Craigslist: You Can’t Sell Your Baby, But You Can Advertise FOR a Baby

Expectant Mothers Posting Ads on Craigslist to Find Adoptive Homes?

Apparently this is a great way to strike horror and outrage in the adoption and non-adoption affected communities.  It is immediately a sign of bad mothering to post an advertisement where you seek to remove your parental obligations to one’s offspring. It doesn’t matter that these mothers we’re not selling their children, but trying to find “forever families” for adoption. The mother placing the ad is in bad form.

“I can’t believe that some people can be so irresponsible. What were they thinking?! Children/babies aren’t pets which can be listed on something like Craigslist. I hope they get what they deserve after pulling this stunt!”

Early in 2007  the idea of a mother posting an ad on Craigslist in Texas was a horrible act:

“The ad claimed that the baby was between 9-10 months old, as well as reporting that he or she was also healthy and calm. The ad also stated that families with approved homestudies were preferred, but other families could be accepted on a case by case basis. Anyone toss their cookies yet? If you haven’t quite tossed your breakfast yet in disgust, don’t give up hope, because it doesn’t stop there, it gets just a teensy bit worse.

What can be worse than someone placing an ad on a website offering to give away their child? How about the fact that there is nothing that police can do about it? That’s right, police in Texas have stated that while the ad may be a tad bit morally nauseating, that is about all that it is and not against the law at all, as long as the ad was posted by either one of the child’s biological parents. While giving a cash exchange for a child is not legal in Texas, the ad did not come right out and say, ‘hey baby to the highest bidder,’ and therefore was not breaking any laws.”

In 2008, A Craigslist Ad listing an ‘Eight Months Old Baby Boy For Adoption’ was an outrage:

“It’s a little outrageous,” Freeman said, “that this person would post an ad trying to give away her son…. I’m a mother, and I can understand that you can get frustrated with your kids,” she said. “But posting your child on there for free is going too far.”

Back in 2009, a young mother placed a Craigslist Ad to help find adoptive parents for her baby. This is illegal in Seattle Washington:

“The poster described herself as 22 years old and 5 months pregnant. She said she was looking for a wealthy couple to adopt the baby and pay her medical expenses.

Independent adoptions are legal in the state, and so is the practice of adoptive parents paying the birth mother’s expenses. But under state law, only licensed agencies or the Department of Social and Health Services can advertise a child for adoption.

Adoptive parents must be screened by the state, a licensed agency or another qualified party. Once adoptive parents have passed the vetting process, they are allowed to advertise for a child.

Even if it were legal for a pregnant woman to offer up a child on her own, it’s not a good idea, said Carol Mikkelsen, director of programs for Amara, a Seattle adoption agency. “You don’t know who will respond,” she said. “Also, we worry that the birthparents aren’t going to get the services that they need.”

In 2010;  expectant mothers to be are reported for posting ads looking for a home for their child:

“I keep an eye out on craigslist for deals, as well as selling things. Yesterday I saw a lady in the baby listing and childcare listing offering her children (twin boys) to a “forever home”. I reported it along with I think several others because it was removed, then today she is back again! I mean, really people!?!”

In May 0f 2012, there was another Craigslist ad for a three year child that got media attention.

It seems that no matter when, and where, the idea is just completely socially reprehensible when the mother of the child is placing the Craigslist Adoption ad.

But it’s OK for the Adoption Agencies and prospective adoptive apt to do.

Craigslist Ads; Proactive Business as Usual for Adoptive Parents

So the recent Yahoo Shine Craigslist Adoption advertisement story has made the rounds.

Over on Babble, an adoptive mother is all up in arms because the adoption practice of creating Craigslist ads was called “Desperate” on behalf of the adoptive parents.

“The latest adoption sensation is about a couple who’s been described as “desperate” by one major news outlet because they turned to Craigslist in a search for a birth mother. When I read about it, my first thought was, “Don’t get me started again!”

She goes on to say:

“So it is not shocking to me in the least that in our time of social media inter-connectedness, some couples would use the 2012 version of a classified to search for a birth mother. I hate to break it to those who are judging, but this has been going on since children have been placed for adoption — Craigslist is just a new avenue.”

From the viewpoint of the adoptive parents, The Mommy Files asks us to put ourselves in their shoes and be sympathetic:

“This might sound crazy, but think about it. What would you do if you desperately wanted a child and tried IVF countless times without any success? You might consider adopting from another country but regulations are making this increasingly difficult. Russia, for example, tightened its rules for Americans adopting Russian babies, after a flurry of abuse cases enraged the Russian community. You might also sign up with a U.S. adoption agency—and their caseworkers would likely advise you to create a website and a Facebook page about your family for prospective birth moms. Adoption is competitive and you need to sell yourself. This would get you online and you’d quickly learn that some desperate couples are finding babies on Craigslist. Why not try it yourself?”

