SINGAPORE - She will turn 21 in December. And she recently gave away her baby in exchange for $8,000.
Caly (not her real name) insists it was not for monetary gain. But she admits the money will come in handy as she and her husband are in financial difficulties.
She made this clear in several online advertisements she posted in May: "My husband and I are putting our 5-month-old daughter of mixed blood up for adoption due to financial constraints and also because we are not ready for a kid."
"We are looking for a sincere couple to adopt her as soon as possible for a small adoption fee as costs are getting almost impossible to cope with."
"Please understand that we wouldn't be asking for any fee if we didn't really need it as we feel bad enough for having to do this, but our situation is quite dire financially."
About two weeks after the ads appeared, a reader alerted The New Paper, saying: "We are just worried that it may be child trafficking or (the) baby may be sold to (a) paedophile."
When TNP, posing as a prospective adopter, contacted Caly, she replied in an e-mail at the end of May, saying: "I have already found a couple to adopt my baby girl and have given her away this week."
In a meeting with TNP last week, Caly agreed to talk about the adoption.
The baby was born two months after Caly married her husband last September. They were not financially ready for a child and the timing was wrong.
She had asked for the small adoption fee because "we had a lot of bills to pay off".
Caly said: "We never accepted nor asked for any money with the intent of selling our child.
"We love her a lot but we were not financially able to provide her with all that a child will need."
The highest offer was $10,000, but the deal didn't go through. Caly said: "They wanted her as a companion for their adopted daughter. That didn't seem right to me."
Just as she almost changed her mind about the adoption, another couple approached her.
"They had contacted me before but I didn't reply to them. They were persistent and tried again. I knew they were serious. So I thought it was fated."
They gave Caly $8,000 and paid for the "legal paperwork". Caly stressed that everything was above board. "The adoption was handled legally and the whole process went through the legal channels," she said.
But she admitted she had not approached any of the agencies accredited with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). TNP understands the adoption may not be legal.
An MSF spokesman told TNP: "Prospective adopters will have to abide by Section 11 of the Adoption of Children Act and provide the Court with the details of any financial transactions involved in the transfer of the child."
Caly claimed the adoption was handled by a lawyer from a firm in Toa Payoh. But TNP checks show the firm she mentioned does not have a branch in Toa Payoh. She would not reveal the lawyer's name.
She said: "At first, we wanted to give my baby up for free because there were only three (inquiries). I told my husband, just give up for free."
"But I pitied him because he is the only one working. I thought this is the only way to get money. I thought even $1,000 or $2,000 would help."
Her husband, 25, who runs a business selling mobile phone accessories, declined to be interviewed.
Caly admitted telling the couple that she and her husband had financial difficulties.
"I told them, 'It is fine if you don't want to help, you can take her for free. If you can help, please help,'" she said.
Asked if it was difficult to give away her baby, Caly said: "Actually, I wanted to give her up since I became pregnant but I didn't want to abort because it was a life."
"But in the hospital, after you give birth, you see your kid. She is still my daughter."
"She is very cute and a very quiet girl. Very different from other babies. She didn't cry or make a fuss. But we really didn't have a choice."
Her mother-in-law was furious to learn of the adoption.
"We didn't tell her and when she found out, you can imagine how upset she was. In the end, she forgave us."
Caly has not been in contact with the adoptive parents since the adoption. She declined to put us in touch with the couple.
She said the money had helped to clear some debts but "things are still not easy".
"We are still living with my mum-in-law. And I intend to return to my studies."
This article was first published on June 28, 2014.
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