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Baby Switched at Birth in El Salvador Finally Allowed to Return to U.S. 1 Year Later

The Short of It

After a year-long battle to bring home their son who was switched at birth in El Salvador, a Texas family is back in the United States.

The Lowdown

Rich Cushworth and Mercedes "Mercy" Casanalles were greeted with cheers and applause as they exited the baggage claim area at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport with their son Moses in their arms. This celebration was a long time in the making, after Casanalles, who is from El Salvador, went home one year ago to gave birth there—and was subsequently given the wrong baby.

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Casanalles and Cushworth were married in the U.S. after meeting at a missionary school, but Casanalles was on a temporary visa, so she had to go back home while her husband stayed in the U.S. After she gave birth in El Salvador, she was given the wrong baby.

"When I got him, I said, 'This is not my baby,'" the mom told local news station WFAA. Certain her baby, whom she'd named Jacob, was not the one she'd given birth to, Casanalles had his DNA tested this past September. The results confirmed her suspicions. " I fell on the floor," she says.

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Unthinkably, the new parents had just one hour to say goodbye to the son they'd raised as their own until that point. The couple was able to find their biological son, Moses, but their heartbreaking saga didn't end there. The Cushworths would engage in an almost year-long battle with the government in El Salvador for a birth certificate or passport that would allow him to travel to the United States. Finally, the child was given travel clearance and is back in Dallas where the family lives.

The Upshot

Cushworth says they're "very thankful, very happy," about the outcome of their anguished journey. But Moses is only allowed to stay in this country for three weeks as it stands now. His parents are hopeful he will be given permanent clearance to stay in Dallas.

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It's hard to even contemplate what this family has been through. I'm sure on many levels they loved Jacob and also feel very robbed of having missed out on parts of Moses' infancy. The entire situation is just awful, but here's hoping this homecoming is the happy ending they have been waiting for.

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