Neglect Leads to Neglect – Adoption is a Privilege not a Right

These words, spoken by federal District Court (and former NY Family Court) Judge Richard M. Berman, ushered in the 11 year sentence he levied on impostor Judith Leekin for adoption fraud. You might remember Leekin from last year’s news as the woman who lied to adopt 11 disabled children while raking in more than $1 million in government adoption subsidies.

Berman castigated Leekin for engaging in “a heartless, dangerous money-driven scheme” when she used fake names and lies about the children to defraud social service agencies in New York City and New York state. Berman added, “One cannot be allowed to perpetrate fraud to subvert our adoption system for financial gain.” He exceeded by nearly three years the maximum term that Leekin’s lawyer and prosecutors proposed when she pleaded guilty on May 20.

Prosecutors say Leekin (one of her many aliases) lived lavishly while forcing the adopted children to sleep on the floor of a storage room next to a garage and banning them from entering the house except to use the bathroom or kitchen.

Attorney Howard M. Talenfeld, speaking on behalf of 10 of the children, told the judge that none of the children could testify because they were too damaged by the abuse.

“It seems to me that adoption is a privilege, not a right,” Judge Berman said, “and there should be conditions of accountability and safety and honest intention attached to that privilege, and it would also be useful, in my opinion, if there were active monitoring by responsible agencies.”

Berman also noted that Leekin had been abused as a child. “Neglect leads to neglect,” he said. “Adoption is a privilege, not a right.”

Finally someone who did the right thing. Unlike most of the Cowards in Adoption, Judge Berman deserves a shiny gold star for giving Leekin what she, and so many more, deserve; a nice long sojourn in a federal prison.

2 Replies to "Neglect Leads to Neglect - Adoption is a Privilege not a Right"

  • James R. Marsh
    July 17, 2008 (11:48 am)

    It is so difficult keeping up with corruption and evil. Where is Superman when we need him? This from today’s NYT:

    Officials Accused of Taking Agency Money in Fake Adoptions

    Two officials of New York City’s child-welfare agency and the fiscal director of a Brooklyn foster care agency have been charged with creating phantom adoptions in a scheme to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for the care of children with disabilities or special needs, federal authorities said on Wednesday.

    One of the two officials of the city agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, was also charged with issuing government checks for work that was not performed in return for kickbacks.

    In the phony-adoption scheme, the officials said, two employees used the agency’s computers to create false names and issue checks as if they were subsidies for real adoptions.

    Prosecutors said that the employees figured out a way to manipulate the agency’s computer system to cause adoption subsidy payments to be mailed to whomever they wanted.

    “All he needs is a name — any name — to send payments to,” said the United States attorney in Manhattan.

  • Prof. Eileen Mayers Pasztor, DSW
    August 4, 2008 (6:54 pm)

    Thank you for all the valuable information you send. As I have long told my students, and foster and adoptive parents and social workers I train, “To be a foster or adoptive parent or even a child welfare social worker is a privilege, not a right . . . . but to be protected as a child is a right, not a privilege.” Thanks again.