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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
Leila April 2, 2009, 9:43 PM

These boys should have stayed with the mothers that raised them. Regardless of who they are biologically related to, they were raised and loved by the mother and recognize that person as their mother. They are suddenly ripped away into a strange environment with strange people. Yes the mother is going to feel a bond to the other child but if she never saw her biological son, would she have continued loving the one she had? Probably. This is a stupid argument on which woman ‘owns’ the child. Sure it was a horrible mix up but they should have left it the way it was and at the most meet with the other family regularly. When the children were older there could have been a possibility of sleep overs and play dates at each house. Selfish women indeed. I am not an adoptive mom or a mom at all and this is the objective view regarding the emotional welfare of the boys.

Momto1 April 2, 2009, 9:43 PM

I feel terrible for the families involved. I have no idea what I would do. I think if I found out tomorrow that my 18 month old had been switched I would still want to keep him… I couldn’t imagine life without HIM… But at the same time I would always be curious about my biological child. I don’t think a day would go by that I didn’t wonder if he looked like me or acted like me, etc. It would be difficult either way.

Christina April 2, 2009, 9:45 PM

The emotional bonds between the mothers and the babies that they raised are well developed and to suddenly break them will damage all parties involved permanently. So sad. Maybe they could have just arranged visitations and kept the living arrangements the way they were.

Carrie April 2, 2009, 9:46 PM

Come to think of it, if the mother who found out first that the child wasn’t biologically hers- if she knew and kept this secret to herself for years. If it was ever found out that the boys were switched at birth and the mother admitted she knew, she would be charged and put in jail. So what that mother did was the right thing, politically correct. I know as horrible as it is for these little boys, the law is right.

Jenny April 2, 2009, 9:49 PM

The first six weeks are the hardest but after that the boys will adapt to their new homes. I don’t think the families will forget the boy they have raised. I spent the first 7 1/2 years without my mother. I thank God for every day she is in my life. Everyone should give them a chance to make this right. Every child should know their (birth) mother. I send my prayers to both families. This is hard for everyone involved.

Tsuki April 2, 2009, 9:49 PM

nature is strong, but nuture is by fart much stronger, to raise a child with you sweat blood and tears, believing it to be your own and then having it torn from you has to be the most painful thing i could imagine, those two boys, for 2 years of their live were loved and cared for by two diffrent women, and for them to be taken from them is just awful, who cares if theres diffrent blood, thats like saying if a biological parent wangts its already adopted and adapted child back, that the new family HAS yo give it back because they cant love it as much.

jen April 2, 2009, 9:49 PM

Scarred for life? At two? While you can retain memories from traumatic incidents at 2, be realistic about this situation. What if they stayed with the wrong parents and one got killed and the other parents decided to push it and take the one that was left? At an older age is when things get really sticky. With love and care, these boys will be fine. I agree with several posts about hoping the families form a lasting friendship though.

Tanya April 2, 2009, 9:54 PM

I don’t remember anything from the age of 4 and younger so I could have been raised by monkeys the first 2 years of my life and not realize it. These little boys will recover and are unlikely to even remember this happened, unless it’s talked about everyday. I think that the children should be raised by their rightful mothers. I know I would want mine and my husbands son if he were out there and not some stranger’s kid. Just my opinion of course.

BelleSomnium April 2, 2009, 9:54 PM

My son is 2 years old and I could NEVER give him up if I found out he was not mine!!! I would have a nervous breakdown and never recover from the loss. I can’t imagine what pain these women are going through!!!!!

carlea April 2, 2009, 9:55 PM

another news agency reported that once the mom saw her misplaced son, who was much cuter than the child she was given, she wanted to cuter boy, but the cuter boy’s temperment was out of control. well, guess you can’t have it all. this is sad, but fortunately these kids are young enough that they will adapt and will probably forget their former families.

Sinthia April 2, 2009, 9:57 PM

It’s unfortunate that the children were forced to be switched. It would have been better for the children to stay with their “parents” but for the two families to remain in touch for medical issues and also — when the children are old enough to understand — explain the situation. Nothing wrong with having TWO sets of loving parents.

Penny April 2, 2009, 10:00 PM

I feel the mothers should have kept their “children” they had for 2 years. They could have made arrangements on regular visits. These children would not have to suffer being ripped away from their only known mothers. This is very sad.

