Imagine the bond a mother and father must have with their newborn child. If you're a parent, you already know how it feels. Many say that bringing their child home for the first time after they're born is the most wonderful feeling on earth. But what happens when that feeling is torn away from you? What happens when that little bundle of joy that gave your life meaning is taken away from you? That moment that made your life a dream quickly spirals into a complete nightmare. There are many instances in which a parent can lose their child. Some die in childbirth. Others are just too weak to survive the first months or weeks. Others are kidnapped. And the last example is probably the most disturbing.
This is much more common than you might think. Having your child literally stolen from you is one of the most traumatic things imaginable. Any sane parent would do everything in their power to get their child back. And when the authorities manage to track your child down, it can feel like the biggest miracle ever. But what happens when the child who is "returned" isn't the right child at all? It's a simple but devastating mistake. As babies, many children look very similar. There's also the fact that parents barely get to look at their children before they are whisked away by hospital staff. And it's in hospitals where these mix ups are most frequent. Parents take their babies home, take care of them for weeks, months, even years before they find out they've been raising someone else's kid. Can you imagine how that would feel?
15 Bobby Dunbar - Parents Forcibly Took Back The Wrong Child
Back in 1913, a missing 4-year-old boy by the name of Bobby Dunbar was a major news story in papers across America. There was a huge effort to get this boy back, and eventually the authorities had seemingly tracked him down. There was just one problem: he was in the custody of another couple, Mr. William Cantell Walters and his partner Julia Anderson, who were living in North Carolina. They insisted the child was theirs, but could not afford a lawyer to prove it in a court of law. So what ended up happening was the authorities sided with the Dunbars and gave the boy to them.
In 2004, DNA tests proved that this boy was not even related to the Dunbars. His name was not even "Bobby Dunbar," it was Bruce, and he was taken from his family in a stunning crime. What makes this even more stunning is the fact that it was the authorities who seemed to encourage it. What's even more stunning is that Bruce's father, Mr. Walters, went to prison for two years for kidnapping charges.
14 The Cushworth Family - Texas Woman Gave Birth In El Salvador, Leaves With Wrong Baby
Another stunning story of parents being given the wrong baby happened in El Salvador. Richard and Mercy Cushworth were traveling in El Salvador, Mercy's native country, when Mercy gave birth. She kissed the baby and gave him a kiss before the baby was taken to the hospital nursery. Unbeknownst to her, the baby that she was given when she left the hospital was not hers. They began to have doubts after they got back to Texas, and a DNA test determined that it was not their child. Immediately the correct child was returned to them.
Mercy reveals how shocking this turn of events was for her, saying "The thought that the baby I had been nursing, taken care of, loving him, bathing him - that he was not mine. And then I had another thought which came with it - where's my baby? So I had two thoughts - what's going to happen with this baby, and where's my baby."
She also expresses surprise that she didn't notice the difference in the bay's much darker skin: "I just accepted it as my child. Now I look back at the pictures around the time we came to Dallas when he was three months old and I'm shocked that I never suspected, because you can see that it's just obviously not my child if you look at some of the pictures."
13 Paul Fronczak - Still Searching For Real Family
One of the most stunning cases of kidnapped babies being returned to the wrong parents involved a boy named Paul Fronczak. He was kidnapped from his mother's arms in a Chicago hospital back in 1964. A nationwide hunt was on to track down this baby was undertaken, and finally they found the missing child - or so it seemed. The baby was found abandoned and the FBI thought there was a strong possibility that it was Paul. So the child was brought to the parents, Dora and Chester, who raised him as their own. Years later, Paul took a DNA test and found out he wasn't even related to his parents. The real Paul Fronczak could be alive out there somewhere, dead, or even worse.
Paul wrote an email confessing to his parents, now in their 80s, that he wasn't really their son: "The DNA test results came back and it turns out that I am not your biological son; I am not the kidnapped baby that you had stolen from your arms on April 27th, 1964. This means that the real Paul Joseph Fronczak may still be out there, alive, not knowing who he is. This also means that I do not really know who I am, how old I am, and my genetic background or heritage."
12 Holly Smith's Daughter - Daycare Error
Imagine the shock Holly Smith must have felt when she went to pick up her child from daycare, only to be told that someone else had been given her 4-year-old daughter and had left the premises with her. That's what this mom was going through one day, and she briefly thought that her daughter was kidnapped. Technically, she was. But it was later determined to be a huge misunderstanding. A woman simply picked up the wrong child, and later returned with the girl and picked up the correct one instead. She was given permission to pick up a co-worker's daughter, but she picked the wrong one.
But Holly Smith had no idea that this was the case in the spur of the moment, and immediately got on the phone and called 9-1-1. Her voice was dripping with emotion and dread when she told dispatch "Somebody has taken my daughter. They said somebody gave them an ID and said that I approved to pick her up and I didn’t."
