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Babies Switched at Birth Will Not Be Returned to Biological Parents

Getty Images/Ben Edwards

The Short of It

A court has ruled that two 5-year-olds who were accidentally switched at birth will not be returning to their biological parents.

The Lowdown

The 5-year-olds—a boy and girl from South Africa who were born on the same day in 2010—were taken home and raised by the wrong parents after nurses reportedly mixed up the babies' name tags at the hospital. The mistake was realized 18 months ago, when one of the mothers sued her boyfriend, who was denying paternity. DNA tests showed neither were the child's biological parents.

Now Pretoria High Court has decided the children must stay with the families who raised them, and the caregivers who brought them up will be considered their adopted parents.

"Now it is as if they are the children of the parents with which they are living," said Anne Skelton, a director at the University of Pretoria's Centre for Child Law, who was appointed by the court to investigate what would be in the children's best interest. "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."

The Upshot

Finding out your babies have been switched at birth is every parent's nightmare. To that end, Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwada promised the doors of the court will remain open, should any issues arise down the road. He added that there is no winner in this case: "It is not a matter where anyone can say they've won. It is a matter which must, at the end of the day, benefit the children."

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