12-Year-Old Girls Learn They Were Swapped At Birth

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Here’s one of those stories that’s usually reserved for prime-time TV and, even then, you’d roll your eyes and say, “Yeah, right – as if that would ever happen in real life.” It’s the story of two Russian girls who were accidentally swapped at birth back in 1999. And it’s only now – 12 years later – that the families have become aware of this major, life-altering mix-up.

BBC News reports that when Yuliya Belyaeva got a divorce earlier this year, her former husband refused to pay alimony because he did not believe that he was the father of their daughter, Irina (that’s a whole other post for another day). Apparently they looked nothing alike. DNA tests revealed that he was not, in fact, Irina’s biological father. But neither was Yuliya the biological mother! Needless to say, there was shock and confusion all around.

Police eventually tracked down Irina’s biological parents across town. Turns out  that Irina and another baby girl called Anya were born on the same day 12 years ago. Hospital workers accidentally gave the babies the wrong name tags, which means each one went home with wrong set of parents – a truth that has only come to light now.

Now the families are suing their local maternity ward for the mix-up. They’re demanding 5m roubles (around $158,000) in damages, according to BBC News. (It’s too late to press criminal charges because too much time has passed since the girls were passed off to the wrong parents.)

I can’t even imagine the psychological damage these families must be suffering right now! Not surprisingly, the girls want to remain with the parents they know – the ones who have raised them. “Neither child wants to leave their home. Irina keeps saying to me: ‘Mum, please don’t give me away!’ I comfort her by saying: ‘I would never do anything against your wishes. Nothing has changed. I’m still your mother,'” explains Yuliya.

Yuliya also says that Anya, her biological daughter, is blond and looks just like her and her ex-husband. “As soon as I saw her, it was like looking at a copy of me as a child,” she says. “In the two months since, we haven’t met very often. We live at different ends of town… When we have met up, she’s called me ‘Mum’ a few times. But I think it’s only because she think I’d like to hear that. Really, I’m a stranger to her.”

(Photo: iStockphoto)