KB April 2, 2009, 10:07 PM

I think they should have stayed with the family they had been with. That’s what they know and who they are comfortable with. Introduce the biological families as friends; maybe get together on play dates or something, so that the biological mothers can know them, but leave the kids alone! It’s not their fault. They don’t need to be punished by bring uprooted from everything they know.

mary April 2, 2009, 10:08 PM

That is just horrible. Biological or not, it has to be impossibly hard to “return” a child that you have raised for 2 years. I can’t imagine returning my baby after 2 weeks, nevermind 2 years. There is always a special bond with a mom and her baby, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bond due to biology.

I can’t imagine what these children are going through either!!

Ashleigh April 2, 2009, 10:08 PM

I think many here are missing a huge point! The bio mom’s loved their babies for 9 months in the womb, and wanted to take home their bio babies at birth… The babies were switched, and of course they love the babies they raised, but when one mom realized the switch, while she of course still loves the baby she raised, she wanted her bio son back where he belonged! Can you blame her? Are you going to tell me that if you found out that you had a child you wanted and gave birth to and you found out he was “out there somewhere” that you wouldn’t care or want him anymore just because you now loved a baby you thought was the one you gave birth to? Of course not! Of course you would want the baby you carried, gave birth to and thought you’d brought home! You wouldn’t stop loving the one you’d raised for 2 years, but you wouldn’t just callously disregard the fact that YOUR baby was still out there somewhere, and not with you as planned! You’d be in a downright panic over it! Which is why the bio mom went after him. She wanted to keep the one she already had, and bring home the bio son, too, but that wasn’t fair or right, of course, so she took her bio son, and “returned” the other one to HIS bio mom… Just because you love them after 2 years doesn’t make it right to then reject the one you gave birth to, which is what is being suggested here with these posts about “not giving up the son that was raised” — if they didn’t give back the other mom’s son that they raised, they would be rejecting their own bio child by refusing to switch back. How cruel and wrong that would be! These were the babies they wanted to go home from the hospital with in the first place, and for the next 88 years, they’ll be amid their rightful families… And they will know 88 years out of 90, not the first 2… It’s a heartache and gut wrench for all involved, but you simply cannot blame the mom for wanting her bio son to be back home with her, the home she intended for him to be raised in since conception… Babies are resiiiant and will manage, especially if each mom helps the other know the little special things that their sons enjoy, to help keep that going for the babies… 88 years in their rightful families, 2 years in their switched-at-birth families — that will be just fine, really!

anonymous April 2, 2009, 10:13 PM

Adopted children do not search for their birth parents because they are looking to replace their real parents, they search because they want to know, as all people do, as much as possible about where they came from. Only in cases where there was family dysfunction are they looking for anything more than a connection to their personal history. The people who claim “blood” trumps all, have not thought about what a family is, or how children develop. They are also assuming that their feelings for their own children are based on biology and not on loving and nuturing them since birth. These children should have been left with their real mothers, the mothers that raised them, and the families should have kept in close contact. Either was, no one should be judging these families because this is an amlost impossible situation.

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 10:17 PM

I know a family that went through this in the US. Both of the familys should get them a lawyer and sue the hospital. I know that won’t make it right but the hospital owes these familys! Even though they only had 2 nurses that don’t make it just a simple mistake. I’m sure that both familys have been devastated by this! I will keep you all in my prayers!

Kimberly April 2, 2009, 10:17 PM

I keep thinking of the children. These babies don’t know about their dna. All they know is the mother that loved them fed them and played with them from the time they were born is no longer there. I do not believe that in the best interest of the emotional and mental stability of a child is make them switch mothers now at there age. A child learns rejection and abandonment between the ages of 0-3 years of age. These years can be crucial in a child gowing to be a well rounded healthy adult. They may even forget this in time but there subconscious will allways remember the pain and abandonment which can cause mental and emotional problems as they grow. It has been proven that a child in the womb can feel strong rejection from the mother carring them. If the child is not wanted or is not the sex the mother wants they may never know this but will struggle through life with problems they can not get to the bottom of. This is not good for the mom the child or the rest of the family. The children should be returned so they may feel safe and comforted.

Heidi April 2, 2009, 10:18 PM

I would want my own child back….but in the end if it meant saving all the grief I would be for it…hopefully the babies get over it soon and best of luck to the families.

Lorrie April 2, 2009, 10:19 PM

How heart wrenching the mothers to realize you’ve loved a child for two years only to find that someone else has been raising the child you gave birth to. I would definitely want back the child I gave birth to, but giving up a child that I’ve loved for two years would be terrible. The only way I could do it is if I could maintain a relationship with the child I returned to the biological parents. My guess is that if they kept the child that was not their biological child, when that child learned of the situation that it would be a crisis for them as teenagers when children naturally go through a phase of rejecting their parents.

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