Free-Range Kids

Mom Jokes '3-Year-Old For Sale, $12 or Best Offer,' Is Investigated for Child Slavery

Humor isn't CPS's strong suit.


Scared kid
Jan Mika / Dreamstime

Have you ever joked about selling your child? CPS could be coming for you next.

Alex McDaniel, a writer for the blog Magnolia State Live, tweets a lot—about sports, books, and politics. She's fun, and not a punch-puller, and when she tweets about her life as a mom, usually it's for laughs. For instance here's one from when her son was 2-years-old:

me: no eating cookies in the bed

2yo: i eating them in my mouth

Love that. So a couple weeks ago, after tweeting about her son using the potty and the funny things he said, she added: "3-year-old for sale. $12 or best offer."

Which kicked off a human trafficking investigation.

As McDaniel wrote on the blog:

The saga began when a caseworker and supervisor from Child Protection Services dropped by my office with a Lafayette County sheriff's deputy. You know, a typical Monday afternoon.

They told me an anonymous male tipster called Mississippi's child abuse hotline days earlier to report me for attempting to sell my 3-year-old son, citing a history of mental illness that probably drove me to do it.

Beyond notifying me of the charges, they said I'd have to take my son out of school so they could see him and talk to him that day, presumably protocol to ensure children aren't in immediate danger. So I went to his preschool, pulled my son out of a deep sleep during naptime, and did everything in my power not to cry in front of him on the drive back to my office.

What happened next? "The most hellish week of my life," she wrote. "As I prepared for a home visit in which my case worker would inspect my home and the possibility of more interviews with my son. All because enough people believed I was actually trying to sell my son on Twitter for $12."

She is kind enough to note that CPS has a hard job to do and that she isn't blaming the agency specifically. Presumably they have to follow up on tips, however ludicrous these might be.

But this is a perfect time to note that we need to do away with anonymous tips. It is far too easy to disrupt anyone's life with a grievance-oriented, "My neighbor is beating her kid." Click.

As McDaniel put it:

What upsets me more is the idea of anyone using an agency designed to protect Mississippi's most vulnerable children as a weapon to take someone down for no legitimate reason.

In the end, with the help of an attorney, McDaniel got the charges dropped within days. Not everyone is as lucky.

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46 responses to “Mom Jokes '3-Year-Old For Sale, $12 or Best Offer,' Is Investigated for Child Slavery

  1. Let’s give the caseworker the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is a law that they must investigate every anonymous tip. But what’s the excuse for the sheriffs office? Law-enforcement has the ability to use their own judgment as to which cases to pursue.

    1. You have to have a functioning intellect, rather than merely a cerebral homing signal fixed on targets of aggression and donuts, to have judgment.

    2. But what’s the excuse for the sheriffs office?

      Seems reasonable that when a CPS worker comes to steal your children from you, they want an armed guard for their protection.

    3. In Maine and Indiana the local CPS office has the ability to screen out reports. Certain emergencies are not able to be screened but this is not one if they took a few days to see her after the report.

  2. Fuck off Child Slaver!

  3. I guess the local hot dog stand that displays the sign. “Unattended children will be sold as slaves” had better watch out. Also all of you here with your orphans.

    1. I prefer the furniture store sign that says “unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy”.

  4. But this is a perfect time to note that we need to do away with anonymous tips. It is far too easy to disrupt anyone’s life with a grievance-oriented, “My neighbor is beating her kid.” Click.


    “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

    Oh, wait. It says “him,” and the accused is a “she.” Never mind.

    1. The actual language is so far from the truth. Also one of the saddest things is when a federal witness to a mob or gang hit gets killed before they can testify.

    2. They get around all of that, by saying it is not a criminal matter, but rather a civil administrative function.
      Without all the Const’l protections, they go right for the jugular, take your kids away first and then figure out everything they care to later.

  5. CPS just wanted to see if the kids was worth the $12.

    1. It wouldn’t be a terrible investment if the kid was the right blood type.

      1. Hugh is about due for his next rejuvenation treatment. Visit his gofundme page to send paypal or, even better, your child’s blood, to keep him wrinkle free. Hugh does not tolerate wrinkles anywhere.

      2. I dunno. Have you considered the tax implications of the investment?

  6. She must think pretty highly of her offspring if she thinks people would pay to take it rather than demand payment.

    1. How much did your mom pay to get rid of you?

      1. More than yours charges for bareback and breakfast.

        1. Really? I find that hard to believe. My mom gets top dollar in the septuagenarian market.

          1. She does make a killer omelet.

            1. I can never keep up on the terminology…

        2. A lot of the thrill of bareback sex is lost with a post-menopausal woman. The thrill is in the possibility of impregnation.

