Babies Switched at Birth: Stories of Altered Destiny

Plush baby toys.

When babies are accidentally switched at birth it may sound like the plot of a movie or TV show, but here are some real life stories of such people and their altered destinies. (Image: Olindana via Dreamstime)

An altered destiny caused by being accidentally switched at birth with another baby is a common plot used in movies or TV dramas. But it also happens in real life, indirectly causing a lot of heartache. Some people lose the opportunity to know their biological parents, some should have been born into a wealthy family, but instead, lead a poor life, and still others have their families broken apart as a result.

Altered destiny: One mistake changes the fate of two men

Two couples in Japan gave birth to baby boys many years ago. However, due to hospital negligence, both families ended up with the wrong child. Both families happened to be very different. The baby that should have gone to the affluent family ended up leading a poor life, while the child that should have been poor ended up rich, just like a movie plot. According to media reports, a hospital worker who was bathing the infants returned them to the wrong mothers, letting a poor family take home the eldest son of a rich family.

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When the boy was two years old, the father of the poor family died, and the family had to live on government assistance. The mother of the family had to take care of him along with three other brothers, and the family was crammed into an apartment. Due to financial difficulties, he had to work part-time as a driver for a transportation company. He never married and helped his mother take care of his three unrelated brothers, one of whom was a stroke victim.

In contrast, the baby boy with whom he was switched lived a more affluent life. He had his own private teacher, received higher education, started his own real estate company, and had three other brothers who all worked for large companies.

In contrast, due to the altered destiny, the baby boy with whom he was switched lived a more affluent life.
In contrast, due to the altered destiny, the baby boy with whom he was switched lived a more affluent life. (Image: Shannon Fagan via Dreamstime)

The three younger brothers of the wealthy family noticed that their older “brother” didn’t look much like them, so they requested DNA testing and accidentally discovered that their older brother really wasn’t related to them! After several twists and turns, they were able to find their real brother by searching through the hospital records.

After learning the truth, the man, who grew up in poverty, was extremely shocked. “I feel … regret and also anger,” he told reporters at a press conference. “I want them to turn back the clock.”

After this decades-long mistake was uncovered, the man and his three biological brothers sued the hospital and ended up with a 38 million yen (nearly US$371,000) settlement. After winning the case, the man said: “I heard that I was being sought after because of a mix-up. When I heard that, my initial feeling was: ‘Is such a thing possible?’ I didn’t think it was possible that a hospital could make such a mistake.”

It is a strange story of fate, being born into a wealthy family but growing up in poverty until reaching the age of sixty, discovering his true family, but being too late to meet his biological parents who had already died.

A displaced life, a miserable family

This story is about two girls. One had a happy family and got a good education, while the other was raised by a poor rural family, with her adoptive father imprisoned for murder and her adoptive mother drinking all day, leaving her poor, sick, and begging for a living.

According to the Daily Mail, Zoya Tuganova, a 69-year-old mother, gave birth to a baby girl named Luciya 30 years ago in a Russian maternity ward. Because of the hospital’s negligence, another baby girl, Katya, was brought to her.

Zoya questioned the hospital staff at once since the child did not seem to be her own. However, the Soviet doctors refused to believe such a mistake could have been made. When she started screaming and swearing, telling them she had the wrong baby, the doctors threatened her with a psychiatric analysis, saying she was mentally ill if she persisted in thinking that her daughter had been taken by mistake. In the end, Zoya had to take Katya home instead.

Newborn baby girl in the hospital.
Zoya questioned the hospital staff at once since the child did not seem to be her own. (Image: Patryk Kosmider via Dreamstime)

When Luciya was taken away by a poor rural family, her adoptive father saw her blonde hair and blue eyes. He thought she was not his own daughter and decided she was born of his wife’s infidelity. After years of beating and bad-mouthing his wife, he was imprisoned for killing the man he thought had been her lover. This took place when Luciya was 5 years old.

Soon after her father was imprisoned, her mother also passed away. This left Luciya to grow up in an orphanage and she did not receive an education.

Katya, on the other hand, was much more fortunate. Although she was born in poor health, she received excellent care thanks to her family, and after graduating from college, she joined the public sector in management.

Zoya said she considers both Luciya and Katya to be her daughters and that they are her heart and soul. She still remembers the name of the Soviet doctor who would not listen to her and has filed a lawsuit to seek justice for herself and her daughters.

Hospital negligence: Wrong child leads to couple’s divorce

Recently, there was also an incident of a family being given the wrong child to take home in mainland China. According to the mainland’s Legal Task Force, Ms. Zhang gave birth to Wang Ye (a pseudonym) by cesarean section at the Shanghai First Maternal and Child Health Hospital on Feb. 27, 1989.

However, she and her husband often heard various people gossiping that her husband could not be the boy’s father. After all, he was a handsome boy and did not look anything like the two of them. Husband Wang, therefore, suspected his wife of cheating on him. Ms. Zhang was also under great pressure for this reason, and the couple decided to divorce in 2004, when Wang Ye was 15 years old.

In 2011, Wang Ye’s father dragged the mother and son to do a paternity test because he just couldn’t let the matter drop. He never guessed that the results would show Wang Ye was related to neither he nor his former wife. Ms. Zhang took out a photo of her son at the hospital when he was born and found that her son’s mouth and nose at birth were indeed a little different, and she remembered that when the hospital staff brought him to her, Wang Ye was not wearing a bracelet on his arm to identify him. Faced with such a result, she was deeply shocked.

DNA test tube and cotton swab.
The results of the paternity test showed that Wang Ye was not related to either of his parents. (Image: Henrik Dolle via Dreamstime)

Both Wang Ye and his mother speculated that he might have been held in the wrong place at the hospital at birth. Ms. Zhang repeatedly approached the Shanghai First Maternal and Child Health Hospital for an explanation, but was turned away by the medical staff on the grounds that “the information from that year could no longer be found.” Finally, she entrusted her lawyer to take the hospital to court.

Then on July 29, Shanghai First Maternal and Child Health Hospital officially released a statement through its official microblog, saying that the hospital had set up a special working group and would do its best to assist the court in its investigation. The hospital also said that because the incident occurred 28 years ago, it would add difficulty to the investigation. But the hospital said if the findings showed that they were guilty of negligence, they would bear the corresponding responsibility according to the law.

Ms. Zhang hopes to express her two demands to the hospital through her lawyer: First, to ask the hospital to assist Ms. Zhang in finding her biological son and to assist Mr. Wang in finding his biological parents; second, to ask the hospital for compensation for various losses of about 1.3 million RMB (about US$200,000) from the past 28 years.

Ms. Zhang also said that if she finds her biological son, she hopes that the two families can live in harmony. Wang Ye also expressed his hope for a perfect ending, where he could have one more pair of parents and his adoptive parents could have one more son.

Translated by Eva

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