SINGAPORE - With fewer babies to adopt here in the past decade, some people are turning to online forums to look for a baby or give their child up for adoption.
On popular parenting website Singapore Motherhood, dozens of posts on adoption can be found.
They are mainly from prospective parents, such as one that went, "Hi, I'm desperately looking for a baby to adopt and I'm willing to pay for medical costs".
This trend appears to have emerged in the past two years and echoes similar trends in countries like the United States and China, as the demand for babies exceeds supply globally.
Some childless couples here told The Straits Times they are going online in search of babies, in the wake of a declining supply of babies available for adoption through agencies here.
Agents here say there are now fewer babies from Malaysia and Indonesia - where most of the foreign-adopted babies are from - for Singapore couples to adopt.
Among other reasons, this is because foreign middlemen are less keen to work with Singapore agents, as the authorities here demand more documentation, such as details of the financial transactions.
Besides, few Singaporean babies are given up for adoption. Social workers say most unwanted pregnancies are terminated.
The number of children adopted here has halved, from a high of 731 in 2004 to 358 last year.
Women interviewed also cite cost and ease of mind as factors for taking their quest for babies online. Some said they cannot afford the $20,000 to $28,000 fee that adoption agents charge.
Others do not feel comfortable using a commercial agent as they are not sure of the child's parentage or how the child is obtained for adoption.
Jane (not her real name), a 30-year-old executive who is childless after six years of marriage, went online to look for a baby recently. She said: "I feel it's not right to pay $25,000 to $30,000 to an agent to adopt a child. It's like buying a baby."
Lawyer Shone Aye Cheng said it is not illegal to find a child to adopt or to offer a child up for adoption through these online forums. However, it is against the law to pay the birth parents for giving their child up for adoption.
Under the Children and Young Persons Act, offenders can be jailed up to five years, or fined up to $10,000, or both.