DURHAM: Mom says she didn't try to give away kids on Craigslist - WNEM TV 5

Durham mom says she didn't try to give away kids on Craigslist

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Moshimalee Johnson's ad was posted two weeks ago. Moshimalee Johnson's ad was posted two weeks ago.
Johnson is seen with three of her children.  She recently lost custody of them. Johnson is seen with three of her children. She recently lost custody of them.
DURHAM, N.C. -

A homeless, single mother of five in Durham says an ad she posted on Craigslist, in which she asked for someone to "take her five kids," was not what it seemed. Now, Moshimalee Johnson says she's fighting to get her children back and clear her name.

The ad reads in part, "I am currently homeless and looking for someone to take my five kids until I can find a job and a place to live."

In her first television interview on Tuesday, Johnson explained she was not trying to give her children away in the ad she posted two weeks ago.

"The Craigslist ad was intended to find someplace for me to live with all the kids in addition to finding somebody that could watch the kids at night," Johnson said. "When I looked back at the ad and I read the ad, I saw that it did kind of seem like I was trying to give up the kids, but I didn't go into a whole lot of detail because I thought, once whoever responded to the ad, I would be able to tell them more about what I was looking for."

Still, social service workers removed all five children from her custody just two days after she posted it.

Johnson said she only turned to Craigslist after Durham County Social Services denied her request to temporarily place her children, together, in foster care. She says local charities also turned her down.

Johnson said her children's medical bills have put her in a dire financial situation. She said her oldest child, who is 9 years old, has behavior issues that require ongoing doctor's appointments and her 6-year-old nearly hanged himself by accident in April.

"When I found him, his lips were blue and I thought he was dead," she said.

That near death prompted social worker visits well before the Craigslist ad ever went up.

"But I didn't think they were going to charge me with neglect and tell me I couldn't see the kids except for if a social worker supervised it," Johnson said.

Johnson, who is more than seven months pregnant, says she regrets the wording, but does not regret asking for help.

"If you need some help, ask for it," she said. "Don't stay in a bad situation."

Johnson told WNCN she is not on welfare assistance and has no plans to start. She's also looking for work as a nurse's assistant, at night, so she can continue to take her kids to their doctor's appointments during the day. First, a judge must allow her to have her children back.

WNCN reached out Durham County Social Services, which declined to comment.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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