Is Your Baby for Sale?

I’m no lover of fear-mongering when it comes to parenting.

I figure, if you’re not watching your kids, at least you should be watching the people who are watching your kids and if you’re not doing that, well, at least you must have some idea of the risks you’re taking.

But when the LAPD Blog warns that two nannies in an Encino park were approached by a guy who offered to buy the babies they were minding, the daddy in me has two simultaneous reactions: shudder, retch and the urge to run into the streets and playgrounds screaming, “PARENTS BEWARE!!!”

Because out on the playgrounds, your kids are beyond the reach of Orwellian tech like NannycheckOnline and you have to fall back on sites like I Saw Your Nanny – uh, by which time it’ll probably be too late.

What are the odds this will wind up the plot of a straight-to-video movie within 2 months?

Details follow:

Los Angeles police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man who has solicited at least two women to buy babies in their care. Both incidents occurred this week near the swing area of Genesta Park in Encino.

One nanny, who was approached, reported both incidents to police on April 11, 2007. In the first occurrence, a man in his 40s approached her at the park around 2:30 PM on April 9. He offered to buy the baby she was watching, but the woman declined.

The next day, April 10, the same nanny saw the same man approach another nanny who was caring for a baby. After the man left, the first nanny approached the second and asked her what the man wanted. The woman confirmed that he offered to buy her baby …

Persons with information should call Detective Moses Castillo, Juvenile Division, at 213-485-4220. On weekends or during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).

If you have to wonder about your own nanny on this count, it might be time to consider offering her a nice raise …

20 Replies to “Is Your Baby for Sale?”

  1. Give me a break–don’t you people have anything else going on to worry about? Rather than paranoically shrieking about the danger of your nanny selling your baby, maybe join the rest of human civilization and consider accepting the responsibility of being an actual parent: yes, being a parent includes the act of “parenting”. So, cancel your daily spas and take care of your goddam kids, maybe? Sounds like a solution to me.

  2. George, are you saying that any parent who hires a nanny deserves to have their child sold on the black market?

    Are you seriously suggesting that one-on-one care by an individual is worse than daycare? (I am not suggesting that daycare is bad, but clarifying whether you believe it is superior to hiring a nanny.)

    Do you genuinely believe that all parents who employ a nanny are at the spa instead of caring for their children?

    Do you actually think that parents should be worried about anything other than their children’s welfare?

    I am genuinely curious. Your comment has me baffled.

  3. Annika, responses to your questions:

    #1) Absolutely! I am a firm believer in the invisible hand of the market, baby distribution included. (sarcasm alert. Your question was clearly not a serious one–my response in kind)

    #2) I said nothing about daycare, so your question is apropos of nothing. That said, having a nanny is a luxury–not forced on anyone–and therefore complaints about the dangers of kidnapping strike me as ridiculous and completely irrelevant to 99+% of the world’s population. Some perspective? Hence, my suggestion to either take care of your own kids or take them somewhere where the chance they will be, uh, sold is held to a minimum (e.g., daycare).

    #3) I anticipated this response. This is the “My spouse and I both must work, but we just don’t trust those horrible daycares” response. Here’s the deal. If you can afford a nanny, I think it sounds a little silly to play the *must* work card. Of course, it’s also possible you’re illegally employing undocumented workers, which is another issue altogether.

    #4) Also unserious.

    The upshot: you’re a parent. Take care of your kids. You’re a working parent, but fearful of exposing your child to the ring of baby-selling nannies ready to do business with the underworld? Bring your kids to a daycare.

    Finally, my comment has you baffled? Well, the silliness of this concern has me baffled.

  4. George:

    FWIW, I’m not big on nannies in general – both my wife and I work (mortgages in this town being the huge cash-suck that they are) but we had ours in day care centers in their early years and so far they haven’t turned into little axe murderers. That said, I’ve known some good and very dedicated nannies, and don’t buy the idea of any of them thinking selling off their charges was a good idea.

    That said, just curious – are you a parent?

  5. George is obviously not a parent because if he were he’d know that the cost of daycare in LA is pretty comparable to the cost of one on one care.

  6. OK reality check….baby napping for sale is nothing new been going on for years…you are only hearing about it now? Most of what you pick up on is deep in the realm of urban legend pal. Keep tabs on your kids and who they are with applies when they are babes or unruly teens like mine.

  7. Yup, I saw the lapd blog mention, but that basic story has been floating since mine were babes and I was a valley dweller. Doesn’t change the urban myth that they want our blond blue eyed babes to sell south of the border urban legend. Whatever.

  8. Sandra

    The cost of quality daycare in LA is ridiculous. The nannies that we are talking about at Genesta Park are not British au pairs if you catch my drift.

  9. Frazgo’s right. And, hilariously, the race element runs both ways: in Guatemala, every year or two one of the major newspapers revives the rumor that white foreigners are running baby-napping rings and selling Guatemalan babies for a variety of reasons–the one that sells most copy is the organ harvesting rumor. Gotta love that version. Oh, and a white tourist lady was beaten to death by an angry mob during one of these rumor rounds back in 1994 or so.

  10. Laura, maybe I’m not catching your drift. Are you implying that nannies are cheaper in L.A. because a large percentage of them are undocumented workers? If so, I accounted for that in my comment #3. But if you go through legal channels, I highly doubt you’d find nannies cheaper than daycares, on the whole.

  11. George

    I would hope that becoming a parent doesn’t mean losing yourself in the process. Some parents do ‘have’ to work and choose daycare or nannies, legal or not. There are others who maybe don’t ‘have’ to work, but choose to do so because they enjoy their work. I don’t think that’s selfish at all. Working and having someone else look after your children doesn’t make you less of a parent. I’m just happy that as a woman I have the choice to work or not. I for one am not interested in being in Leave It To Beaver’s mom.

  12. in my experience here in LA nannies are much more expensive than daycare and i feel like my kid is getting “high quality” daycare in our silverlake hood. i would like to add that many people who do work (like me) had to have a nanny part time (to cover the days that i worked) until my kid was one because it is EXTREMELY hard to find good day care options for kids under 1 or even under 15/18 months. and yes, i had to work to continue to pay off student loans, car insurance, mortgage, etc. my salary, small as it is for a part time worker, still allows us to pay for childcare and other bills.

  13. What’s the problem? I offered $50 and a box of chocolates for the baby, and it was quite ugly and ill mannered! I thought it was a good bargain. Sell while the market is hot!

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