Glen Cove resident Sarah Cecilie Finkelstein Waters had a very unusual childhood—and her story is one worth hearing. Abducted by her father at the age of 4, she was brought to New York from Norway and lived in hiding for many years before finally being able to reunite with her mother. Waters has been working on her memoir for the past few years, but has hit a significant road block: the cost of hiring a professional book editor. She recently set up a GoFundMe account as a way to raise money in order to get the book polished and ready to submit to a publisher.
“This is the last step in turning my manuscript, all 100,000 words of it, into a book,” said Waters, 46.
Her book, tentatively titled Shikseleh: A Childhood on The Run, A Story of Child Abduction and Deception that Spans Two Continents and Two Religions is about her childhood, her young adulthood and how she found her way back to her mother after so many years away from her.
“It is a glimpse into the life of a hidden child, spirited away into the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish world that was lured into helping my father hide me. I was taught to fear my mother, beg for money to support our hidden lives and lie to everyone about the truth of my identity,” said Waters.
She said that parental alienation—the process by which children can be taught to fear and reject a loving parent—is a big theme in this book.
“In my case, my father used religion, culture and the simple passage of time to disconnect me from my mother. So many children deal with alienation, and there is a need for more insight into how children get alienated from a parent and what can be done to help children who are caught in the crossfires of divorce and custodial conflict,” she said. “I hope that my book can be useful in building a dialogue about children of divorce and how to help them deal with conflicts between parents.”
A married mother of two boys, Waters has been active in getting her story out there and hopes to help others. She’s held discussions through the Ethical Humanist Society and was interviewed by WPIX last fall about her story. Just last week she was quoted in an article in The New York Times asking for her perspective on the case of Kamiyah Mobley, an 18-year-old who recently learned she was stolen as a newborn.
“Years ago, I had no intention of making my story public. I actually kept it very private,” said Waters.
As a student at Hunter College, she began interning at Child Find America and created a newsletter for families.
“I was sort of thrust onto the scene as a spokesperson,” she said. “Parents wanted insight and a lot of people wanted to understand it from a child’s perspective. It’s become a mission for me to help parents and kids connect.”
She asserts that healing comes from understanding. Waters has been in touch with an accomplished memoir editor who would be able to help her organize and the develop her story and has also spoken to literary agents who are interested in the manuscript. She is at the point now where, she has a very solid story basis that is simply in need of a professional touch. To help her reach her goal, donate at www.gofundme.com/SarahsMemoir.