          Man Tony, you are dumb.

          1. Tony has little risk of impregnation when the boys at the local bathhouse run a bareback train on him.

          2. So just like when people ride a roller coaster because of the possibility of decapitation?

      2. The Ransom of Red Chief comes to mind.

    2. LOL, maybe she never read The Ransom of Red Chief.

  7. So, in bureaucratic circles, it’s considered a reasonable assumption that child traffickers would be openly advertising on Twitter?

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  8. She is kind enough to note that CPS has a hard job to do and that she isn’t blaming the agency specifically. Presumably they have to follow up on tips, however ludicrous these might be.

    The follow up is why you have to be “kind enough” to praise the CPS in that situation. Hell that no fury like a bureaucrat dissed.

    1. Because if you are not “kind enough” post attempted snatching, they may come back and try again.

  9. There are millions of childless couples out there who would pay tens of thousands of dollars to give a kid a great home. There are millions of deadbeat and horrible parents out there who would happily give up their kids for the right price. So why not let people sell their kids?

    1. Hell, why not just allow adoption to be easier?

      1. This. It shouldn’t be so hard to adopt a kid.

  10. She’s just a principled Rothbardian ancap

    1. [golf clap]

  11. We live in a culture that he been inured to ratting on whomever you suspect of anything as part of being a “good citizen.” Part of that “Village” thing, I imagine.

  12. She should have said, “not until I get my $12.”

  13. me: no eating cookies in the bed

    2yo: i eating them in my mouth

    Jail her forever, put her kid in a foster home.

  14. She is kind enough to note that CPS has a hard job to do and that she isn’t blaming the agency specifically. Presumably they have to follow up on tips, however ludicrous these might be.

    That and she’s probably smart enough to have figured out that speaking out against the CPS shitheads will result in them making her life even more hellish.

    1. CPS shitheads face no accountability, ergo shitheadedness is incentivized. Smart call, lady.

  15. Having been on the receiving end of such BS I can empathize with her. At least her visit wasn’t a knock on the door at midnight with three cops in tow (who didn’t look very happy to be there, one of them had just been at my house 5 days earlier when I actually had to deliver my daughter myself on the living room sofa).

    Some busybody at a soccer game noticed some bruises and reported to DYFS that my wife had beaten her that day. Actually, the niece had tripped and fallen, got some nice bruises on her leg. After about 20 minutes of grilling by this DYFS Nazi, err, I mean Social Worker, and asking the whereabouts of the niece (she had gone to her grandmother’s earlier), my wife was nearly ready to break down and was starting to cry.

    I asked the social worker if there were any charges being filed, she said ‘no’, so I asked her to leave. The cops beat her to the door, and she was in shock about it. Sometimes you just have to know your rights from the get-go to keep them off of your back.

    1. The problem is that she talked to them in the first place. “Come back with a court order” is what she should have said. There are some nutty judges out there, but i doubt any would sign an order based on this tweet.

      1. Oh, I bet there is. Particularly when children are involved. The system will tear apart as many families as it needs to to save a child.

      2. The problem is in many states that doesn’t work. In AZ DCS workers are allowed to immediately remove a child if the worker has “reasonable suspicion the child is in danger”. If you refuse to cooperate immediately that’s enough for them to suspect you’re up to something and take the child.

        Even worse, there’s perverse incentive as the state gets federal money for every child seized plus the host family gets quite a bit, such that there’s many that live off of what they get from hosting kids taken by DCS.

        So the state gets lots of money from taking kids without a warrant or a charge and the host family has incentive to claim the child showed signs of abuse to keep their meal ticket around.

  16. If this were MA I’d blame CPS on voters & democracy, but, this being MS, I blame in-breeding and a shortage of tar & feathers.

  17. I got my kid taken from me for letting her eat at McDonalds, letting her have soda on Sunday mornings, weighing her on our bathroom scale, showing her a copy of a lawsuit, and asking her how about her medications being given to her without my consent.
    Sounds ridiculous, but it took 1 1/2 years to litigate it before the charges were eventually dropped by CPS.
    During that time I was only allowed to see my kid 1 hour a week in an austere room.

    People would think I am exaggerating this, but I caught the CPS workers setting me up for these charges on hidden camera, so that no one could deny what happened:

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