Singapore: The number of children adopted in the republic has fallen by half as fewer babies have been placed for adoption.
Last year, 352 children were adopted – fewer than half the 731 adopted in 2004, according to figures from the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
With the demand to adopt staying strong and outstripping the supply of foreign and Singaporean babies, adoption agents are charging more. They say this is because their foreign counterparts are asking for more money. The delivery and other bills for the care of the mother and baby have also risen.
Adoption agents are asking for S$25,000 to S$35,000 (RM77,500 to RM108,500) against the S$15,000 (RM46,500) to S$25,000 a decade ago. This includes the agent’s fees, delivery and other medical bills, lawyer’s fees and a red packet for the birth mother.
Adoption numbers fell sharply, agents say, after the Government barred agents from finding China babies for couples to adopt. China used to be a main source of babies for adoption.
Since 2004, only two charities – Touch Family Services and Fei Yue Community Services – have been allowed to handle China adoptions. The Singapore and Chinese governments agreed on this to prevent illegal cash-for-baby transactions.
It is illegal to pay or reward birth parents for giving their child up for adoption, except with permission from the courts.
However, The Sunday Times understands that agents give birth parents a red packet of up to a five-figure sum. Agents say they declare this sum to the authorities.
With China adoptions out, agents have turned to Malaysia and Indonesia, looking for poor couples or unwed mums to give their babies up.
But with the greater use of contraceptives, there are fewer unwanted pregnancies among these foreigners, said adoption agent Mahaletchimi Muthusamy, who runs the Ministry of Baby Singapore.
Mahaletchimi, who has about 100 couples waiting to adopt, said: “If there is a baby placed for adoption now, every agent would immediately grab (the baby).”
One agent, who declined to be named, said foreign middlemen have been less keen to work with Singapore agents in recent years as the Singapore authorities demand more documentation. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network