SARALAND, Ala. (WKRG) – Many couples want to expand their families through adoption but the process isn’t easy.
A couple in Saraland had an out-of-the-box idea to adopt a baby. They turned to Craigslist! Yes, Craigslist…the site where most people buy and sell things like cars and furniture.
“The reaction I get is laughter. People think I am joking but I am like, ‘No this is really what happened,” Shane Starnes said.
Whitney and Shane Starnes felt called to adopt for years. After being told it would take years if they used an agency, they decided to “put themselves out there.” Whitney posted on Facebook, MySpace, and other social platforms. On a whim, she decided to post on Craigslist.
“We went on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and that’s deader than a doornail. l thought to myself. Craigslist is free. It doesn’t cost anything. That’s one of the things about adoption. It’s expensive. I was looking at every avenue that was affordable,” Whitney said.
Starnes said she posted the ad in the community section. It read: “Loving adventurous Couple Hoping to Adopt (Mobile, AL). Are you considering adoption? If so, our family may just be the answer to your prayers. You would certainly be the answer to ours.” The ad was placed in 600 cities across the country.
The Starnes knew they were opening themselves up to scammers but decided to take the chance anyway. They say that, indeed, they received several inquiries from people looking to steal their money. They had to be very careful about how much personal information they released.
“We had a lot of international people, you know from places like Costa Rica, that if we would fly them to Mobile, they would have the baby. Crazy scams,” Whitney said. She also shared about another woman who contacted them, trying to extort them.
“She said I have a family in Alabama that’s willing to pay me $15,000 for my baby. What’s your best offer? And I said that’s crazy. You can’t sell a baby,” Whitney added.
Miraculously, a birth mother contacted them that they believed had good intentions. After talking to her via email, they hired an attorney to help them navigate the last few months of the woman’s pregnancy. The birth mother was actually from the West Coast but just happened to be living in West Mobile, miles from their home. They call that a “God thing.”
“She said I found your add on Craigslist, and I would like for you to parent my child and I thought, ‘Lord this is crazy or really awesome,'” Whitney said.
Baby Kinley Emersyn Starnes was born on July 13th, 2018, and mom Whitney, was the first person who got to hold her.
The Starnes officially adopted Kinley in November in Judge Don Davis’ courtroom in Mobile. The Starnes and the birth mother chose a closed adoption, which means they do not have contact with the birth mother except through sending her monthly photographs.
Attorney Richard Shields says the Starnes were “lucky.” He is not affiliated with their case. He says they opened themselves up to people with bad intentions. Shields has handled countless adoptions through the years and has never had a couple find a birth mother through Craigslist. In fact, he says he would not recommend it.
“There are a lot of people who would take their money in a heartbeat and have no intention of placing the child,” Shields said. “Boy, with that level of publicity they are holding themselves out to a lot of people who will scam them in a heartbeat.”
The Starnes attribute their good fortune to prayer. They know how lucky they are. As for whether they would use Craiglist again to adopt? They said, “probably not.” They don’t know if they would get that lucky again.
“Every bit of grief, every penny I spent, every 600 Craigslist listings I put, it’s been worth it every time I look at Kinley. She is the greatest blessing of our life,” Whitney said.
If you are interested in adopting a child, the local non-profit agency, Adoption Rocks is a good place to start. You can find resources such as adoption agencies and attorneys.
Whitney Starnes says she would be glad to answer questions from anyone looking to adopt. Her email is KESadoption@gmail.com.