While I have found some critiques of adoptive parents for placing the advertisements on Craigslist, more often the articles mention that adoptive parents must be careful and guard themselves from scammers.

“Hey, that sounds like a great idea! Let’s get an ad up today!” — there will probably be many more eager couples who fall victim to heartless people who will take advantage of their emotions, hope, and vulnerability all in an effort to scam the heck out them and walk away with a pocket full of cash.”

Adoptive parent using Craigslist to find an adoption situation is such an acceptable practice that agencies such as Lutheran Social Service began offering an outreach class for parents in the domestic adoption program in 2008, after noticing an increase in the number of families who were taking adoption matters into their own hands. The class, which teaches prospective adoptive parents how to communicate with birth parents through these different avenues like Craigslist, Facebook and Twitter.

We also have businesses like My Adoption Advisor which help in this venture and advertise that they “know which papers prohibit adoption ads (even in states that permit them) and can place your ads in hundreds of newspapers across the country with one call, one order, one invoice, and one payment.”

What’s Good for the Goose is Never Equal in Adoption

So when adoptive parents place ads on Craigslist looking to adopt a child they are being: in control, proactive,  using an available recourse, need protection, are smart for cutting expensive adoption costs and we hope they are successful because they are so desperate in their needs and deserving.

When a expectant mother places an ad on Craigslist looking to find a family for her child she is a bad mother, a scammer, needs CPS to find her, and pathetic. We hope the authorities find her and take her kid away.

  • Adoptive Parents on Craigslist = Networking
  • Potential Birthmother on Craigslist = Baby Selling

Now here’s where I have an issue.  Everyone admits that it costs so much to adopt a child and that the adoptive parents are good for being proactive and cutting costs by trying to find their own at-risk mother to adopt her baby. There is no hint of baby selling because it is adoption and the adoptive parents pay fees to the agency/ lawyers.  The Adoption agencies and lawyers can place ads in some states and that’s not considered baby buying, because they make their money from the fees and they do not pay the potential birth parents either, just pay expenses. So money does change hands in the adoption process, from the adoptive parents through the professionals and then after they take their chunk, some ends up providing for the birth mother.  We also change what we call the money that changes hands, so we don’t think it’s baby buying.

Now, it’s considered OK for the potential birthmother to answer an ad, but she cannot place one, because then she is selling her baby.  But, in reality she IS selling her child, she’s just not getting a good deal since she is going through the middle man. Yet, as a society we are outraged that a mother might consider getting something monetarily in exchange for her child.  It’s OK if the adoptive parents get what they want with money; it’s OK that the adoption agencies and professionals get what they want in money; but it’s NOT OK if a birthparent gets any monetary compensation for her part in the adoption equation. She has to willingly give up her child for only documented expenses and heartaches.

I once saw a Law and Order episode that had a couple on that were investigated for selling their baby to highest bidding adoptive couple.  I have tried to look it up so I could get the direct quote, but I couldn’t find it, yet I recall enough. The biological parents had, it turns out, been forced to relinquish before, and the mother, upon being confronted with their baby bidding plan, said “I realized last time, they only wanted my baby from me. They didn’t care about anything else once I signed off and they all made a deal out of it; the parents, the agency, the lawyers… Why shouldn’t I get something out of this too, besides the heartbreak?”

Of course, we are to view this “mother” as cold, hard and callous, but part of me applauds this fictional character for being right. It’s not that I want to see women getting pregnant and purposely selling off their children for profits. That’s pretty much the way I view surrogacy and I think it’s horrible and exploitative. But I ask, why is it our society thinks it’s OK for the transactions to go one way and profits to be made, yet it’s not OK for the transactions of parental rights to go another way and other parties make the profits? How is it that we can fool ourselves to think that the addition of lawyers and agencies who profit off of adoption make the system more sterile?  Why are we so invested in the idea of this poor young mother willingly giving up her motherhood for some sense of altruism? And where are the concerns that SHE might be scammed out of her child?


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About the Author

Claudia Corrigan DArcy
Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy has been online and involved in the adoption community since early in 2001. Blogging since 2005, her website Musings of the Lame has become a much needed road map for many mothers who relinquished, adoptees who long to be heard, and adoptive parents who seek understanding. She is also an activist and avid supporter of Adoptee Rights and fights for nationwide birth certificate access for all adoptees with the Adoptee Rights Coalition. Besides here on Musings of the Lame, her writings on adoption issue have been published in The New York Times, BlogHer, Divine Caroline, Adoption Today Magazine, Adoption Constellation Magazine,, Lost Mothers, Grown in my Heart, Adoption Voice Magazine, and many others. She has been interviewed by Dan Rather, Montel Williams and appeared on Huffington Post regarding adoption as well as presented at various adoption conferences, other radio and print interviews over the years. She resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, Rye, children, and various pets.

