Desperate mother who ‘sold’ her toddler on Craigslist deserves help not hatred
OTHER parents – our occasional look at bad parenting – presents Stephanie Redus, the mother who tried to sell her three-year-old son Conner Danger Redus on Craigslist. The 29-year-old Texan has been charged with “unlawfully intentionally and knowingly” placing the boy in danger.
Her ad went thus:
“Hi, I’m trying to adopt out my three year old son. I’m not in a good place in my life and don’t feel like I can care for him properly, but I don’t know where to start. If you or know anyone who is interested in caring for him please let me know. I’m a single mom and can’t do this. Thanks, Desperate.”
This desperate woman is admitting to her own failings and crying out for help, right? Good that Craigslist reported her to the authorities. But Redus is pregnant and says her condition means she is unable to “take her medication to combat her depression and her anxiety”. Can we be compassionate?
Of course, her ad has worked. Conner will surely be removed from his mother’s care, although not placed in a home of her choosing. Chances are Redus’s other child will be removed from her at birth.
The law appears to state that the mother is in line for a $10,000 fine and/or a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years. How will a long sentence and a hefty fine help her children?
Note: In 2012, 202 babies were born to imprisoned Texas offenders. Some get access to the Baby and Mother Bonding Initiative (BAMBI). Offenders and their newborns are housed at the Santa Maria Hostel in Houston. Others are placed with carers.
Does keeping mother and baby together in a secure environment work at BAMBI?
Prison officials and policy-makers are increasingly aware of how much damage can result from separating mothers and infants. Those who experienced it firsthand, like social worker, advocate and mother Veronica Lockett, said the trauma of losing a mother to prison led her straight into prison as well. In an eloquent letter to then-chairman Jim McReynolds of the Texas House Corrections Committee in 2010, Lockett described how a chaotic family was still a family.
“At 12, my mother’s rights [were] terminated without my consent, and my younger siblings and I were adopted out like slaves during the trade. No one ever asked me if I wanted to see my mother again. No one even asked me if I wanted to visit my mother in prison,” Lockett wrote.
“A mother who drinks or sometimes takes drugs is still the mother of her child,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and sponsor of the bill that created BAMBI. And if that mother could receive intensive therapy and education, he asks, wouldn’t a rehabilitated mother be a healthier role model for the child and possibly break the cycle of incarceration?