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Worst Nightmare: Swapped At Birth

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Could you give up the boy you'd raised for two years?


This is every mom's worst nightmare. Two mothers in Russia have been forced to swap their two-year-old sons after DNA tests revealed the children had been mixed up as newborns by a careless nurse, according to Sky News.

A court ordered the two women to exchange the boys they had raised as their own, the Russian media is reporting.

How could something like this happen? The error was uncovered when one of the mothers, Anna Androsova, discovered her son's maternity ward ID tag actually had the mother's name Zarema Taisumova on it. Androsova tracked down the Chechen woman, saw the blue-eyed boy and declared, "This is my son."

But Taisumova refused to swap the children without proof. The hospital in central Russia ordered DNA tests, which confirmed the boys had been mixed up.

Androsova initially pleaded with her family to keep Nikita, the boy she had raised for two years as her own. But she later decided to pursue the exchange through the court.

Weeks after the switch, Taisumova was still deep in shock, interviewed on Russian television with her biological son playing on her lap.

She has changed her dark-haired and brown-eyed biological son's name from Nikita to Ali, but said she would continue to love the other little boy whom she had named Adlan.

Both children are reportedly struggling to adapt to their new families. Adlan, now called Nikita by his biological mother, misses his Chechen mom and his older brother says he loved the old Nikita more.

The maternity ward has blamed the error on a lack of staff, explaining only two nurses were caring for 20 newborns. The nurse responsible for the error has been fired, and the hospital's head doctor said there is little else they can do.

To prevent something like this from ever happening again, many hospital maternity wards have rigid safety practices in place. In India, they tag the newborns and their mothers with unique Radio Frequency IDs, which can prevent stealing as well as swapping by mistake while the baby is in the hospital. In Spain, babies are fingerprinted at birth.

Here in the States, hospitals routinely use triple and sometimes quadruple identification bands to insure that a baby is not separated from its mother, reports the New York Times.

Could you hand over a child you had raised for two years? Which pull would be stronger for you -- nature or nurture? Comment in our momlogic community.

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302 comments so far | Post a comment now
MARIA April 2, 2009, 8:23 PM

What hurts the most these mother can never bond with there children now.They will not fell the same as they did for the one they raise for 2 yrs, thats just so sad

Jill April 2, 2009, 8:25 PM

How can anyone know how these families feel? Blood is family, and children need to know thier biologyIMO. I’d just hope that the families see each other as often as possible to help with the transition for all of them. How sad!

Chris April 2, 2009, 8:25 PM

How many people remember their life from two years old? These kids will adjust so long as thier parents don’t compare them to each other for the rest of their lives.

Sara April 2, 2009, 8:26 PM

The attachment that babies form early in life with their primary caregivers are some of the strongest bonds that there are. Whether the child actually remembers the switch or not, I feel like I can safely assume they will always feel as though something is missing. I honestly don’t think that the bonds that they eventually form with their biological mothers will ever be as strong as those that they developed with the women who initially raised them.

Rae April 2, 2009, 8:26 PM

If this were me I would want to have my biological child. Honestly it may be an adjustment but I can’t really say I remember anything from when I was two years old. It would bother me to find out later in life that my biological parents decided they didn’t want me. Children adjust. I’m sure it is painful for all right now but in the long run the right choice was made. I am sure they will always have a place in their heart for the child they were raising but that doesn’t mean they lost the love for the child they carried and I’m sure the fathers feel the same way.

Brandy April 2, 2009, 8:28 PM

If someone came to me right now and told me my 3 yr old belonged to someone else I’d fight tooth and nail to keep the him. Love is more powerful than any DNA resemblance…They never should have taken those babies away from the mother that raised them…they may never recover from this trauma.

Lori April 2, 2009, 8:28 PM

This cannot possibly be a happy situation for anyone. I could never imagined if someone came to me and suddendly stated “oh by the way, this child is not yours” It had to have been excruiatingly painful for all involve. However, not to be disrespectful or anything but they should have exchanged immediately to make it easier on all involved. I don’t know how long this went through the court system and all the personal decision making but it could have saved a lot of heartache for the babies. God Bless them all, I hope they all overcome.

