Wednesday 1 March 2017

Babies swapped at birth won't be returned to biological parents, court rules

South African children accidentally swapped on the day they were born in 2010 will stay with the families who raised them and not be returned to their biological parents, a Pretoria high court has ruled.

The two children, a boy and a girl who are now aged five, were born on the same day in a Johannesburg hospital but ended up being taken home and raised by the wrong parents after nurses mixed up their identities.

The precise circumstances of the mix-up have not been made public but the families were unaware of the mistake until one of the mothers underwent tests when her ex-husband refused to pay child support, saying he was not the father.

One of the women initially wanted to get her biological daughter back but has since accepted the opinion of court-appointed experts, who said the children should stay with the parents who raised them.

The Pretoria court ruled on Monday that the children will now be considered to have been adopted by the parents who brought them up, said Anne Skelton, director at the University of Pretoria's Centre for Child Law, the court's advisers.

"Now it is as if they are the children of the parents with which they are living," Skelton told Reuters on Tuesday.

"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 case has drawn comparison to the biblical story of King Solomon who ruled in a dispute between two women claiming to be the mother of a child.

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