In a Siberian town, a Christian baby and a Muslim baby were swapped at birth. Twelve years later, the families discovered the truth.
Both mothers saw the babies, and should have remembered them.
All Yulia Beliayeva remembers of the night she gave birth, Dec. 17, 1998, was the cursing of the doctors. “The doctors and nurses scolded us for our cries; they gave us humiliating names,” she says.
Who was to blame for the dramatic mix-up that took place at the Kopeisk birth clinic that night, troubling even by the standards of Russian medicine? Ira was born at 2:20 a.m., 15 minutes before Anya. Their mothers were still teenagers; Beliayeva was 18 at the time she gave birth to Anya, and Ira’s biological mother was 16 years old. “I am not excluding the possibility that they swapped our babies on purpose,” Beliayeva says, out of irritation with their cries. Today, the heartbroken parents say they would like the doctors to take full responsibility and go to jail.
But their story of swapped babies in Siberia was discovered two years too late for the criminal law to take force. Both mothers want to keep the child they raised, as one family is Muslim, the other Christian. So all the parents count on now is a possible damage award of $330,000. The court hearing is expected next week.
For 12 years, Beliayeva did not have a shadow of a doubt that her eldest, deeply beloved daughter, Ira, was her real child. The blonde, blue-eyed mother thought that her dark-eyed girl with coal-black hair inherited those features from her grandmother. Ira had her mother’s powerful voice and outgoing character. Ira yelled commands at the boys in the courtyard. This made the young mother feel proud: “She has my leader’s spirit,” Beliayeva says
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