Holly Smith is still understandably furious with the daycare, and said "They have all these security measures, and it was still allowed for my child to go home with the wrong person." You have to admit, this is a pretty major screw up.
11 Anyeli Rodriguez - Adopted By American Couple After Kidnapping
This story is perhaps the most disturbing, because the mother has located her missing child, and still can't get her back. Loyda Rodriguez watched helplessly as her child was taken from her and rushed into a taxi in Guatemala. This was back in 2006, and the child was 2-years old. The mother searched for the child but was unsuccessful. Years later, she discovered that her child was alive and well, and had been adopted by an American couple.
This is where it gets crazy. Even though DNA tests concluded that Loyda is Anyeli's mother, the American government refuses to give the child back to her rightful mother. The adoptive parents, who are now calling the girl "Karen," refuse to comply and are fighting the case with their lawyers. And they've won. The Guatemalan government has given up on the case, and has declared the adoption totally legal. You have to feel for Loyda, who once went through a hunger strike to get attention for her case. "Karen" is now 13 years old, and one day she will find out about this. Her case is why America no longer adopts children from Guatemala. The case is also suspected of involving some elements of human trafficking.
10 Baby Mix-Up In South African Hospital - Raised The Mistaken Babies As Their Own
Another stunning case of children who will not be returned to their biological mothers comes from South Africa. The children are now 5 years old, and were born on the same day in Praetoria. One is a girl and one is a boy, which makes it even more strange how the hospital staff managed to get the two children confused. The whole situation was brought to light when one of the mothers sued her boyfriend who was denying that the baby was his. But DNA testing proved that both parents were completely unrelated to their child.
Despite the fact that they have been raising children that are not theirs, both mothers are happy to raise the children they were given when they left hospital. One of the lawyers on the case revealed: "Now it is as if they are the children of the parents with which they are living. Nobody is fighting it. 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."
9 Jaroslava Trojanova & Jaroslava Cermakova - Families Bonded Together To Raise Children
Two women were given the wrong babies after they had delivered their children at a Czech hospital. Their names are Jaroslava Trojanova and Jaroslava Cermakova, and they don't actually want to give their children back to each other. Again, it was because of one of the father's suspicions that a DNA test was conducted and it was proven that neither mother was related their children. Both women are again perfectly content to raise the children they have been mistakenly given.
One of the mothers revealed: "We are completely clueless as how to go about this, it is such a horrible situation. But we agree on one thing: our daughters will have four parents. We will raise them together as one big family. We are bonded together forever by this terrible fate of ours. My wife and I, we say that we will have two daughters from now on. It would be impossible to simply give up on our baby, even if we are not the biological parents."
8 Stefanie Phillips - One Of 7 Mothers Given Wrong Baby
Stefanie Phillips was just one out of 7 mothers who were given the wrong child to take home at New South Wales hospitals in Australia during the past 4 years. This is leading to a public outcry, led by people like Stefanie Phillips, who say that hospitals who consistently make these mistakes should be publicized so that mothers know to stay away from them.
Stefanie revealed how it made her feel when it was revealed that she had been given the wrong child: "I was very overwhelmed, I'd just become a new mum. I didn't know what to say." She also revealed that she had breastfed a child that wasn't hers. That opens up the doors to all kinds of concerns about the transfer of diseases. There is also the psychological damage that can be done to mothers who have bonded with children for hours only to find out that the child is not actually theirs.
7 Manon Serrano - Got Bullied For Not Looking Like Parents
Two mothers in France gave birth to babies in 1994. Because both babies were born with jaundice, they were placed in an incubator. For some reason, the hospital staff mixed up the babies, and gave the wrong one to Sophie Serrano. Sophie's real baby was given to an unnamed mother. The child she was given, who she called Manon, had much darker skin than the baby she first held. She raised doubts about this, but was assured that the baby was hers. Years later, DNA testing confirmed that the baby was not hers.
The mother took the hospital to court and won millions of dollars in damages. The siblings of the children who were returned to the wrong mother were also awarded money, as were three of the parents involved. Maron said that she suffered endless bullying at school because of her dark skin in relation to her family, and there were endless rumors that she was an illegitimate child, the product of an affair.
6 Doris Grunwald - Found Out When She Was 20 Years Old
Doris Grunwald was just an average woman in her 20s. Then she found out through a DNA test that she wasn't actually related to her mother or any of her family members. The Austrian woman then found out that she had been given to the wrong mother at birth. Now she's been awarded thousands of dollars in damages.
