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Durham mom hopes 2 job offers help her get kids back

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Moshimalee Johnson said Social Services took her five children after she posted an ad on Craigslist looking for help. Moshimalee Johnson said Social Services took her five children after she posted an ad on Craigslist looking for help.
DURHAM, N.C. -

A Durham mother who lost custody of her five children after she posted an ad on Craigslist seeking help from the public received good news Wednesday that may help her get her kids back.

Moshimalee Johnson said she interviewed for two jobs Wednesday as a nurses' assistant and was offered both. Still, she wonders if that will be enough to regain custody of her five children.

Durham County Social Services took Johnson's children two days after she posted an advertisement on Craigslist that asked for someone to "take my five kids until I can find a job and a place to live."

Two of the children are with a day care teacher, one is with a friend and the two oldest are in a therapeutic foster home.

But Johnson -- who is 7 months pregnant -- contends she posted the ad two weeks ago in desperation and that she was not trying to give her children away.

"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," Johnson continued. "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."

Before she posted the ad, Johnson said she went to Social Services for help because she suddenly found herself jobless and then homeless and in a position where she struggled to care for her sick child. She said her oldest child, who is 9 years old, has behavior issues that require ongoing doctor's appointments.

She said Social Services denied her request to temporarily place her children -- together -- in foster care, so she then turned to the Durham Rescue Mission. But Johnson said she decided the Rescue Mission's program was not right for her.

"I'm looking to try to save up some money so I can get my own place; and the way the Rescue Mission was designed, you cannot work for six months," Johnson explained.

Co-founder of the Rescue Mission, Ernie Mills, said the mission’s program is designed for long-term help and growth. Which means Johnson would not have been allowed to get a job for six months while under their care so she could focus on learning life skills.

"She chose not to accept our program," Mills said. "We could've helped her if she had wanted to stay at the Rescue Mission, but that didn't fit into her [plan] at that time."

Even with the job offers, Johnson will have to face the courts on child neglect charges before she’s able to get her children back.

Durham's Department of Social Services said "only a small number of cases ever involve the removal of children and placement in foster care." It added, "children are never removed from their home solely due to issues of poverty or homelessness."

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Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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