Date: 1999-05-29

New York Daily News (NY)

Families who adopted Mexican children through an illegal ring are "living with fear and anxiety" that their beloved children will be taken from them, an attorney said yesterday.

Although U.S. and Mexican authorities said the children probably will remain with their adoptive parents, attorney Aaron Britvan said nothing "can take away the feelings that anything can happen."

"Obviously, these people are going to live with anxiety until this is settled," said Britvan, who represents six of the dozen or more metro-area families allegedly victimized by the scam.

Several of the adoptive parents declined interview requests yesterday, saying they needed privacy amid the international outrage triggered by the charges.

"We're under enough pressure," said David Kruchkow, a car salesman from Bayside, Queens, who with his wife, Sara, adopted a now-3-year-old Mexican girl named Maria. "I'm trying to earn a living to provide a home and education for my child."

Authorities said the Kruchkows and other families were victimized by Arlene Lieberman and Arlene Reingold, who allegedly ran an illegal adoption business from their neighboring Medford, L.I., homes.

The women and Mexican attorney Mario Reyes Burgueno were charged by federal and state prosecutors on Thursday. Using Mexican women who posed as the children's mothers, Reyes Burgueno smuggled the youngsters from Agua Prieta, Mexico, to Arizona and then New York, authorities said.

Mexican investigators are trying to determine whether any of the children were illegally sold by their biological families or kidnapped. If not, the children probably will remain with their adoptive families, Mexico Legal Affairs Consul Norberto Terrazas said in Manhattan.

"It is a very delicate case," Terrazas said. "Our aim is to avoid any harm to the children in any possible way."

The Immigration and Naturalization Service expects to help the families obtain legal residency papers unless investigators determine the children were abducted or sold, said Susan Young, an agency spokeswoman.

Rabbi Leonard Troupp, of Dix Hills, L.I., sympathizes with the plight of the adoptive families. He tried to adopt a 10-year-old Salvadoran girl named Patty through Lieberman and Reingold in 1992, but Salvadoran officials intervened at the last moment.

Troupp, suspecting that illegal baby-selling was behind the snag, said he declined when Lieberman and Reingold later offered to arrange a Mexican adoption through Reyes Burgueno.

"What if Patty were here today and we had established a relationship, and then found out she had been taken from her parents?" Troupp asked. "We'd be devastated."


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