12 Comments on "Craigslist: You Can’t Sell Your Baby, But You Can Advertise FOR a Baby"

  1. Oh, I have another question: Why aren’t infertile people expected to just deal with it if treatments fail? This happens with other medical conditions, why is infertility some sort of marker as to who deserves a child more than anyone else?

    • I’ve wondered the same thing. And why are birthmothers told to just “go into therapy and move on” after giving away their baby? Why couldn’t the adoptive parents just gone to therapy and moved on from their pain of being infertile?? Such double standards.

    • ultimatebeauty | August 12, 2013 at 3:58 am |

      i completely agree with this column. most people just blindly follow what society says without putting much logical thought into this. i am experiencing an unplanned pregnancy at 29 and i would rather have an early termination than go to an adoptive agency so they can pimp out my uterus. im an independent escort and i wouldnt be able to work much at all if i were pregnant. seems so ridiculous for the adoption agency to keep so much money and all id get is some medical expenses paid. they are pimping out uteruses, plain and simple. i also hate the “forever home” myth. im not able to raise children because i was abused by my adoptive parents and i have long lasting mental/emotional issues as a result. you are handing your kid to a stranger so there are really no guarantees.

  2. The Mommy Files asks us to put ourselves in their shoes and by sympathetic:
    “This might sound crazy, but think about it. What would you do if you desperately wanted a child and tried IVF countless times without any success?”

    What would I do? I would accept the fact that I am not meant to parent. The end.

    • You better believe it. I spent 11 years working my ass off in ballet training. I was very, very dedicated and very, very good. I devoted myself to it the way top athletes devote themselves to training for the Olympics. It was my life. And when I was 17, I was in a car accident that ruined any hope for a ballet career.

      I grieved and cried and raged, and then I faced the fact that I would never achieve the goal that meant more to me than any other and went in search of other passions, other goals, and other paths to fulfillment.

      And guess what? I FOUND THEM.

      That’s what healthy, stable, balanced human beings do. They come to terms with the fact that we don’t always get what we want and THEY FUCKING COPE.

  3. I’m with Linda. How come “accepting what life has thrown our way” is not an option for those who desperately want (but certainly don’t need in order to survive) a child but are infertile? There are plenty of ways to nurture a child without advertising the desire to purchase one off Craigslist.

    As an adoptee, I’ve been forced to accept having a fake birth certificate and being cut off from my origins and family. This might sound crazy, but think about it. Infertile people are adults who have actual choices. What would you do if you had absolutely no choice but to accept that your legal birth certificate will always be a lie and that you do not have a legal right to know who put you on the planet because you were adopted through Craigslist as an infant by desperate infertile people who were only focused on getting a kid, any kid, and didn’t stop to actually consider how that kid might feel or be treated? Yeah. That’s called being adopted. Try putting yourselves in our shoes for a change.

    • Hi, I am an adoptive mom and I have an do think about how the child will feel. I have all 3 of our kids original BC’s, they have their original families very present in their lives and know exactly who put them on this planet. Some infertile people like myself will not do anything just to get a kid. After 2 years of trying to adopt a second time, I said no to a baby being born in 10 days because they wanted a closed adoption. So not all of us will do whatever it takes to get a baby. I said no because I wouldn’t do that do that child, ever.

    • Your children are still young tho. Will you be able to handle the openness when your children are older and won’t need you in order to contact their bio parents? What if they think later on that they would rather live with their bio parents? What if the bio parents say or do things that you don’t agree with that aren’t abusive or neglectful?

      I really wonder because the only people I see extolling the virtues of open adoption all have children who are not teens.

    • I am in it forever, I love my children and their birth families more than life. Yes, my kids are still young, but like I have thought of their well being before they were even on this earth, I will continue to do the same as they grow. Having all of their family in their lives is what’s best even if it ever gets hard for me. My son is just starting to be able to contact his birth momma on his own and I will encourage it with him and my other two. I’m sure it’s hard to believe, but I won’t take the easy way out, my kids lives and emotional well being are at stake I will never jeopardize that for my own comfort!

  4. The Washington Law was a measure – I believe was originally put in the 1939 Adoption Act to combat black market adoptions and protect mothers. It was revised in 1951 to read:

    “SEC.2. Section 26.36.040, R.C.W., as follows:
    No maternity hospital, physician, midwife, or nurse, or any other person shall directly or indirectly dispose of infants by placing them in family homes prior to entry of order of relingquisment has been entered: Provided that this shall not apply to spouses either of whome is the parent of such child where the family home wherein the child is placed in the home of the spouses.

    No person, as an inducement to a woman to go to any maternity hospital, maternity home or prlace of refuge for confinement care, shall in any way offer to dispose of any child or advertise that he will give children for aodption, or hold himself out directly or indirectly as being able to dispose of children.”

    I’m sure the wording has most likely changed since then, but it was to protect mothers from coercion.

  5. Looking for a baby or child who needs a loving parent

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