Tina Freeman, a mother of four and stepmother of four more, was browsing Craigslist for day care services today when she came across what she called a shocker.
"Eight Months Old Baby Boy For Adoption," was the pitch at the online ad site. She clicked and found a photo of an infant in a crib. "I cannot continue to provide for my son," the caption says, "please come an adopt him."
"First thing I did was I bookmarked it so I could keep it," Freeman said. "Then I called the DCF."
The Florida Department of Children & Families told her there was nothing they could do. "A parent has the right to give their child to anyone they want," Freeman quoted the office as saying.
Jeff Rainey, who runs the agency that oversees local foster care and adoptions for DCF, said he has never seen such a solicitation. He doesn't think it's illegal.
"It's the first time I've heard of anything like this, to be honest with you," said Rainey, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Hillsborough Kids Inc.
What is required in any adoption is completing a long series of required steps.
"If you want that to be legal," Rainey said, "you have to have all the appropriate court and legal documents. If a parent wants to give a child away, they have to go through appropriate channels."
Typically for a parent giving up a child, even with all the legal paperwork, the cost is minimal, Rainey said.
The ad at Craigslist was taken down today. Freeman said she wonders whether it was pulled by site administrators or the baby was given away.
Craigslist did not respond to e-mail seeking comment.
"It's a little outrageous," Freeman said, "that this person would post an ad trying to give away her son."
Besides calling DCF, she sent an e-mail to the governor's office in Tallahassee.
"There has to be an easier way for a parent who is unable to care for a child to do it legally and properly," she wrote, "so that the child is not in harm's way."
"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."