World

Court: Babies Swapped At Birth Won't Be Returned To Biological Parents

| by Nik Bonopartis
A baby in a maternity ward. A baby in a maternity ward.

After a divorcing couple's DNA test revealed neither mom nor dad was related to their child, the horrified parents discovered they'd taken the wrong child home from the hospital four years earlier -- and their child had been sent home with another couple.

A South African court ruled on Nov. 16 that both children should remain with the families who raised them, and won't be returned to their biological parents, the Daily Mail reports.

Both children -- a boy and a girl -- were born on the same day at Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg, near Johannesburg, in 2010, and their identities were mixed up by staff in the maternity ward. It's not clear how the parents did not realize the babies they took home were of the opposite sex, but neither couple realized the mistake until 2014, when one of the couples split.

After the divorce, the ex-husband challenged a child-support ruling, saying he suspected the child wasn't his -- and he was right. But both mom and dad were shocked when they learned neither of them was related to the child they'd been raising for four years. That's when the mistake was discovered, and the Pretoria High Court called for experts from the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Child Law to assist in the case, according to Reuters.

Initially one mother wanted her biological child returned, but after the case went to court she changed her mind. Since the mix-up, the mothers have met, and have been attending joint counseling sessions, The Guardian reported. Both mothers have also met their biological children, said Henk Strydom, an attorney for one of the mothers. Neither woman's name has been publicly released, per a court order keeping a lid on identifying details in the case.

"She said there are resemblances to herself," Strydom told The Guardian in 2014. "She conveyed to me that it was traumatic. You can see it's not easy for her. She has to care for a child that is not hers on her own while her child is with someone else."

"Nobody is fighting [the decision]," Skelton told the Daily Mail. "Three of the parents totally agree with the decision. One father is uncertain but he said through his lawyers that he would abide by the decision of the court."

"Now it is as if they are the children of the parents with which they are living," she added.

The court has reportedly not released details about how the hospital staff misidentified the children.

Sources: The Daily Mail, Reuters via The Telegraph, The Guardian / Photo source: Flickr