for me to grasp. Because I’m like, I see it as, like, little him. We’re having a boy, but it’s just, in general, it’s weird to think that I couldn’t, like, I don’t imagine a version of myself, you know? I think that’s also because I’ve never really had that in my life.

I’ve had my parents in Guatemala and then here, I don’t quite look like my family. It’s an interesting part, where I’m at right now.

De Leon: Yeah, this is amazing. I’m going to cry. I mean, you’re continuing the story, you know, and now you’re becoming a mother. Just when I think this story is not going to get richer, it really is. It’s fascinating. I’m really happy for you. And your son.

This feels like a closure in some way, but a new beginning too, because now you’ll be able to raise your son and maybe he will look like you, maybe he won’t. I have two sons. One looks like my carbon copy and the other one is blond with fair skin and blue eyes. The genetics are really interesting. I’ve never done any of those tests or anything, but now I’m super curious. I wasn’t for the longest time, and suddenly it’s—I think having kids who look different from one another makes you wonder about all the recessive genes and the history and the centuries of families and generations in Guatemala. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’m happy we’re in touch now. This is so Guatemalan, but cualquier cosa, whatever you need, I’m here for you. If you have questions about raising kids or having a baby or any of that, please, please reach out. This is also so Guatemalan. We just met but ask me anything! I’m so happy for you and I feel so full and grateful that you shared your story today. Thank you.

Hintze: Thank you. And I appreciate your time and all the questions as well. And I appreciate the opportunity to share my story. So, thank you.


Jennifer De Leon is author of the YA novels Borderless (Simon & Schuster, 2023); Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (Simon & Schuster, 2020), which was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection; and the essay collection White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, & Writing (UMass Press, 2021), which received the Juniper Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (University of Nebraska Press, 2014), an anthology that won an International Latino Book Award, and the author of two forthcoming children’s picture books—Sammy and Samuel and a biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú. Associate professor of creative writing at Framingham State University and a faculty member in the Newport MFA in Creative Writing program at Salve Regina University, she has published her prose in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. In 2022 De Leon founded Story Bridge, which brings together people from all walks of life to shape, share, and hear each other’s unique stories. She makes her home outside Boston with her husband and two sons. Connect with her @jdeleonwriter on Instagram or at her website, www.jenniferdeleonauthor.com. (updated 4/2024)

With Esteban Rodríguez and Ben Black, she coedited To Never Have Risked Our Lives: An AGNI Portfolio of Central American and Mexican Writing.

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