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.