Two girls born on the same day in the same Italian hospital more than two decades ago, recently received news they had spent the majority of their lives being raised by the wrong parents. Now, the families are seeking damages from the hospital for the mistake.
In 1989, Lorena and Antonella were born in Puglia, Italy, just 11 minutes apart, Daily Mail reported. Shortly after being delivered, the baby girls were given to the women believed to be their correct mothers. Two years ago, however, when the girls were 24, they learned of the accidental switch.
“I felt physically sick,” Lorena told Daily Mail, remembering the moment she was told the truth by Caterina and Michele Cobuzzi – the people she spent her life believing to be her parents.
The Cobuzzis told Lorena they discovered she was not their biological daughter when they saw a photo of a girl who looked just like Caterina, Daily Mail reported. After establishing that Lorena and the girl in the photograph were both born on the same day in Canosa hospital, the Cobuzzis ordered a DNA test.
The results revealed that the girl in the picture, Antonella, was in fact the Cobuzzi couple's biological daughter.
“The feeling was terrible – I didn’t know who I was anymore,” Lorena recalled. “I didn’t know who to call mum and dad.”
Although the girls were raised only a few miles apart in the same small town, they lived drastically different lives.
While Lorena had a positive and pleasant upbringing, Antonella experienced a different childhood. She was originally raised by Lorena’s biological parents, Luigi and Loreta Mazzone with her brother Fidele and her sister Elisa. The family grew up in destitution and Antonella reportedly suffered abuse.
Eventually, The Mazzone couple split up and Luigi reportedly left to live with his girlfriend; Loreta then abandoned the kids. Antonella and her siblings lived with her grandparents after that, until she was put up for adoption. She now sees the couple who adopted her as her parents, according to court documents.
“I feel lucky in a sense to have been swapped and grown up in a normal loving family,” Lorena told Daily Mail.
“I feel fortunate that I didn’t have to go through all that," she added.
Lorena has now met her biological mother and father and has developed a bond with her sister, Elisa, Daily Mail reported. She refers to both her biological parents and the Cobuzzis as “mum” and “dad,” according to Daily Mail.
Since discovering the truth about the switch, the Cobuzzis have tried to develop a relationship with Antonella, La Gazzetta Del Mezzogiorno reported. However, the family’s lawyer says it has been a struggle and Antonella is having a hard time seeing the couple as her real parents.
The families are now suing the Italian health authorities for a combined total of about $24 million.
Photo credit: Daily Mail, David Herholz/Flickr