Children swapped at birth: should they be swapped back 4 years on?

South African court is making the impossible decision over whether to return children mistakenly swapped at birth to their biological parents


It’s the stuff of nightmares. A boy and girl were born in a Johannesburg hospital on the same day, and somehow their identities were mixed up and they were taken home by each other’s parents.


Now, 4 years later, the case has come to court, and legal experts are deciding on the children’s fates.

The families weren’t aware that a mistake had been made until one of the mums underwent tests to prove the paternity of her child after her ex-husband refused to pay child maintenance.

When the mistake was revealed (you can only imagine that awful moment), one of the mums initially wanted her biological child back, while the other wanted to keep the child she had raised. Because they couldn’t reach an agreement, the North Gauteng high court has been left to decide.

The court asked an expert on child law to investigate what would be in the children’s best interests, according to the Guardian. The expert has now concluded that the children should not be returned to their biological parents.

“The recommendation is that the children should stay with the parents who have raised them and should also be permitted to have contact with their biological parents,” said Ann Skelton, the director of the University of Pretoria’s centre for child law.

The court hasn’t set a date to make a decision – but Skelton hopes her recommendation will be followed as it’s now what the parents want. “There was one mum who originally wanted to get her biological child back but she has softened her position and she accepts now that it’s not really possible,” Skelton said.

What do you think? Would you want to keep the child you raised or the child who’s biologically yours? Tell us below…

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