Kat April 2, 2009, 8:29 PM

There is NO way I could give up my child after 2 weeks even. I was briefly switched in the hospital when I was born. If the other half middle eastern family did not already have six dark eye and hair kids (I was very blonde and blue eyed.)it probably would have gone unnoticed.

Hadensmom April 2, 2009, 8:30 PM

I simply don’t understand how you cannot know what your baby looks like unless they were born cesaerian and you were out. Both of my boys were born natural and I saw them right away. I will never forget what they looked like the first time I saw them. I do aggree, though, that these families should keep in touch and make things easier for the children.

Debbie April 2, 2009, 8:31 PM

There is no way in the world I could trade a child I had raised and loved unconditionally for two years! I would also never even begin to entertain the thought of ripping a child away from the mother he has known and loved for two years. I would always want to be sure my bioligical child was safe and well cared for, but I would never hurt him so much as to disrupt his life and ruin his sense of safety and belonging. Its just idiotic that they would let this happen to either child. What a stupid decision!

Lilly April 2, 2009, 8:31 PM

everybody is talking about the mother’s actions, and i’m not sure which would have been the best descision, but did you forget about the nurse who switched them??? how terrible that they were given the wrong children. that should have never happened.

cher April 2, 2009, 8:32 PM

I dont believe that either child will be scarred for life…How many of you remember your parents at two years old? It is a tragic situation, however, the boys will adapt. They are young enough. Thank God it was caught now before they were 8 or 10 or 14…I would love and miss the child I raised for 2 years but I would want the child that was supposed to be mine. To know his children, my grandchildren. It is hard for the boys to understand now, but I have a adopted neighbor that has wondered his whole life who his real parents are and I think that is much worse. Keeping the children around the people that raised them these 2 years will just make it harder for them to adapt because at 2 they will not understand why they cannot go home with the mommy they knew.

Samantha April 2, 2009, 8:36 PM

I’m not sure it was a good idea to change the names. Whether you like them or not, those are the names the children have been going by for 2 years. You may not remember what it was like when you were 2, but I know that if my 2 year old was forced into another home, she would cry for mama and wouldn’t answer to another name. I think that this was a mistake, but I hope that the kids can be a part of the other’s lives and form a bond with each other that way.

joe April 2, 2009, 8:36 PM

no such thing as blood bond,excuse me,but if you have never known it,how can you say that? there is definitly strngth in blood relative bonds,these kids as sad as it may be,should have been returned to there natural mothers,but,i think it would only be the right choice if the mothers keep in touchand visit as much as possible.

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 8:38 PM

Giving them back to their rightful Mothers is the right thing to do. Those who say there is no blood bond are very wrong and it is much stronger than you think. Some of you must be touchy adoptive Mom’s on guard against your child ever wanting to know his real family? They will want to know that someday whether you like it or not. I am glad that they found this out when they are this age and not much older. In a few years neither child will remember anything about this.
- chrisb
Posted 04/02/09 08:15 PM

I think you would be surprised at what they will remember. As an adipted child, I could not imagine being taken away from my parents and forced to go to my “real” parents. The parents who have loved and raised them are who they should stay with. As for the nurse, I can’t imagine what she is going though. Under the circimstances that she and her co-worker were working under, I do not think that she should have been fired from her job.

Julie April 2, 2009, 8:38 PM

Making those poor family switch their children is the most horrible thing I have heard in a while. They should be able to keep the children they raised.

Angie April 2, 2009, 8:39 PM

I really feel for these kids and the mothers. I couldn’t imagine being in that situation. The difference between this case and being adopted is the mothers had no say in it. It was the mistake of an irresponsible hospital. As a mother, I don’t even know what I would want to do. I would definitely be torn. I would definitely want to know my biological child, but as someone said above, at 2 years old, can you imagine what’s going through their little minds..they just wouldn’t be able to understand…I hope it was a gradual transition and not just one day, they switched them!

Sandy Carr April 2, 2009, 8:41 PM

Just finished reading “Switched At Birth: My Life in Someone Elses World (Paperback)
by Frederick J. George (Author)” in which the author was in his fifties before the mistake was discovered.

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 8:43 PM

I so would have done that differently if I was a judge, they should have had visitation with the natural children and kept the one they were given. I just hope these children grow up to not be traumatized by this.

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 8:47 PM

i would have kept the child i had raised for 2 years. his biological mother could be in his life, but as his aunt or something.

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