Adoption on Craigslist
Her name was Stephanie, and she was living in Huffman, Texas when she made the fateful decision to put a child up for adoption on Craigslist.
Stephanie Redus was 29, and pregnant at the time that she posted an ad for adoption on Craigslist, seeking to find a home for her three-year-old son. She claimed in her Craigslist ad that she was a single mom and that she was not able to provide for her child. (She was serious enough about it to ask at least one person that responded to her ad to provide her with photos of his home.)
To her credit, she didn’t seem to be looking for money. However, there were still a few problems with this approach. For one thing, Stephanie Redus posted that Craigslist ad while at work. And she was reportedly married at the time– to her son’s father. And unbeknownst to her, Texas law prohibits any individuals from advertising to place or adopt a child via any medium, unless they are working with a licensed Texas adoption agency that is clearly identified in that ad. Authorities investigated her, and Stephanie claimed that she’d been suffering from anxiety and depression at the time, but had not actually intended to give away her son.
Stephanie was subsequently charged with a misdemeanor, and her son was placed in the care of Child Protective Services before being turned over to his father. Today, she is in school and taking voice lessons, and she is still caring for both her boys.
In Tennessee, however, another couple is facing felony charges for having advertised their 5-month-old baby boy on Craigslist. They sold him for $3k in cash– to an undercover officer in a Dollar General store parking lot in Asheville, TN. (The mother in question, Deanna Greer, is already pregnant again.) The child is now in state care, but how is this young man to ever understand his worth, given this sad chapter in the very beginning of his life’s story?
Adoption via advertising, inappropriate as it may seem, is not exactly a new concept.
Decades ago, desperate women advertised available children in local newspapers, so however, irresponsible and foolhardy as such an approach may seem, it is certainly a time-tested approach, even if the technology has changed.
In more recent times, of course, it has become adoptive parents who advertise for children, and this, too, has become just as problematic from a child welfare perspective, as it exposes parents-in-crisis and vulnerable children to a whole new variety of risks.
The root of all evil
It’s no secret that adoption agencies and adoption attorneys today advise prospective adopters to cast a wide net in their search for designated adoption opportunities. However, when would-be adopters seek to entice potential parents with promises of material assistance, in Texas, that’s when an ethical and legal line has been crossed.
Abrazo reported one such ad to authorities not long ago, when a prospective adoptive couple in Texas posted an ad on Craigslist offering a payment of $2500 to any mother who would give them her child. The problem here wasn’t so much with the amount– because licensed adoption agencies in Texas can and do provide that much support (and more) in housing and groceries and clothing and transportation– as Texas agencies are allowed by law to do.
The issue, however, is that it is blatantly illegal for any individual to use gifts or payments as a lure to induce someone to place a child for adoption OR to reward them for doing so, and that was most certainly the intent of this family who was advertising for a baby in clear violation of Texas law.
Another couple from East Texas claims that they were told by a Palestine Police Department officer that it was fine to give money to a potential birthmother “once the kid was in their hands.” Devin Allen of Athens admits she had already given alleged adoption scammer Amanda Magee, who contacted her via Facebook, thousands of dollars in cash without ever verifying her pregnancy with a doctor. Despite warnings that Texas laws prohibit such payments, in November, Allen still “informed Magee that she would not be sending any money until the baby had been handed over and the required paperwork was signed, at which point she and her husband would “hand her more (money) than what she needed,” a clear example of the kind of inducement that is illegal in Texas adoptions… regardless of whether any police officer with whom Allen says she spoke knows Texas’ laws against such payments.
What’s wrong with buying a baby on Craigslist, or selling a child online? To us the answer seems obvious: children are not products to be bought or sold. Beyond this, though, what kind of parent would purchase a child, and how could you trust such a person to treat that child properly, should they later decide the child isn’t living up to their expectations? If people are desperate enough to break the law to get a child, how will they teach their child/ren to become law-abiding citizens? If somebody is willing to collect cash in exchange for a child in violation of the law, what else might they extort money for? And how can loving parents ever explain to their beloved son or daughter that they were acquired for an illegal cash payment (or traded for a used car, or whatever else is the desired currency in the average blackmarket adoption nowadays?)
Adoption is an intricate arrangement that is too sacred and too important to be reduced to a Craigslist transaction. There are maternity records to be evaluated and homestudies and background checks to be conducted, and hours of counseling to be provided to both parties in order to ensure that all parties’ interests are being protected– but especially those of the child at the heart of any adoption to be done.
Internet sites like Craigslist and Backpage and others of their ilk may have their purposes, but child placement surely should NOT be one of them. If you’re considering an adoption on Craigslist, please call Abrazo (210-342-5683) or another licensed adoption agency instead, for the safety of any child you may be thinking of placing or adopting.