She was living in Busan, in the south east of South Korea, when a job opportunity came up in Seoul. She had no one to look after her baby while she took the long trip to the city.
At the insistence of her mother, Kim contacted an adoption agency to discuss her options. The next day a social worker from an agency visited, Kim filled out the paperwork to relinquish her child and got straight on a train to Seoul. Her plan was to get the job and then get her child back.
The social worker agreed to contact her if a family wanted to adopt her daughter, but 11 days later she received a text message saying her baby had been adopted.
“I mentioned to a social worker that I was thinking about adoption and the very next day they moved my file over to the adoption side of the centre. The next day I had counseling about the process of adoption,” she says.
She signed the relinquishment papers for her child before it was born and within two days of her birth, her daughter was taken to another location. She was allowed to hold her baby for one hour before she was taken away – further contact was denied by the facility’s nurses.
Shin chose international adoption, a process that can take around eight months, so she was allowed to visit her daughter for 30 minutes a month until she left the country.
“At first I had no inclination to get my daughter back, but after seeing her every month, that’s when I started to want to get her back,” she says.
She sought advice from KUMFA, the Korean Unwed Mothers Families’ Association, on how to get her back and asked for advice on a Korean online forum.
At the seven-month point of the process, the adoption agency told her to come and see her daughter one last time before she was sent to a family in the US.
However, when Shin visited the agency, her daughter was not there and the agency questioned why she posted on the forum. She says the agency then tried to convince her that adoption to a wealthy family was better for her child than raising her alone.
Shin was told to come back a week later if she still wanted her child. She returned, but was forced to write a letter of apology to the adoptive parents before she could get her daughter back.