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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
iben April 2, 2009, 9:19 PM

no you wouldn’t. after a while your fickled female emotions would get the best of you and you’d make a bee-line for the first family law office that you could find. I’ve seen a million of `em like you, believe that…

Sam April 2, 2009, 9:21 PM

I think, they should move next door to each other, or share a two family home, and share BOTH children..each, loving and caring for both babies…That way they will bond with their bio moms,fathers and other siblings, besides their 2nd mom,and that father & those siblings and grow up all together.It could work..if they put the children before their own selfish needs.

Hoot April 2, 2009, 9:22 PM

you say that now, but in the end your fickled female emotions would get the best of you and you’d make a bee-line for the first family law office that you could find. you’d want to know your real baby. I’ve seen a million like you, believe that.

anonymous April 2, 2009, 9:24 PM

I am an adoptive mother and could not imagine my son being taken from me. I see this as a most unfortunate decision by the courts. Both children should have been left with the mothers (families) they were being raised and loved in during their first, most formative years. There is no way for the children to understand what has happened, and when they do, it won’t matter. And while they may not remember the circumstances, the trauma inflicted on these poor little boys cannot be measured or the extent of its damage predicted. I am sure the action taken will most definitely have a negative impact on the emotional development of these children that will effect their entire lives. The feeling of abandonment is a most powerful, negative influence. How sad for all. But as a loving, caring biological mother, how could you put your own comfort and happiness above that of your child?? I agree with the writer who said she would always want to be in touch enough to know that if her biological child ever needed her, she would be able to be there for him and help him, care for him, provide for him; but that he would not know her as his mother. That would be reserved for the loving mother who raised him.

Jeannine April 2, 2009, 9:24 PM

I’m just confused about how the swap went unnoticed to begin with. The story says “Anna Androsova, discovered her son’s maternity ward ID tag actually had the mother’s name Zarema Taisumova on it”. As tragic as this is, I think the mothers are partially to blame, not just the nurse. Don’t you think it might be important to maybe glance at the ID tag on your child!? The ID tag is there for a reason. I don’t think it’s fair to blame the nurse who is caring for 10 other babies when you only have 1 newborn to worry about and obviously didn’t bother to check if it was yours! I understand it’s part of her job, but, c’mon - it’s your child! Use your brain! This all could have been avoided if one of the mothers bothered to look at their child’s ID tag before leaving. I know where my sister gave birth, they compared the ID tags of mother/baby before discharging them. I guess they don’t do that in Russia.

melissa April 2, 2009, 9:26 PM

As a mother of a two year old, I can’t even imagine having to trade my son for another child. He is my son, DNA or no DNA. The definition of mother does not include anything about DNA! Those babies were loved by families who knew them and raised them from day 1 - I think it was a mistake to trade them just simply because a blood test says someone else gave birth to them. My biological mother didn’t raise me - my MOM did (not biological).

Intelligent April 2, 2009, 9:27 PM

Unfortunately, blood does have a great deal to do with it. The whole “love is stronger” theory is very sweet, but has been disproved by scientists. It’s been established that adopted children grow up to have the same personality traits as their biological parents (such as aggression), despite their adoptive parents not having such traits. I would most certainly have wanted my own son back, however I think both families should make an effort to visit and keep in touch to ease the boys’ transitions.

judy April 2, 2009, 9:30 PM

This is a very sad story….however, do any of you remember being 2 years old?I doubt it, so these children will not remember this.Yes, it will take time for them to adjust, but it will happen.I cant imagine not wanting my own child.It would be different for the children if they were older and understood what was happening, but with alot of love they will surely adjust to their new family.I feel worse for the mothers who had to raise and love these children and then have to give them up.The right choice was made in my opinion.

Aarika April 2, 2009, 9:31 PM

I couldn’t even imagine going through this. I think the children should have stayed with the families that raised them for two years, and when they are old enough to understand be made aware of the situation. You cant just take a child out of the only home they’ve ever known and expect them to be okay. Sure they’ll eventually adjust for the most part, but I garuntee neither of them will even Fully recover from something like this this, even if they can’t remember it. Changing their names is just wrong too.

Joe Papierz April 2, 2009, 9:34 PM

How dumb are they not to look at the ID bracelets for two years after bringing the babies home? Stupid. Dumb.

lyn April 2, 2009, 9:37 PM

After raising a child after 2 years, would be hard to give up. I would have to make a deal with the other mother who was raising my biological child. That we would give back our own child , and stay in touch and close to one-another, so we both could watch them grow, and she would become my best friend.Buse i would love them both.

Joe Papierz April 2, 2009, 9:38 PM

For those posting against sending the boys to their birth mothers:

Consider the possible future need for an organ transplant or need for information about inherited family illness tendancies.

