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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
Alison Baker April 2, 2009, 10:20 PM

Any parent who willingly gives up a child that they have cared for for two years is not fit to be a parent, period.

Lin April 2, 2009, 10:22 PM

These little boys are two years old. They are not going to remember the families who raised them for two years in another year or so. Sounds heartless, but it is true. They are not going to be damaged as some posters have suggested. They SHOULD be with their biological parents in a situation such as this. It was not the parents’ fault. The only possible thing the families could do now is become friends and interact with each other and let the two boys know what happened when they are older.

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 10:22 PM

I would never give my baby I raised for two years up…..I would try to spend time with the other child but i would never give up someone I have loved every day for two years

Been there  April 2, 2009, 10:22 PM

I believe they made the right choice in switching the child back. The child will not remember and it will not scar them as some would think. I was raised until I was 3 but an aunt and uncle who lived in the southern part of our state while my mother was in college. I even spoke spanish more than english (uncle is cuban). I turned out absolutely fine and have absolutely no memory of that time period. Oh and no, I do not have a close relationship with my aunt/uncle or have even seen them in over 30 years. I think the moms will be the ones who will take longer to adjust than the children.

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 10:22 PM

I feel that the babies should have stayed with the mother’s who raised them. I have a 2 year old son and could almost imagine the agony those children are going through being torn from the only mother they knew. They should’ve thought of some other arrangements that would help the children adapt to their new families. And the changing of their names…..that was ridiculous, these children are going to need lots of counseling throughout life.

Gretna April 2, 2009, 10:25 PM

Come on people, these kids are two years old….scared for life, psychological damage, these kids will be just fine. The mothers on the other hand is a different story. They will suffer much more emotional/psychological trauma than the kids. Thank goodness that it was discovered when it was otherwise there could have been some really bad repercussions and remember the court battle is what held up the swap.

Margie April 2, 2009, 10:25 PM

There’s really no excuse for the nurses. Even if they’re short handed,double check the tags befor they leave.
I can’t imagin how these moms feel. Of course you want your own child, but I don’t know if I could give him up after 2 years.

jkp April 2, 2009, 10:26 PM

Why did she wait so long to check the ID? This could have avoided heartbreak.

Kate April 2, 2009, 10:27 PM

That nurse created an extended family when she made that mistake and those families should consider that they are now forever linked. In my opinion, the boys should have stayed in the families that raised them and there should have been visitation between the families. The children should then have been told all along that this other woman was the mother that gave birth to them. It would be the only way to avoid the obvious emotional stress and long term loss of trust that these boys will now experience. They will never feel entirely safe again.

Granny April 2, 2009, 10:28 PM

Rightful owners, blood bond…what on earth???
I am one of the so called touchy adoptive moms that have been spoken about. I am not touchy in the least truth be told. My child is not a mother herself and I have given her all the info on her birth parents that I was given. Back to these two little boys that have had their lives torn apart. My feeling is that they have bonded and loved the families that they have been in until the mixup was discovered. I think that greater harm has been done with the exchange then had they been left with the only mothers that they knew. I guess that in one case the family is muslim and that could be the cause of family inssiting on an exchange..they did not want an infidle child in their family even tho he had been there for a couple of years. Bonding at this age is going to be long and hard, if at all.

Mandie's mom April 2, 2009, 10:31 PM

The article that Gigohead mentioned was regarding Arlena Twigg and Kimberly Mayes.

The Twigg family lived in Langhorne, PA (I was in Bensalem) when Arlena was diagnosed with cardiac problems (I think it was at Deborah Hospital).

While Arlena died, it is Kimberly who has endured many psychological problems due to the hospital’s error.

I have not heard anything more about the Twigg/Mayes families, but I hope that Kimberly has found some peace in her life. She has three parents and quite a few siblings who love her.

Regarding the two Russian mothers, it would be nice if the families stayed in touch due to the bonds established with each child.

Frieda April 2, 2009, 10:33 PM

Until and if some of you are in the same situation and circumstance, don’t point fingers and offer stupid opinons. I don’t think that any of us is aware of how things work in Russia and its hospital. Remember, it is not the US of A.

Patricia April 2, 2009, 10:36 PM

How did either one of these women NOT realize that they had the wrong child when they left the hospital???? I have 2 children - I can say with 100% certainty, if someone in the hospital tried to give me a different child - I would have known the difference.

My heart breaks for those 2 little boys! Hopefully time will pass quickly - and they will get used to their “new” families!

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 10:38 PM

i have a 19 month old and i could not imagine giving him to someone else. i cant see why or how anyone coud agree with the courts ruling…thats rediculous!

Lori April 2, 2009, 10:40 PM

They should have had visitations with each family for months at least before any decision was made to separate these babies from the only family they know. This was not handled well at all and if any name changes were to be made it should have been a gradual thing. I feel sorry for all involved. The hospital should have to pay and pay BIG for this!

ashleigh April 2, 2009, 10:44 PM

Coming from an early childhood prospective and development prospective the first 2 years life are the most crucial so making them switch families at this age and not explaining and putting them out of their element could possibly have a lasting effect even if they don’t remember it when they are older, it may affect others areas emotionally or socially even. A lack of trust possibly or abandonment or the constant feeling of not belonging??? or they can go on with life and live a completely “normal” life

Anonymous April 2, 2009, 10:48 PM

I have said since my son was born 3 years ago that I never knew what love was until I had him. It’s a shame that it took them 2 years to settle this. I think that this is a traumatic situation for all involved, especially the boys.

Janice April 2, 2009, 10:55 PM

Of course these children should be with their biological mothers.They are only toddlers, they will forget. However the women seem to be very loving towards their children and the love bond they have just can not be broken. I think they can solve this problem themselves, by sharing each other’s lives and their childrens lives. This way they get to love both and watch them grow and prosper. how can they not with so much love?

Rose April 2, 2009, 10:56 PM

The babies should have remained with who raised them with options of seeing their birth mothers now or in the future. They will be scarred for life because the bond they created with each woman who raised them is shattered.

Eileen April 2, 2009, 10:57 PM

As a grandmother, I think that the children should be allowed to be in contact with the mother who had cared for them the first two years. But blood is stronger and they would have grown up angry if they were not allowed to be with their biological families. We all can be grateful these things happen rarely and that the court cases didn’t drang on forever as they sometimes do here in the US.

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