The first time a parent holds their baby is a moment that forever bonds parent and child. But what if you have a nagging feeling that this infant in your arms may not be yours? Would you trust your intuition? Richard Cushworth and his wife Mercy Casanellas dealt with this exact situation, and trusting their intuition made all the difference.
A case of mistaken identity
Recently, the couple traveled to El Salvador to give birth to their baby boy. But what should have been a happy occasion instead left the family full of uncertainty. For three months, the couple raised the baby as their own despite being suspicious that it wasn’t their child (see picture, above left). They eventually decided to trust their intuition and take a DNA test to find out if this was, in fact, a case of mistaken identity. As it turns out, they were right-the hospital in El Salvador had given the couple the wrong baby. And they were not the only family that had their baby swapped; in fact there were at least five other documented cases where a similar situation had taken place. Eventually, the switched babies were reunited with their families, but nevertheless the couple decided to take legal action against the hospital, citing that this is an injustice and no family should have to go through it.
DNA testing: the truth behind the myths
At this point, you might be wondering why the couple waited three months to come forward if they had the feeling from the start that it wasn’t their child. Maybe they were deterred from conducting a DNA test to find out the baby’s identity, believing that it’s too expensive or invasive.
DNA testing has come a long way over the last few years, and most people would be surprised to know that not only is it affordable, but it’s also easy to do (IDENTIGENE kits are available at local retailers such as CVS, Rite-Aid and Wal-mart, and online at Walgreens.com). Although trusting their intuition is what led the couple to actually question the identity of their child, taking a DNA test provided the concrete evidence they needed to proceed with getting their own biological child back.
Is it ours? Let’s talk about it
Another reason the couple could have waited to bring up their doubts is simply because they had no idea how to communicate their suspicions to one another-this isn’t exactly a light topic for pillow talk. As uncomfortable as this kind of conversation can be, it’s still important to have open communication. Can you imagine if this couple had never openly talked to each other about their doubts? They could have gone on raising the wrong baby for years, if not a lifetime, without ever openly questioning if the hospital had swapped their child. This would undoubtedly put a strain on the family and could cause the child to have doubts of their own when they’re older.
When the couple was given back their biological child, they were ecstatic-and who wouldn’t be? But, they also felt heartbroken to give back the baby they had come to know and love as their own. Parents don’t have to be biologically connected to their baby to feel a strong parental bond, and it’s hard to imagine walking away from this situation without feeling a sense of loss.
What would you do?
Although most of us are fortunate enough not to have been in this situation, if you find yourself in doubt about your newborn child, trust your intuition and back it up with a DNA test. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still be a part of the child’s life, but it will give you peace of mind. So the only question that remains is: What would you have done if you had been in Richard Cushworth’s and Mercy Casanella’s’ situation?
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