Speaking about the experience, Doris' mother revealed: “Of course it was a huge shock for me and my daughter. But we knew from the start that nothing could separate us, that we would stay mother and daughter. This child is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Doris was equally shocked at the revelation: “My whole body started shaking, it was like the ground under my feet disappeared. Whenever I see someone I look like more than my parents, I wonder if they are [my parents], it is always present. But they (Evelin and Josef) are my parents and will always be my parents.”
5 Carlie And Rebecca - Thankful For Their New Families
In 1995, Paula Johnson and Whitney Rogers took home perfectly healthy babies. All was well. But much later, a stunning revelation was discovered. The babies had been given to the wrong parents. Again the situation came to light after one of the father's tried to get out of paying more child support by getting a DNA test to prove the child was not his. To everyone's surprise, it was neither his or the mothers. Although they tracked down where their biological child went, both mothers decided not to disturb the family ties that had already been formed.
Carlie, one of the girls, revealed: "The big question everyone always asks me is 'Would you prefer your parents still be alive or passed?'. I don’t know what I’m missing so in a sense, I do feel more sorry for Rebecca, because she doesn’t know her biological mom. "
Rebecca, the other child confessed: "I am very thankful for the life I have. I would not go back and change a single second of it. ... I love the family I am with and if that didn’t happen then I wouldn’t know them."
4 Nicholas Brian Kirks - Family Worried The Baby Had AIDS
One of the most disturbing stories about children being given to the wrong parents was the case of Nicholas Brian Kirks. This boy was only 5-weeks old when he was finally returned to his rightful parents. Before that, he was being raised by the wrong people. But those people were raising a baby that was not theirs as well. This was all down to a major mistake at a hospital nursery. Once again, the babies were switched accidentally at birth. This led to some major problems, as Nicholas Brian Kirks had a cold when he was returned to his parents. The parents know nothing about how he got the cold or what his initial symptoms were. The other parents are suffering too. The baby gets confused, and obviously misses his "fake" parents.
“When somebody at the hospital says, ‘Here is your baby,’ you have no reason to suspect anything," said one of the parents. “You take it for granted that this is your baby." When Nicholas' parents first saw him, they were shocked, and they revealed: “I thought she had AIDS,” Nicolas recalls, “and I was crying and yelling at her: ‘What’s wrong? Do you have AIDS? Do you have anything?’"
3 Anya Belyaeva - Children Begged Not To Be Returned
Another crazy example of babies being swapped at birth in a hospital comes from Russia. In 1999, two mothers gave birth just 15 minutes apart. In another huge mistake by the hospital, the babies were given to the wrong mothers. Once again, one of the fathers wanted a DNA test to get out of paying child support. The DNA test revealed that the child was related to neither parent. Eventually, the mother's search brought her to her real daughter, who was living with other parents. Neither child wants to leave the family they grew up with, and the parents respecting their decision.
One mother revealed: "It was true. Their daughter, Anya, was blond and looked just like me and my ex-husband. And our daughter was dark-skinned and had dark hair and looked like the other father. He's a Tajik, and she looked just like him. It's terrible for both of them. They've grown up with one set of parents, now they've found out they have a different mother and father. 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.'''
2 Wang-Ye - Father Thought His Son Was "Too Good-Looking"
Another interesting story comes from China, where a young baby boy was given to the wrong parents in yet another hospital mix up. His name is Wang-Ye, and in a bizarre turn of events, his father actually demanded a DNA test because his supposed son was "too good-looking." Obviously he was suspicious of a supposed infidelity, but the truth was much more disturbing. Their son had been given to the wrong parent in 1989, and they took home a son that belonged to someone else entirely.
Speaking about the experience, Wang-Ye, who is now 28 said: "I still cannot believe it. After all, we have lived together for such a long time. I cannot accept the fact." The family wants to sue the hospital that is responsible. The hospital is looking into the incident, but cannot find the records from that time. This means that their real son is probably somewhere out there, living a completely different life, and they have no way to actually reach or contact him.
1 Melissa Richman's Daughter - Breastfed The Wrong Baby, Then Couldn't Feed Her Own
The next story illustrates how important it is for women to be given their biological children to breastfeed immediately after giving birth. For Melissa Richman, it's something that really angered her. She was given a child to breastfeed hours after giving birth. When she had been breastfeeding for many minutes, a nurse came into the room and told her that was not her baby. As Melissa recalls, "She actually said there was a terrible mistake. This was not your baby."
She was then given her real baby to breastfeed, but at that point, she had exhausted her supply and could give nothing more to her actual child. This is a bigger problem than you might think. A mother's breast milk that she feeds her child with for the very first time is full of nutrients and antibodies essential to a child's early health. It is unique in that it never reaches the same level of nutritional value with later breastfeeding attempts. So basically, Melissa just wasted her best milk on a baby that wasn't even hers.