Ashleigh April 2, 2009, 9:38 PM

I think this is a horrible heartwrench for all involved, but I do think ultimately the switch back was correct. They are 2, not 4 or 8, but 2 years old. They have the right, as do their bio families, to be raised with their bio families who love them and want them. At 2, they will not remember this, as most children don’t have memories before the age of 5 or 4. They will adjust… I adopted a toddler, not an infant, and we’re a happy family! No trauma… No memories… I think the real trauma is for the mom’s and dad’s and siblings who loved the babies that were in their houses, and having to love the “new” child who actually belongs there will be hard for them… It will be an adjustment period for all concerned. I think it would be nice if the switched out families could share a memory book of photo’s, habits, favorite toys, foods, stories, etc… with each-other, so the bio mom’s can offer some continuity of care and love for their bio child to experience… If they live to 90, these babies will have 88 years with their biological families, and only 2 years with a switched-at-birth family… No matter how wonderful and loving they were for 2 years, and Thank God for that, the babies belong with their bio families who wanted them at birth… I adopted a toddler unwanted by their bio family, and love her as my own, so I’m not saying blood is or isn’t better, but it’s wrong to keep that which doesn’t belong to you, and how can you reject that which does? It’s a horrible situation for all, but mostly for the families, not the babies… They will recover fast, love quickly, and not remember… They’ll be where they’re supposed to be for 88 years and not remember their first 2…

anonymous April 2, 2009, 9:39 PM

Those of you who are saying that you are 20, 30, whatever and don’t remember anything at age 2; and for those who say these children will not remember this a few years from now are totally wrong. This definitely would have effected you had something of this magnitude happened to you. You may not remember the facts, but you would still suffer the effects. If you haven’t experienced a trauma of this magnitude—a trauma that directly impacted your very existence, then you wouldn’t know how strong a influence it would have on the rest of your life.

MMGRR April 2, 2009, 9:41 PM

To all the people saying they should not have swapped and blood doesnt matter, SO answer this if it was a baby of a different color would there be a issue to you? Is the hospital a take home what ever baby you want organization now? If blood doesn’t matter would you not mind taking home a baby you didnt carry for nine months? I’m sorry but I want the baby that my wife carried, the baby my sperm made, the baby my wife and I made.

Dusty April 2, 2009, 9:41 PM

How can any of you be okay with switching these children? Are you kidding me with that blood bond crap? These women switched these children to their “biological” families, took them from everyone and everything they have known, Hell they even changed their names!!!! Basically all sense of security is gone. Hell yeah they are having a hard time adapting. Wouldn’t you?

Misti April 2, 2009, 9:42 PM

When I was pregnant with my son I was scared something like this would happen b/c all the movies and the times it actual happened. However the hospital I had my son was very good and we didn’t have the problem. If we had I really wouldn’t know what to do probably, b/c I would want my biological child as well as the one i had raised at 2 years. I think if you just up and change the kids to right families the kids would have problems and would be confused. If this is what they want they should do it slowly but in my opinion the 2 women should keep the son they have and they should become like an extended family so when the boys grow up they know their real mom and the one who raised them and the mothers would have both kids in their life.

Diana April 2, 2009, 9:42 PM

Wow, seems like the story in the bible , about cutting the child in half and the mother that loved the child stepped back and gave up the child. Believe me even though are 2 , they will remember this, cannot believe the law even sided with this, I pray the mothers love the other child they raised , to get a bond with each other now, Is in the best interest of both boys. Then to change their names was wrong too. How dramatic for these boys , I put them in my prayers, Come on Moms , please get together and bond with each other as both their families. I know my daughter now that I finally adopted at 13 , which I had since 3 lbs 12 ozs, she now knows her biologal family and she gets hurt all the time, she is 15 now , She loves me as her real mom, but cannot believe her birth mom just threw her away, she says I am so happy she gave me to you, because her other 3 children were taken away and given to their dads , but my daughter has no idea who her real dad is. So let me tell you it does mess these children up, I am 65 have 5 older children and going to have my 18th grand child and also going to have 5 great after August. I would never give up so easy after I raised them as my own, or made sure we all bonded so they would not feel they just threw them away. Sorry but my thoughts.

Cathy April 2, 2009, 9:43 PM

Ok, the first post on here—their rightful MOTHERS, not owners—that was just ignorant. I feel deeply for these two Moms, and the boys. I can’t even begin to imagine how devastating this must be for all of them. And what kind of long term trauma are we talking about here? Good luck to all of those involved, even the nurse involved. She will face a lifetime of guilt. I can’t believe anyone would have done this on purpose. God Bless

Joe Papierz April 2, 2009, 9:43 PM

Newborn babies do not all look alike. Someone in one of the families should have noticed the difference when the wrong baby was brought to either of the mothers.

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