Selling your kid in NYC

In an episode of Law & Order from 1996, a defense lawyer says “Selling your kid may be despicable but it’s not illegal.” Cut to the next scene and the District Attorney says “She’s right - there’s no statute against selling your kid.”

Uh…what? You can sell your kid in New York City with no repercussions? How about elsewhere? I know this is TV and not real life but that doesn’t sound like something the writers of any show would make up.

The title of this episode is “Slave”, for what it’s worth.

Since slavery was abolished in the US, I don’t think you can buy or sell any one. It’s not limited to your kid: you can’t even sell your unwanted mother-in-law.

Well, they say you can buy anything on Canal Street…
It’s been a while, but didn’t that episode involve a biological parent who was paid to consent to an adoption? Not literally “selling” your kid, in that case.

ETA: I do have a bunch of early-season L&O DVD’s at home. I’ll pop that one in tonight if nobody can come up with a more detailed synopsis by then.

The episode was about a kid who shot someone, under orders from a drug dealer. It’s revealed that the kid was not so much “working for” the drug dealer but rather the mother “traded” the kid to the drug dealer in exchange for paying off her debts to said drug dealer. So the kid “belongs” to the drug dealer and that is how the drug dealer was able to spring the kid from the hospital and not be charged with kidnapping.

Still, I’m mostly focused on the words of the lawyer and the DA. I just watched the 2 scenes and typed out their words exactly. The words themselves puzzle me, regardless of all the circumstances in the rest of the episode.

ETA - Nevermind, bad memory

If you put your child in any serious danger it’s covered by the child abuse and neglect laws. So a mother who sold her child to a drug dealer would be brought up on charges for child abuse or neglect, rather than for the specific crime of selling children.

Otherwise, NY Social Services Law § 374(b) prevents anyone from selling away their parental rights to a child. That means the law will still consider you, and only you, the parent no matter what monetary arrangement you have with someone else. So the fact that the drug dealer received any parental rights to the child from his transaction with the mother is bullshit.