Mother gets wrong baby from hospital, refuses to give it back

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by April Taylor

In a shocking and devastating mixup, two mothers who gave birth at Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg, South Africa have discovered that the daughters they have been raising for four years are not biologically theirs.    The two mothers delivered their children just east of Johannesburg on the same day in 2010.  When they were discharged from the hospital, the mothers were accidentally given each others baby.

The mixup was discovered when one of the mothers sued her ex=partner for child support.  The man denied paternity, so a DNA test was done.  When the test proved that the little girl did not biologically belong to him, the devastated mother sought answers.

The woman eventually uncovered the hospital’s mistake and is now seeking to have her biological child returned to her.  However, the other mother is refusing to comply with correcting the hospital’s mistake.

Henk Strydom, the attorney for the mother who is requesting her child be returned, stated to Mail & Guardian that his client is not satisfied with how her attempts to regain custody of her biological child have unfolded.  The Univeristy of Pretoria’s Centre for Child Law has been appointed to investigate the case and make a recommendation about what is in the best interests of the children, so the high court can make a decision about where the girls should be placed.

Strydom also reported that his client is not interested in suing the hospital involved or the government health department.  This is apparently not the first time a child-swap case has occurred in South Africa.  There was a case involving the birth of two boys in 1989 where two boys were switched at birth.  The mothers in that case were awarded damages.

Clinical psychologist Bruce Laing reported that cases such as this can cause long term and significant trauma for all involved.  In a statement to the Times of South Africa, he stated: “An increasingly complicated situation is that some resentment towards a child that is not yours might occur.  The parents might always be thinking ‘What if?'”